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Latin alphabet

The Latin, or Roman, alphabet was originally adapted from the Etruscan alphabet during the 7th century BC to write Latin. Since then it has had many different forms, and been adapted to write many other languages.

According to Roman legend, the Cimmerian Sibyl, Carmenta, created the Latin alphabet by adapting the Greek alphabet used in the Greek colony of Cumae in southern Italy. This was introduced to Latium by Evander, her son. 60 years after the Trojan war. There is no historical evidence to support this story, which comes from the Roman author, Gaius Julius Hyginus (64BC - 17AD).

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Versions of the Latin alphabet

Archaic Latin alphabet, Basque-style lettering, Carolingian Minuscule, Classical Latin alphabet, Fraktur, Gaelic script, Merovingian, Modern Latin alphabet, Roman Cursive, Rustic Captials, Old English, Sütterlin, Visigothic Script


Archaic Latin alphabet

The earliest known inscriptions in the Latin alphabet date from the 6th century BC. It was adapted from the Etruscan alphabet during the 7th century BC. The letters Y and Z were taken from the Greek alphabet to write Greek loan words. Other letters were added from time to time as the Latin alphabet was adapted for other languages.

Ancient Latin alphabet

Notes

Sample texts

Sample text in Archaic Latin

This is a version of the earliest known text in Latin. It is known as the Duenos inscription, and was found on the Quirinal Hill in Rome by Heinrich Dressel, a German archaeologist, in 1880. It is thought to date from the 7th to 5th century BC.

Source and more information:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duenos_inscription

Sample text in the Archaic Latin alphabet

Transliteration

Omnes homines dignitate et iure liberi et pares nascuntur, rationis et conscientiae participes sunt, quibus inter se concordiae studio est agendum.

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Other versions of the Latin alphabet

Archaic Latin alphabet, Basque-style lettering, Carolingian Minuscule, Classical Latin alphabet, Fraktur, Gaelic script, Merovingian, Modern Latin alphabet, Roman Cursive, Rustic Captials, Old English, Sütterlin, Visigothic Script

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Modern Latin alphabet

The modern Latin alphabet is used to write hundreds of different languages. Each language uses a slightly different set of letters, and they are pronounced in various ways. Some languages use the standard 26 letters, some use fewer, and others use more.

This is the modern Latin alphabet as used to write English.

English alphabet

Other versions of the Latin alphabet

Archaic Latin alphabet, Basque-style lettering, Carolingian Minuscule, Classical Latin alphabet, Fraktur, Gaelic script, Merovingian, Modern Latin alphabet, Roman Cursive, Rustic Captials, Old English, Sütterlin, Visigothic Script

Accented letters & special characters

Accented letters

Many languages supplement the basic Latin alphabet with a variety of accented letters:

a selection of accented latin letters

These accented letters can have a number of different functions:

How to type accented letters in Windows, Mac and HTML

Some extra letters

Extra Latin letters

Eth, Thorn, Yogh and Wynn were used in Old English; Eth and Thorn are also used in Icelandic; the long s was used in English and other languages to write non-final esses until about the late 18th / early 19th century; the dotted upper case i and dotless lowercase i are used in Turkish, and the schwa is used in Azeri. The other letters are used in various other languages, particularly those spoken in West Africa.

Ligatures (two or three letters joined together)

These are used in a number of languages including French, German, Icelandic, Croatian and Dutch:

Some ligatures used in the Latin alphabet

Click here to find out how to type ligatures in Windows, Mac and HTML

Further information about diacritics and their usage
http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/dia/diacritics-revised.htm,

Download charts for Latin alphabets (Excel)

Latin alphabet | Latin language | Phrases | Numbers | Time | Tower of Babel | Articles | Learning materials

Some of the languages written with the Latin alphabet

Links

Information about the Latin alphabet
http://www.ancientscripts.com/latin.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_alphabet
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Latin_script
http://la.raycui.com/alphabet.html
http://cs-exhibitions.uni-klu.ac.at/index.php?id=471
http://mysite.du.edu/~etuttle/classics/latalph.htm
http://guindo.pntic.mec.es/jmag0042/LATIN_PALEOGRAPHY.pdf

Alphabets

Other writing systems

ALPHABETUM - a Unicode font specifically designed for ancient scripts, including classical & medieval Latin, ancient Greek, Etruscan, Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Messapic, Picene, Iberian, Celtiberian, Gothic, Runic, Old & Middle English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Old Nordic, Ogham, Kharosthi, Glagolitic, Old Cyrillic, Phoenician, Avestan, Ugaritic, Linear B, Anatolian scripts, Coptic, Cypriot, Brahmi, Old Persian cuneiform: http://guindo.pntic.mec.es/~jmag0042/alphabet.html

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If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.

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