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Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an
alphabetic 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 can be uttered in isolation with semantic ...
writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communic ...
based on the letters of the
classical Latin alphabet 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 historians in developing history as an academic discipline, a ...
, derived from a form of 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
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 ...
. Several
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 exist, which differ in graphemes, collation and phonetic values from the
classical Latin alphabet 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 historians in developing history as an academic discipline, a ...
. The Latin script is the basis of 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 ...
, and the 26 most widespread letters are the letters contained in the
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 script is the basis for the largest number of alphabets of any
writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communic ...
and is the most widely adopted writing system in the world (commonly used by about 70 percent of the world's population). Latin script is used as the standard method of writing for most Western and Central, and some Eastern, European languages as well as many languages in other parts of the world.


Name

The script is either called Latin script or Roman script, in reference to its origin in
ancient Rome 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 stud ...
. In the context of
transliteration Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script (styles of ha ...

transliteration
, the term "
romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspec ...
" (
British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a populatio ...
: "romanisation") is often found.
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
uses the term "Latin" as does the
International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on 23 February 1947, the organization develops and publish ...
(ISO). The numeral system is called the Roman numeral system, and the collection of the elements is known as the
Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe well into the . Numbers in this system are represented by combinations of letters from the . Modern style uses seven symbols, each with a ...
. The numbers 1, 2, 3 ... are Latin/Roman script numbers for the
Hindu–Arabic numeral system The Hindu–Arabic numeral system or Indo-Arabic numeral system Audun HolmeGeometry: Our Cultural Heritage 2000 (also called the Arabic numeral system or Hindu numeral system) is a positional notation, positional decimal numeral system, and is t ...
.


History


Old Italic alphabet


Archaic Latin alphabet

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
plosive 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 ...

plosive
s. 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 horizontal 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
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 History of the Roman Empire, imperial p ...

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:


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 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 sub ...

Germanic languages
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 & 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 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 – e.g. in the preamble and all of the United States Constitution – a practice still systematically used 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
.


ISO basic Latin alphabet

The use of the letters I and V for both consonants and vowels proved inconvenient as the Latin alphabet was adapted to Germanic and Romance languages.
W
W
originated as a doubled
V
V
(VV) used to represent the found in
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 ...
as early as the 7th century. It came into common use in the later 11th century, replacing the letter
wynn Wynn or wyn (; also spelled wen, ƿynn, and ƿen) is a letter of the Old English alphabet, where it is used to represent the sound . History The letter "W" While the earliest Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the ear ...

wynn
, which had been used for the same sound. In the Romance languages, the minuscule form of V was a rounded ''u''; from this was derived a rounded capital U for the vowel in the 16th century, while a new, pointed minuscule ''v'' was derived from V for the consonant. In the case of I, a word-final
swash Swash, or forewash in geography, is a turbulence, turbulent layer of water that washes up on the beach after an incoming ocean surface wave, wave has broken. The swash action can move beach materials up and down the beach, which results in the c ...
form, ''j'', came to be used for the consonant, with the un-swashed form restricted to vowel use. Such conventions were erratic for centuries. J was introduced into English for the consonant in the 17th century (it had been rare as a vowel), but it was not universally considered a distinct letter in the alphabetic order until the 19th century. By the 1960s, it became apparent to the computer and
telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical A cylinder (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Gr ...
s industries in the
First World The concept of First World originated during the Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a Federalism, ...
that a non-proprietary method of encoding characters was needed. The
International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on 23 February 1947, the organization develops and publish ...
(ISO) encapsulated the Latin alphabet in their (
ISO/IEC 646 ISO/IEC 646 is the name of a set of ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), nor ...
) 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 ASCII ( ), abbreviated from American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a character encoding In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the stu ...
, which included in the
character set Character encoding is the process of assigning numbers to Graphics, graphical character (computing), characters, especially the written characters of Language, human language, allowing them to be Data storage, stored, Data communication, transmit ...
the 26 × 2 (uppercase and lowercase) letters of 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 ...
. Later standards issued by the ISO, for example
ISO/IEC 10646 ISO/IEC JTC 1 is a joint technical committee (JTC) of the International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from var ...
( Unicode Latin), have continued to define the 26 × 2 letters of the English alphabet as the basic Latin alphabet with extensions to handle other letters in other languages.


