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The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the
ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studi ...
to write the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
language and its extensions used to write modern languages.


Etymology

The term ''Latin alphabet'' may refer to either the alphabet used to write Latin (as described in this article) or other alphabets based on the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscan civilizat ...

Latin script
, which is the basic set of letters common to the various alphabets descended from the classical Latin alphabet, such as the
English alphabet The modern English alphabet is a consisting of 26 , each having an form. It originated around the 7th century from . Since then, letters have been added or removed to give the current Modern English of 26 letters with no s, , no ...
. These
Latin-script alphabet A Latin-script alphabet (Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet) is an alphabet that uses Letter (alphabet), letters of the Latin script. The 21-letter archaic Latin alphabet and the 23-letter classical Latin alphabet belong to the oldest of this grou ...
s may discard letters, like the
Rotokas alphabetThe modern Rotokas alphabet is a Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic la ...
, or add new letters, like the
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
and
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe *Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway *Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including the t ...
alphabets.
Letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy ...
shapes have evolved over the centuries, including the development in
Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
of
lower-case Letter case is the distinction between the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet), a written element of an alphabet * Letterform, a typographic term for alphabetical letter shapes * Rehea ...
, forms which did not exist in the Classical period alphabet.


Evolution

The Latin alphabet evolved from the visually similar
Etruscan alphabet The Etruscan alphabet was the alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that c ...

Etruscan alphabet
, which evolved from the Cumaean Greek version of the
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels ...

Greek alphabet
, which was itself descended from the
Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet (more specifically, an abjad) known in modern times from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions found across the Mediterranean region. The Phoenician alphabet is also called the Early Linear script (in a ...

Phoenician alphabet
, which in turn derived from
Egyptian hieroglyphics Egyptian hieroglyphs () were the formal writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent ...

Egyptian hieroglyphics
. The
Etruscans The Etruscan civilization () of List of ancient peoples of Italy, ancient Italy covered a territory, at its greatest extent, of roughly what is now Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio, as well as what are now the Po Valley, Emilia-Romagna ...

Etruscans
ruled early Rome; their alphabet evolved in Rome over successive centuries to produce the Latin alphabet. During the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, the Latin alphabet was used (sometimes with modifications) for writing
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
, which are direct descendants of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
, as well as
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
,
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
,
Baltic Baltic may refer to: Geography Northern Europe * Baltic Sea, a sea in Europe * Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea * Baltic states (also Baltics, Baltic nations, Baltic countries or Baltic rep ...

Baltic
and some
Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavs, Slavic peoples or their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic language, Proto- ...

Slavic languages
. With the age of colonialism and Christian evangelism, the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscan civilizat ...

Latin script
spread beyond
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
, coming into use for writing indigenous
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...
,
Australian Australians, colloquially referred to as "Aussies", are the citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines ...
,
Austronesian Austronesian may refer to: *The Austronesian languages *The historical Austronesian peoples who carried Austronesian languages on their migrations {{disambiguation ...
,
Austroasiatic The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and wri ...
and
African languages The languages of Africa are divided into several major Language family, language families: *Niger–Congo languages, Niger–Congo or perhaps Atlantic–Congo languages (includes Bantu languages, Bantu and non-Bantu, and possibly Mande languages ...
. More recently,
linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...

linguists
have also tended to prefer the Latin script or the
International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic transcription, phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script. It was devised by the International Phonetic Association in the late 19th century as a standa ...
(itself largely based on the Latin script) when transcribing or creating written standards for non-European languages, such as the
African reference alphabet An African reference alphabet was first proposed in 1978 by a UNESCO-organized conference held in Niamey, Niger, and the proposed alphabet was revised in 1982. The conference recommended the use of single Letter (alphabet), letters for a sound (th ...
.


