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Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references might be off-topic. What good reference works on Italian language are freely available online, and what kinds of questions are they good at answering?

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  • mark the answers "community wiki" so other user can add more resources;
  • for each resource please specify the supported languages (Italian, English) of the content and/or the user interface.

11 Answers 11

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Dictionaries

  • Vocabolario Treccani.it, one of the most celebrated Italian vocabularies (perhaps together with Zanichelli's Zingarelli, which is behind a paywall). Very complete definitions, with examples and etymologies. [Italian only]

  • Grande Dizionario della Lingua Italiana, the most extensive Italian dictionary, the so-called “Battaglia”, from his original editor's name, recently (May 2019) made freely available online in a version with the complete scanned pages (all 21 volumes, plus a supplement), but with limited search features, further hindered by an imperfect OCR-ing of the pages. [Italian only]

  • Sabatini Coletti dictionary [Italian only].

  • De Mauro dictionary [Italian only] (used to have its own page in the then-publisher's site; now hosted by magazine Internazionale); unassuming graphic outlook, very solid reference work; its main features are the marche d'uso (distiguishing very used words, rarer ones, technical ones and so on) and the attention for phrases consisting of more than one word (polirematiche).

  • Wordreference, available for translation pairs Italian-English and English-Italian, as well as for Italian definitions (Devoto-Oli 2012 dictionary). It contains over 50,000 terms and 100,000 translations. In Italian-English, thousands more terms that are not included in the main dictionary can be found in the WordReference Italian-English forum questions and answers. The Collins Italian Dictionary has 182,000 words and phrases with 247,000 translations. “It is a high-quality dictionary from one of the world's most respected publishers”, according to its presentation.

  • Sapere.it, based on a comprehensive Garzanti dictionary, allows searching for the definition of a word, as well as for its synonyms and antonyms [Italian only].

  • Tommaseo Online, web version of Dizionario della lingua italiana di Tommaseo (1879), adapted by the Accademia della Crusca in collaboration with Zanichelli, one of the most comprehensive dictionaries of the 19th century [Italian only].

  • Dictionary of neologisms by Treccani [Italian only]

  • Database of neologisms by the Osservatorio neologico della lingua italiana at CNR [Italian only]

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Grammar

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Pronunciation

  • DOP, Dizionario d’ortografia e di pronunzia della RAI, from the historical dictionary by Migliorini, Tagliavini and Fiorelli;

  • the Dizionario di pronuncia italiana online, edited by linguist Luciano Canepari, which uses IPA and also records pronunciations that are to be avoided or that sound affected;

  • Forvo is a site for hearing pronunciations of words recorded by “ordinary” people. Many words have multiple recordings in different dialects, and each recording has votes on whether others think it is good or correct.

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Google Books NGram Viewer

Google Books NGram Viewer displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books over the selected years.

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Google

Not Google Books, Language Tools, or even word trends. I mean the search engine. If I am curious about a sentence or spelling, I search for it. If the search returns interesting results similar to what I'm writing about, the sentence was good. If it returns badly-spelled pages about unrelated topics, the sentence is no good.

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Writing manuals

  • "How to write clearly" — European Commission booklet [in Italian], including a list of common "false friends" and some writing and editing guidelines
  • Linguaggio amministrativo chiaro e semplice [in Italian only] – Guide to writing clear administrative Italian, prepared by the Department of Linguistics at Padua University
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Grammar

An excellent grammar manual, geared at language learners is

Lepschy, Anna Laura, and Guilio Lepschy. The Italian language today. Routledge, 2013.

It is also available in an Italian edition (I believe the most recent one is from 2019). It is not comprehensive, but it covers a lot of ground and the historical introduction helps contextualizing the language.

Of course, for people interested in an in depth treatment one cannot beat Serianni's classical book:

Serianni, Luca. Grammatica italiana. Torino: Utet, 1991.

This is an attempt to write an Italian equivalent of Grevisse's Bon usage and if it does not quite reach the heights of that French masterpiece it is still a great book and the de facto reference for all grammatical questions by the professionists of the word.

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http://context.reverso.net/translation/italian-english/

You can enter words or phrases here to see them in actual usage in Italian. The pronunciation available and some of the translations are suspect, BUT the sheer volume of material in actual usage is eye-opening, as well as educative.

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Etymology

Etymological Dictionary by Ottorino Pianigiani, first published in 1907 - interesting as a historical find, but obsolete and largely unrealiable.

  • 3
    It may be useful to consult Pianigiani's dictionary, but keep in mind that the etymologies it gives are often outdated with respect to modern research or just plain wrong. – DaG Jan 30 '15 at 9:03
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    @DaG, great that you are mentioning this. Please edit this answer and add some more sources, whenever you have time, OK? – I.M. Jan 30 '15 at 9:49
  • @DaG are there really wrong definitions? Could you give alternative online resources? – LinuxBlanket Jun 28 '18 at 14:12
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    To support my statements about the inadequacy of Pianigiani's etymological dictionary, it has been said to be “composto da un dilettante (e quindi fatto ... a forza d'intuizione)”, i.e., “written by an amateur (and, as such, under the guidance of intuition)” (treccani.it/enciclopedia/linguistica_(Enciclopedia-Italiana)) and “interessante come reperto storico ma superato e quindi inaffidabile in molte sue espressioni”, i.e., “interesting as a historical find, but obsolete and largely unrealiable” (treccani.it/magazine/lingua_italiana/articoli/scritto_e_parlato/…). – DaG Dec 18 '18 at 19:18

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