Spread

The Latin alphabet spread, along with
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
, 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, including Greece, Turkey, 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, 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, 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.


Middle Ages

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 Latin alphabet 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 sub ...

Germanic languages
(displacing earlier
Runic alphabet Runes are 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 is understood as representing ...
s) or
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 script also 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
. The speakers of
East Slavic languages The East Slavic languages constitute one of the three regional subgroups of Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family nativ ...
generally adopted
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 ...
along with
Orthodox Christianity Orthodoxy (from 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 approxima ...
. The
Serbian language Serbian (, ) is the standard language, standardized Variety (linguistics)#Standard varieties, variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. It is the official and national language of Serbia, one of the three official languages of ...
uses both scripts, with Cyrillic predominating in official communication and Latin elsewhere, as determined by the Law on Official Use of the Language and Alphabet.


Since the 16th century

As late as 1500, the Latin script was limited primarily to the languages spoken in
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

Western
, Northern, and
Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of with both ...

Central Europe
. The Orthodox Christian Slavs of
Eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct American airline that operated from 1926 to 1991 *Eastern Air Lin ...

Eastern
and
Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the ...

Southeastern Europe
mostly used
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 ...
, and the Greek alphabet was in use by Greek-speakers around the eastern Mediterranean. The
Arabic script
Arabic script
was widespread within Islam, both among
Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, : , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, : , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an mainly inhabiting the . In modern usage the term refers to those who originate from an Arab co ...

Arab
s and non-Arab nations like the Iranians,
Indonesians Indonesians (Indonesian Indonesian is anything of, from, or related to Indonesia, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It may refer to: * Indonesians, citizens of Indonesia ** Native Indonesians, diverse groups of local inhabitants of the ...
, Malays, and
Turkic peoples The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups of Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, North Asia, North and West Asia as well as parts of Europe and North Africa, who speak Turkic languages.. "Turkic peoples, any of various peoples w ...
. Most of the rest of Asia used a variety of Brahmic alphabets or the
Chinese script Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system The modern Jap ...
. Through
European colonization The historical phenomenon of colonization is one that stretches around the globe and across time. Ancient and medieval colonialism was practiced by the Phoenicians, the Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ...
the Latin script has spread to the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
,
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Eart ...

Oceania
, parts of Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, in forms based on the
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...
,
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...
, French,
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 ...
and
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
alphabets. It is used for many
Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are 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 language), Signed language, sign ...
, including the
languages of the Philippines There are some 120 to 187 languages spoken in the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, R ...
and the Malaysian and
Indonesian language Indonesian (, ) is the official language of Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-E ...

Indonesian language
s, replacing earlier Arabic and indigenous Brahmic alphabets. Latin letters served as the basis for the forms of the
Cherokee syllabary The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah in the late 1810s and early 1820s to write the Cherokee language. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy as he was illiterate until the creation of his syllabary. He fi ...

Cherokee syllabary
developed by
Sequoyah Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏉᏯ ''Ssiquoya'', as he signed his name, or ᏎᏉᏯ ''Se-quo-ya'', as is often spelled in Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are on ...

Sequoyah
; however, the sound values are completely different. Under Portuguese missionary influence, a Latin alphabet was devised for the
Vietnamese language Vietnamese ( vi, tiếng Việt, links=no) is an that originated in , where it is the and . Vietnamese is spoken natively by over 70 million people, several times as many as the rest of the Austroasiatic family combined. It is the of the , a ...
, which had previously used
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...