Signs and abbreviations

Although Latin did not use diacritical signs, signs of truncation of words, often placed above the truncated word or at the end of it, were very common. Furthermore, abbreviations or smaller overlapping letters were often used. This was due to the fact that if the text was engraved on the stone, the number of letters to be written was reduced, while if it was written on paper or parchment, it saved precious space. This habit continued even in the Middle Ages. Hundreds of symbols and abbreviations exist, varying from century to century.


History


Origins

It is generally believed that the Latin alphabet used by the
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
was derived from the
Old Italic alphabet The Old Italic scripts are a family of similar ancient writing systems used in the Italy, Italian Peninsula between around 700 and 100 BC, for various languages spoken in that time and place. The most notable member is the Etruscan alphabet ...

Old Italic alphabet
used by the
Etruscans The Etruscan civilization () of List of ancient peoples of Italy, ancient Italy covered a territory, at its greatest extent, of roughly what is now Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio, as well as what are now the Po Valley, Emilia-Romagna ...
. That alphabet was derived from the
Euboean alphabet Many local variants of the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in ...
used by the
Cumae Cumae ( grc, Κύμη, (Kumē) or or ; it, Cuma) was the first ancient Greek colony on the mainland of Italy, founded by settlers from Euboea in the 8th century BC and soon becoming one of the strongest colonies. It later became a rich Roma ...

Cumae
, which in turn was derived from the
Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet (more specifically, an abjad) known in modern times from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions found across the Mediterranean region. The Phoenician alphabet is also called the Early Linear script (in a ...

Phoenician alphabet
.


Old Italic alphabet


Archaic Latin alphabet


Old Latin alphabet

Latin included 21 different characters. The letter was the western form of the Greek
gamma Gamma (uppercase , lowercase ; ''gámma'') is the third letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 3. In Ancient Greek, the letter gamma represented a voiced velar stop . In Modern Greek, this letter rep ...

gamma
, but it was used for the sounds and alike, possibly under the influence of
Etruscan__NOTOC__ Etruscan may refer to: Ancient civilisation *The Etruscan language, an extinct language in ancient Italy *Something derived from or related to the Etruscan civilization **Etruscan architecture **Etruscan art **Etruscan cities **Etruscan ...
, which might have lacked any voiced
plosives In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
. Later, probably during the 3rd century BC, the letter – unneeded to write Latin properly – was replaced with the new letter , a modified with a small vertical stroke, which took its place in the alphabet. From then on, represented the
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize i ...
plosive , while was generally reserved for the voiceless plosive . The letter was used only rarely, in a small number of words such as '' Kalendae'', often interchangeably with .


Classical Latin alphabet

After the
Roman conquest of Greece Greece in the Roman era describes the Roman conquest of Greece, as well as the period of Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ...
in the 1st century BC, Latin adopted the Greek letters and (or readopted, in the latter case) to write
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
loanwords, placing them at the end of the alphabet. An attempt by the
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
Claudius Claudius ( ; Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). Th ...

