La lingua italiana is the direct evolution of the Latin language and fragments of Latin continue to be found in the modern language. However, it really blossomed from the stem of that sweet Fiorentino used in literature in 1300’s Florence and it is still rooted in the same grammar and lexicon of that time. In the “Divina Commedia” any Italian reader, even though lacking in a knowledge of literature, can embark on reading many verses before he encounters a word that he doesn’t know: the form is exactly like the one in use today and when it is not, the modern equivalent is easy to recreate.
Neverthless, the elements of continuity between Italiano antico and Italiano moderno shouldn’t make us forget the discontinuity, the losses, the changes and the innovations which mark the distance between the Italian we speak today and the one Dante or Petrarca intoned in their verses. Italian therefore, despite its Latinisms and classicisms, is a vibrant and modern language, listed as one of the official languages of the European Union and spoken not only in Switzerland, San Marino, Citta’ del Vaticano, and Principato di Monaco but also in Central and South America.
The Italian Language and Culture Program at Rice CLIC offers a three year academic course of studies. Since the knowledge of a language is not only the study of words and how they work together but also the awareness of the people, ideas and real events, the course will also open a window onto the essence and spirit of Italian life.
Italian is one of the options that fulfills the language requirements for the Linguistics major offered by the Rice Linguistics Department.