Chinese characters
. The Latin-based alphabet replaced the Chinese characters in administration in the 19th century with French rule.


Since 19th century

In the late 19th century, the Romanians returned to the Latin alphabet, which they had used until the Council of Florence in 1439, primarily because Romanian language, Romanian is a Romance language. The Romanians were predominantly Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christians, and their Church, increasingly influenced by Russia after the Fall of Constantinople, fall of Byzantine Greek Constantinople in 1453 and capture of the Greek Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Orthodox Patriarch, had begun promoting the Slavic
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 ...
.


Since 20th century

In 1928, as part of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's reforms, the new Turkey, Republic of Turkey adopted a Latin alphabet for the Turkish language, replacing a modified Arabic alphabet. Most of the Turkic languages, Turkic-speaking peoples of the former Soviet Union, USSR, including Tatars, Bashkirs, Azeri, Kazakhs, Kazakh, Kyrgyz people, Kyrgyz and others, used the Latin-based Uniform Turkic alphabet in the 1930s; but, in the 1940s, all were replaced by Cyrillic. After the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, three of the newly independent Turkic-speaking republics, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, as well as Romanian-speaking Moldova, officially adopted Latin alphabets for their languages. Kyrgyzstan, Iranian languages, Iranian-speaking Tajikistan, and the breakaway region of Transnistria kept the Cyrillic alphabet, chiefly due to their close ties with Russia. In the 1930s and 1940s, the majority of Kurds replaced the Arabic script with two Latin alphabets. Although only the official Kurdistan Regional Government, Kurdish government uses an Arabic alphabet for public documents, the Latin Kurdish alphabet remains widely used throughout the region by the majority of Kurdish language, Kurdish-speakers. In 1957, the China, People's Republic of China introduced a script reform to the Standard Zhuang, Zhuang language, changing its orthography from unregulated and highly inconsistent use of Chinese characters, known as sawndip, to a Latin script alphabet that used a mixture of Latin, Cyrillic, and IPA letters to represent both the phonemes and tones of the Zhuang language, without the use of diacritics. In 1982 this was further standardised to use only Latin script letters. With the collapse of the Derg and subsequent end of decades of Amharic assimilation in 1991, various ethnic groups in Ethiopia dropped the Geʽez script, which was deemed unsuitable for languages outside of the Semitic languages, Semitic branch. In the following years the Kafa language, Kafa, Oromo language, Oromo, Sidama language, Sidama, Somali language, Somali, and Wolaitta language, Wolaitta languages switched to Latin while there is continued debate on whether to follow suit for the Hadiyya language, Hadiyya and Kambaata language, Kambaata languages.


21st century

On 15 September 1999 the authorities of Tatarstan, Russia, passed a law to make the Latin script a co-official writing system alongside Cyrillic for the Tatar language by 2011. A year later, however, the Russian government overruled the law and banned Latinization on its territory. In 2015, the government of Kazakhstan announced that a Kazakh alphabets#Latin script, Kazakh Latin alphabet would replace the Kazakh alphabets#Cyrillic script, Kazakh Cyrillic alphabet as the official writing system for the Kazakh language by 2025. There are also talks about switching from the Cyrillic script to Latin in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia. Mongolia, however, has since opted to revive the Mongolian script instead of switching to Latin. In October 2019, the organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, National Representational Organization for Inuit in Canada (ITK) announced that they will introduce a unified writing system for the Inuit languages in the country. The writing system is based on the Latin alphabet and is modeled after the one used in the Greenlandic language. On 12 February 2021 the government of Uzbekistan announced it will finalize the transition from Cyrillic to Latin for the Uzbek language by 2023. Plans to switch to Latin originally began in 1993 but subsequently stalled and Cyrillic remained in widespread use. At present the Crimean Tatar language uses both Cyrillic and Latin. The use of Latin was originally approved by Crimean Tatar representatives after the Soviet Union's collapse but was never implemented by the regional government. After Russia's Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, annexation of Crimea in 2014 the Latin script was dropped entirely. Nevertheless Crimean Tatars outside of Crimea continue to use Latin and on 22 October 2021 the government of Ukraine approved a proposal endorsed by the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People to switch the Crimean Tatar language to Latin by 2025. In July 2020, 2.6 billion people (36% of the world population) use the Latin alphabet.