Claudius
to introduce three
additional letters
additional letters
did not last. Thus it was during the
classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestur ...
period that the Latin alphabet contained 23 letters: The Latin names of some of these letters are disputed; for example, may have been called or . In general the Romans did not use the traditional (
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
-derived) names as in Greek: the names of the
plosives In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
were formed by adding to their sound (except for and , which needed different vowels to be distinguished from ) and the names of the
continuant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical p ...
s consisted either of the bare sound, or the sound preceded by . The letter when introduced was probably called "hy" as in Greek, the name
upsilon Upsilon (; or ; uppercase Υ, lowercase υ; el, ''ýpsilon'' ) or ypsilon is the 20th letter of the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is der ...
not being in use yet, but this was changed to "i Graeca" (Greek i) as Latin speakers had difficulty distinguishing its foreign sound from . was given its Greek name,
zeta Zeta (, ; uppercase Ζ, lowercase ζ; grc, ζῆτα, el, ζήτα, label=Demotic Greek Demotic Greek or Dimotiki ( el, Δημοτική Γλώσσα, , , lit. "language of the people") was a colloquial vernacular form of Modern Greek, in c ...
. This scheme has continued to be used by most modern European languages that have adopted the Latin alphabet. For the Latin sounds represented by the various letters see
Latin spelling and pronunciation Latin phonology continually evolved over the centuries, making it difficult for speakers in one era to know how Latin was spoken before then. A given phoneme may be represented by different letters in different periods. This article deals primar ...
; for the names of the letters in English see
English alphabet The modern English alphabet is a consisting of 26 , each having an form. It originated around the 7th century from . Since then, letters have been added or removed to give the current Modern English of 26 letters with no s, , no ...
.
Diacritics A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that ...
were not regularly used, but they did occur sometimes, the most common being the
apex Apex may refer to: Arts and media Fictional entities * Apex (comics), a teenaged super villainess in the Marvel Universe * Ape-X, a super-intelligent ape in the Squadron Supreme universe *Apex, a genetically-engineered human population in the TV s ...
used to mark
long vowel In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
s, which had previously sometimes been written doubled. However, in place of taking an apex, the letter i was written
taller Taller is a Communes of France, commune in the Landes (department), Landes Departments of France, department in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France. William II Sánchez of Gascony perpetrated a major defeat of the Vikings at Taller in 982 ...
: . For example, what is today transcribed ''Lūciī a fīliī'' was written in the inscription depicted. The primary mark of punctuation was the
interpunct An interpunct, , also known as an interpoint, middle dot, middot and centered dot or centred dot, is a punctuation mark consisting of a vertically centered dot used for interword separation In punctuation, a word divider is a glyph that separ ...

interpunct
, which was used as a
word divider In punctuation, a word divider is a glyph that separates written words. In languages which use the Latin alphabet, Latin, Cyrillic script, Cyrillic, and Arabic alphabets, as well as other scripts of Europe and West Asia, the word divider is a bla ...
, though it fell out of use after 200 AD. Old Roman cursive script, also called
majuscule Letter case is the distinction between the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or i ...
cursive and capitalis cursive, was the everyday form of handwriting used for writing letters, by merchants writing business accounts, by schoolchildren learning the Latin alphabet, and even emperors issuing commands. A more formal style of writing was based on
Roman square capitals Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
, but cursive was used for quicker, informal writing. It was most commonly used from about the 1st century BC to the 3rd century, but it probably existed earlier than that. It led to
Uncial Uncial is a . (1996) ''Encyclopedia of the Book''. 2nd edn. New Castle, DE, and London: Oak Knoll Press & , p. 494. (written entirely in capital letters) commonly used from the 4th to 8th centuries AD by and s. Uncial letters were used to wr ...
, a
majuscule Letter case is the distinction between the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or i ...
script commonly used from the 3rd to 8th centuries AD by Latin and Greek scribes. New Roman cursive script, also known as
minuscule Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the Letter (alphabet), letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written representation ...
cursive, was in use from the 3rd century to the 7th century, and uses letter forms that are more recognizable to modern eyes; , , , and had taken a more familiar shape, and the other letters were proportionate to each other. This script evolved into the medieval scripts known as
Merovingian The Merovingian dynasty () was the ruling family of the Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the Lower Rhine and ...
and
Carolingian minuscule Carolingian minuscule or Caroline minuscule is a script which developed as a calligraphic standard in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), conventio ...
.


