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In fact, the earliest surviving texts that can definitely be called Italian (or more accurately, vernacular, as distinct from its predecessor Vulgar Latin) are legal formulae known as the Placiti Cassinesi from the Province of Benevento that date from 960–963, although the Veronese Riddle, probably from the 8th or early 9th century, contains a late form of Vulgar Latin that can be seen as a very early Italian dialect.

va bene "all right": is pronounced for Milanese and generally northern.

In contrast to the Gallo-Italic languages of northern Italy, the Italo-Dalmatian Neapolitan language and its dialects were largely unaffected by the Franco-Occitan influences introduced to Italy mainly by bards from France during the Middle Ages, but after the Norman conquest of southern Italy, Sicily became the first Italian land to adopt Occitan lyric moods (and words) in poetry.

Dante's epic poems, known collectively as the Commedia, to which another Tuscan poet Giovanni Boccaccio later affixed the title Divina, were read throughout Italy and his written dialect became the "canonical standard" that all educated Italians could understand.

Dante is still credited with standardizing the Italian language.

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period, most literate Italian speakers were also literate in Latin; and thus they easily adopted Latin words into their writing—and eventually speech—in Italian.

Its vowels are the second-closest to Latin after Sardinian.It used to have official status in Albania, Malta and Monaco, where it is still widely spoken, as well as in former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa regions where it plays a significant role in various sectors.Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia.Italy has always had a distinctive dialect for each city because the cities, until recently, were thought of as city-states. As Tuscan-derived Italian came to be used throughout Italy, features of local speech were naturally adopted, producing various versions of Regional Italian.The most characteristic differences, for instance, between Roman Italian and Milanese Italian are the gemination of initial consonants and the pronunciation of stressed "e", and of "s" in some cases: e.g.However, it should be noted that these Languages of Italy are not truly "dialects" of Standard Italian, evolving independently (and alongside) of the predecessor of Standard Italian.