International standards

By the 1960s, it became apparent to the computer and
telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical A cylinder (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Gr ...
s industries in the
First World The concept of First World originated during the Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a Federalism, ...
that a non-proprietary method of encoding characters was needed. The
International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on 23 February 1947, the organization develops and publish ...
(ISO) encapsulated the Latin alphabet in their (
ISO/IEC 646 ISO/IEC 646 is the name of a set of ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), nor ...
) 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 ASCII ( ), abbreviated from American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a character encoding In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the stu ...
, which included in the
character set Character encoding is the process of assigning numbers to Graphics, graphical character (computing), characters, especially the written characters of Language, human language, allowing them to be Data storage, stored, Data communication, transmit ...
the 26 × 2 (uppercase and lowercase) letters of 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 ...
. Later standards issued by the ISO, for example
ISO/IEC 10646 ISO/IEC JTC 1 is a joint technical committee (JTC) of the International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from var ...
(Latin characters in Unicode, Unicode Latin), have continued to define the 26 × 2 letters of the English alphabet as the basic Latin alphabet with extensions to handle other letters in other languages.


As used by various languages

In the course of its use, the Latin alphabet was adapted for use in new languages, sometimes representing phonemes not found in languages that were already written with the Roman characters. To represent these new sounds, extensions were therefore created, be it by adding diacritics to existing letter (alphabet), letters, by joining multiple letters together to make ligature (typography), ligatures, by creating completely new forms, or by assigning a special function to pairs or triplets of letters. These new forms are given a place in the alphabet by defining an collation, alphabetical order or collation sequence, which can vary with the particular language.


Letters

Some examples of new letters to the standard Latin alphabet are the Runic alphabet, Runic letters
wynn Wynn or wyn (; also spelled wen, ƿynn, and ƿen) is a letter of the Old English alphabet, where it is used to represent the sound . History The letter "W" While the earliest Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the ear ...

wynn
and thorn (letter), thorn , and the letter eth , which were added to the alphabet of
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 ...
. Another Irish letter, the Insular G, insular ''g'', developed into yogh , used in Middle English. Wynn was later replaced with the new letter , eth and thorn with , and yogh with . Although the four are no longer part of the English or Irish alphabets, eth and thorn are still used in the modern Icelandic orthography, Icelandic alphabet, while eth is also used by the Faroese alphabet. Some West, Central and Southern African languages use a few additional letters that have sound values similar to those of their equivalents in the IPA. For example, Adangme language, Adangme uses the letters and , and Ga language, Ga uses , and . Hausa language, Hausa uses and for implosive consonant, implosives, and for an ejective consonant, ejective. African studies, Africanists have standardized these into the African reference alphabet. Dotted and dotless I — and — are two forms of the letter I used by the Turkish alphabet, Turkish, Azerbaijani alphabet, Azerbaijani, and Kazakh alphabets, Kazakh alphabets. The Azerbaijani language also has , which represents the near-open front unrounded vowel.


Multigraphs

A digraph (orthography), digraph is a pair of letters used to write one sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters in sequence. Examples are , , , , , in English, and , , and in Dutch. In Dutch the is capitalized as or the Ligature (typography), ligature , but never as , and it often takes the appearance of a ligature very similar to the letter in handwriting. A trigraph (orthography), trigraph is made up of three letters, like the
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
, the Breton language, Breton or the Milanese . In the orthography, orthographies of some languages, digraphs and trigraphs are regarded as independent letters of the alphabet in their own right. The capitalization of digraphs and trigraphs is language-dependent, as only the first letter may be capitalized, or all component letters simultaneously (even for words written in title case, where letters after the digraph or trigraph are left in lowercase).


