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The claim is true if we take "Italian" as meaning modern standard Italian. At the time of Italy's unification, what we know today as "Italian" was more of a literary language than a vernacular one. The 2.5% figure cited is a lower bound figure, but the higher end only goes up to 12% or so. Either way, only a small minority of Italy's inhabitants spoke it. ...


Semaphore’s answer is largely, but not entirely correct. The standard Italian language is based mainly on the written language used by late-mediaeval authors like Dante and Petrarca. They wrote in Florentine as it was then spoken, but modern Florentine has moved on from this. For the example in standard Italian you write “la casa” and pronounce it as it is ...

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