Medieval and later developments

It was not until the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
that the letter (originally a
ligature Ligature may refer to: * Ligature (medicine), a piece of suture used to shut off a blood vessel or other anatomical structure ** Ligature (orthodontic), used in dentistry * Ligature (music), an element of musical notation used especially in the med ...
of two s) was added to the Latin alphabet, to represent sounds from the
Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...
s which did not exist in medieval Latin, and only after the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
did the convention of treating and as
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
s, and and as
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
s, become established. Prior to that, the former had been merely allographs of the latter. With the fragmentation of political power, the style of writing changed and varied greatly throughout the Middle Ages, even after the invention of the
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water ...
. Early deviations from the classical forms were the
uncial script Uncial is a majuscule Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written represe ...
, a development of the Old Roman cursive, and various so-called minuscule scripts that developed from New Roman cursive, of which the
insular script Insular script was a medieval script system invented in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the ...
developed by Irish literati and derivations of this, such as
Carolingian minuscule Carolingian minuscule or Caroline minuscule is a script which developed as a calligraphic standard in Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), conventio ...
were the most influential, introducing the
lower case Letter case is the distinction between the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or ...
forms of the letters, as well as other writing conventions that have since become standard. The languages that use the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Cumae alphabet, Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscan civilizat ...

Latin script
generally use
capital letters Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the Letter (alphabet), letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written representation ...

capital letters
to begin paragraphs and sentences and
proper nouns A proper noun is a noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (lingu ...
. The rules for
capitalization Capitalization (North American English North American English (NAmE, NAE) is the most generalized variety (linguistics), variety of the English language as spoken in the United States and Canada. Because of their related histories and cultur ...
have changed over time, and different languages have varied in their rules for capitalization.
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
, for example, was rarely written with even proper nouns capitalized, whereas
Modern English Modern English (sometimes New English or NE (ME) as opposed to Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th cen ...

Modern English
writers and printers of the 17th and 18th century frequently capitalized most and sometimes all nouns, which is still systematically done in Modern
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, e.g. in the preamble and all of the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the Supremacy Clause, supreme law of the United States, United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first ...

United States Constitution
: ''We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.''


Spread

The Latin alphabet spread, along with the
Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin language
, from the
Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Reg ...
to the lands surrounding the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
with the expansion of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. The
eastern half of the Empire
eastern half of the Empire
, including
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...

Greece
,
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
, the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
, continued to use
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a ...
, but Latin was widely spoken in the
western half
western half
, and as the western
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
evolved out of Latin, they continued to use and adapt the Latin alphabet. With the spread of
Western Christianity Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings ...
during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, the script was gradually adopted by the peoples of
northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
who spoke
Celtic languages The Celtic languages ( , ) are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language In the tree model In historical linguistics Historica ...
(displacing the
Ogham Ogham ( , Modern Irish Irish ( in ), sometimes referred to as Gaelic, is a of the branch of the , which is a part of the . Irish is to the and was the population's until the late 18th century. Although has been the first language o ...

Ogham
alphabet) or
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian su ...

Germanic languages
(displacing earlier
Runic alphabets Runes are the letters in a set of related alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols or graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing syste ...

Runic alphabets
),
Baltic languages The Baltic languages belong to the Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages sha ...

Baltic languages
, as well as by the speakers of several
Uralic languages The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken langua ...

Uralic languages
, most notably
HungarianHungarian may refer to: * Hungary, a country in Central Europe * Kingdom of Hungary, state of Hungary, existing between 1000 and 1946 * Hungarians, ethnic groups in Hungary * Hungarian algorithm, a polynomial time algorithm for solving the assignmen ...
,
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
and
Estonian Estonian may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Estonia, a country in the Baltic region in northern Europe *Estonians, people from Estonia, or of Estonian descent *Estonian language *Estonian cuisine *Estonian culture See also

* * La ...
. The Latin alphabet came into use for writing the
West Slavic languages The West Slavic languages are a subdivision of the Slavic language group. They include Polish, Czech, Slovak, Kashubian, Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian. The languages are spoken across a continuous region encompassing the Czech Republic ...
and several
South Slavic languages The South Slavic languages are one of three branches of the Slavic languages. There are approximately 30 million speakers, mainly in the Balkans. These are separated geographically from speakers of the other two Slavic branches (West Slavic lang ...
, as the people who spoke them adopted
Roman Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...

