Latin alphabet

Latin alphabet

Infobox Writing system
name=Latin alphabet
languages=Latin and Romance languages; most languages of Europe; Romanizations exist for practically all known languages.
time=~700 B.C. to the present.
fam1=Egyptian hieroglyphs
fam3=Proto-Canaanite alphabet
fam4=Phoenician alphabet
fam5=Greek alphabet
fam6=Old Italic alphabet
children=Numerous: see Alphabets derived from the Latin
unicode=See Latin characters in Unicode
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world todayFact|date=September 2008. It evolved from the western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, and was initially developed by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language.

During the Middle Ages, it was adapted to the Romance languages, the direct descendants of Latin, as well as to the Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, and some Slavic languages, and finally to most of the languages of Europe.

With the age of colonialism and Christian proselytism, the Latin alphabet was spread overseas, and applied to Amerindian, Indigenous Australian, Austronesian, East Asian, and African languages. More recently, western linguists have also tended to prefer the Latin alphabet or the International Phonetic Alphabet (itself largely based on the Latin alphabet) when transcribing or devising written standards for non-European languages, such as the African reference alphabet.

In modern usage, the term "Latin alphabet" is used for any straightforward derivation of the alphabet first used to write Latin. These variants may discard some letters (like the Rotokas alphabet) or add extra letters (like the Danish and Norwegian alphabet) to or from the classical Roman script. Letter shapes have changed over the centuries, including the creation of entirely new lower case forms.



It is generally held that the Latins adopted the Cumae alphabet‎, a variant of the Greek alphabet, in the 7th century B.C. from Cumae, a Greek colony in Southern Italy. Roman legend credited the introduction to one Evander, son of the Sibyl, supposedly 60 years before the Trojan War, but there is no historically sound basis to this tale. From the Cumae alphabet, the Etruscan alphabet was derived and the Latins eventually adopted 21 of the original 26 Etruscan letters:

In addition, the ligatures "Æ" of "A" with "E" (e.g. "encyclopædia"), and "Œ" of "O" with "E" (e.g. "cœlom") may be used, optionally, in words derived from Latin or Greek, and the diaeresis mark is sometimes placed for example on the letter "o" (e.g. "coöperate") to indicate the pronunciation of "oo" as two distinct vowels, rather than a long one. Outside of professional papers on specific subjects that traditionally use ligatures in loanwords, however, ligatures and diaereses are seldom used in modern English.

Latin alphabet and international standards

By the 1960s it became apparent to the computer and telecommunications industries in the First World that a non-proprietary method of encoding characters was needed. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) encapsulated the Latin alphabet in their (ISO/IEC 646) standard. To achieve widespread acceptance, this encapsulation was based on popular usage. As the United States held a preeminent position in both industries during the 1960s the standard was based on the already published "American Standard Code for Information Interchange", better known as ASCII, which included in the character set the 26 x 2 letters of the English alphabet. Later standards issued by the ISO, for example ISO/IEC 10646 (Unicode Latin), have continued to define the 26 x 2 letters of the English alphabet as the basic Latin alphabet with extensions to handle other letters in other languages.

ee also

*Alphabets derived from the Latin
*Beghilos (Calculator spelling)
*Keyboard layout
*List of Latin letters
*Phoenician alphabet
*Roman letters used in mathematics

Further reading

*cite book|author=Jensen, Hans |year=1970|title=Sign Symbol and Script |location=London |publisher=George Allen and Unwin Ltd|id=ISBN 0-04-400021-9 . Transl. of cite book |author=Jensen, Hans |title=Die Schrift in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart |publisher=VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften |year=1958, as revised by the author
*cite book|author=Rix, Helmut |year=1993 |chapter=La scrittura e la lingua|editor=Cristofani, Mauro (hrsg.) |title=Gli etruschi - Una nuova immagine|location=Firenze |publisher=Giunti|pages=S.199-227
*cite book|author=Sampson, Geoffrey |year=1985|title=Writing systems |publisher=London (etc.): Hutchinson
*cite book|author=Wachter, Rudolf |year=1987 |title=Altlateinische Inschriften: sprachliche und epigraphische Untersuchungen zu den Dokumenten bis etwa 150 v.Chr. Bern (etc.): Peter Lang.
*cite book|chapter=The names of the letters of the Latin alphabet "(Appendix C)" |author=W. Sidney Allen|title=Vox Latina — a guide to the pronunciation of classical Latin |publisher=Cambridge University Press|year=1978 |id=ISBN 0-521-22049-1 (Second edition)
*cite book|author=Biktaş, Şamil |year=2003 |title=Tuğan Tel
* [ Diacritics Project — All you need to design a font with correct accents]
* [ Lewis and Short "Latin Dictionary" on the letter "G"]
* [ Latin-Alphabet]
* [ Latin alphabet at]

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