Ligatures

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 ...
is a fusion of two or more ordinary letters into a new glyph or character. Examples are (from , called "ash"), (from , sometimes called "oethel"), the abbreviation (from la, et, , and, called "ampersand"), and (from or , the Long s, archaic medial form of , followed by an or , called "sharp S" or "eszett").


Diacritics

A diacritic, in some cases also called an accent, is a small symbol that can appear above or below a letter, or in some other position, such as the umlaut (diacritic), umlaut sign used in the German characters , , or the Romanian characters ă, â, î, S-comma, ș, T-comma, ț. Its main function is to change the phonetic value of the letter to which it is added, but it may also modify the pronunciation of a whole syllable or word, or distinguish between homonym, homographs (such as the Dutch language, Dutch words ''wikt:een, een'' () meaning "a" or "an", and ''wikt:één, één'', () meaning "one"). As with letters, the value of diacritics is language-dependent. English is the only major modern Languages of Europe, European language requiring no diacritics for native words (although a diaeresis (diacritic), diaeresis may be used in words such as "coöperation")."The New Yorker's odd markthe diaeresis"
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Collation

Some modified letters, such as the symbols , , and , may be regarded as new individual letters in themselves, and assigned a specific place in the alphabet for collation purposes, separate from that of the letter on which they are based, as is done in Swedish alphabet, Swedish. In other cases, such as with , , in German, this is not done; letter-diacritic combinations being identified with their base letter. The same applies to digraphs and trigraphs. Different diacritics may be treated differently in collation within a single language. For example, in Spanish, the character is considered a letter, and sorted between and in dictionaries, but the accented vowels , , , , are not separated from the unaccented vowels , , , , .


Capitalization

The languages that use the Latin script today 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 language, Old English, 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
of the 18th century had frequently all nouns capitalized, in the same way that 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
is written today, e.g. german: Alle Schwestern der alten Stadt hatten die Vögel gesehen, , All of the sisters of the old city had seen the birds.


Romanization

Words from languages natively written with other Writing system, scripts, such as Romanization of Arabic, Arabic or Romanization of Chinese, Chinese, are usually transliteration, transliterated or Transcription (linguistics), transcribed when embedded in Latin-script text or in Multilingualism, multilingual international communication, a process termed ''Romanization''. Whilst the Romanization of such languages is used mostly at unofficial levels, it has been especially prominent in computer messaging where only the limited seven-bit
ASCII ASCII ( ), abbreviated from American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a character encoding In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the stu ...
code is available on older systems. However, with the introduction of
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology Technical standard, standard for the consistent character encoding, encoding, representation, and handling of Character (computing), text expressed in most of the world's wri ...

Unicode
, Romanization is now becoming less necessary. Note that keyboards used to enter such text may still restrict users to Romanized text, as only ASCII or Latin-alphabet characters may be available.


See also

* List of languages by writing system#Latin script * Western Latin character sets (computing) * Latin letters used in mathematics


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

*


Further reading

* Boyle, Leonard E. 1976. "Optimist and recensionist: 'Common errors' or 'common variations.'" In ''Latin script and letters A.D. 400–900: Festschrift presented to Ludwig Bieler on the occasion of his 70th birthday.'' Edited by John J. O'Meara and Bernd Naumann, 264–74. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. * Morison, Stanley. 1972. ''Politics and script: Aspects of authority and freedom in the development of Graeco-Latin script from the sixth century B.C. to the twentieth century A.D.'' Oxford: Clarendon.


External links


Unicode collation chart
Latin letters sorted by shape
Diacritics ProjectAll you need to design a font with correct accents
{{Authority control Latin script, History of the Roman Empire