Roman Catholicism
. Later, it was adopted by non-Catholic countries.
Romanian Romanian may refer to: *anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Euro ...
, most of whose speakers are
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
, was the first major language to switch from
Cyrillic The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia and is used as the national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, Mongolic, Uralic languages, Uralic, Caucas ...
to Latin script, doing so in the 19th century, although
Moldova Moldova (, ; ), officially the Republic of Moldova ( ro, Republica Moldova), is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to ...

Moldova
only did so after the Soviet collapse. It has also been increasingly adopted by
Turkic-speaking
Turkic-speaking
countries, beginning with
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and ...

Turkey
in the 1920s. After the Soviet collapse,
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
,
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan ( or ; tk, Türkmenistan, ), also known as Turkmenia, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. There ar ...

Turkmenistan
, and
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan (, ; uz, Ozbekiston, ), officially the Republic of Uzbekistan ( uz, Ozbekiston Respublikasi), is a landlocked country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land ...

Uzbekistan
all switched from Cyrillic to Latin. The government of
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan ( kk, Қазақстан, Qazaqstan; russian: Казахстан, Kazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan,; russian: Республика Казахстан, Respublika Kazakhstan, link=no) is a country located mainly in ...

Kazakhstan
announced in 2015 that the Latin alphabet would replace Cyrillic as the writing system for the Kazakh language by 2025.Kazakh language to be converted to Latin alphabet – MCS RK
Inform.kz (30 January 2015). Retrieved on 2015-09-28. The spread of the Latin alphabet among previously illiterate peoples has inspired the creation of new writing systems, such as the Avoiuli alphabet in
Vanuatu Vanuatu ( or ; ), officially the Republic of Vanuatu (french: link=no, République de Vanuatu; Bislama: ''Ripablik blong Vanuatu''), is an island country located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is ea ...

Vanuatu
, which replaces the letters of the Latin alphabet with alternative symbols.


See also

*
Latin spelling and pronunciation Latin phonology continually evolved over the centuries, making it difficult for speakers in one era to know how Latin was spoken before then. A given phoneme may be represented by different letters in different periods. This article deals primar ...
*
Calligraphy Calligraphy (from Greek language, Greek: καλλιγραφία) is a Visual arts, visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a broad-tipped instrument, brush, or other writing instrument. A contemporary call ...

Calligraphy
*
Euboean alphabet Many local variants of the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in ...
*
Latin script in UnicodeOver a thousand characters from the Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is a set of graphic signs (Writing system#General properties, script) based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet. This is derived from a form of ...
*
ISO basic Latin alphabet The ISO basic Latin alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet A Latin-script alphabet (Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet) is an alphabet that uses Letter (alphabet), letters of the Latin script. The 21-letter archaic Latin alphabet and the 23-lette ...
*
Latin-1 ISO/IEC 8859-1:1998, ''Information technology — 8-bit In computer architecture, 8-bit integer (computer science), integers or other data#Uses of data in computing, data units are those that are 8 bits wide (1 octet). Also, 8-bit c ...
* Legacy of the Roman Empire *
Palaeography Palaeography ( UK) or paleography ( US; ultimately from grc-gre, , ''palaiós'', "old", and , ''gráphein'', "to write") is the study of historic writing systems and the deciphering and dating of historical manuscripts, including the analysi ...
*
Phoenician alphabet The Phoenician alphabet is an alphabet (more specifically, an abjad) known in modern times from the Canaanite and Aramaic inscriptions found across the Mediterranean region. The Phoenician alphabet is also called the Early Linear script (in a ...

Phoenician alphabet
*
Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin, ...

Pinyin
* Roman letters used in mathematics *Typography *Western Latin character sets (computing)


Notes


References


Further reading

* Transl. of , as revised by the author * * *: Peter Lang. * *


External links


Lewis and Short ''Latin Dictionary'' on the letter ''G''
{{DEFAULTSORT:Latin Alphabet Latin alphabet, Typography History of the Roman Empire