- Latin alphabet
the alphabetical script derived from the Greek alphabet through Etruscan, used from about the 6th century B.C. for the writing of Latin, and since adopted, with modifications and additions of letters such as w, by the languages of Western Europe, including English, as well as many other languages. Also called Roman alphabet.[1865-70]
* * *Most widely used alphabet, the standard script of most languages that originated in Europe.It developed before 600 BC from the Etruscan alphabet (in turn derived from the North Semitic alphabet by way of the Phoenician and Greek alphabets). The earliest known Latin inscriptions date from the 7th–6th cent. BC. The classical Latin alphabet had 23 letters, 21 derived from the Etruscan. In medieval times the letter J became differentiated from I, and U and W became differentiated from V, producing the 26-letter alphabet of modern English. In ancient Roman times there were two types of Latin script, capital letters and cursive. Uncial script, mixing both types, developed in the 3rd century AD.
* * *also called Roman alphabetmost widely used alphabetic writing system in the world, the standard script of the English language and the languages of most of Europe and those areas settled by Europeans. Developed from the Etruscan alphabet at some time before 600 BC, it can be traced through Etruscan, Greek, and Phoenician scripts to the North Semitic alphabet used in Syria and Palestine about 1100 BC. The earliest inscription in the Latin alphabet appears on the Praeneste Fibula, a cloak pin dating from about the 7th century BC, which reads, “MANIOS MED FHEFHAKED NUMASIOI” (in Classical Latin: “Manius me fecit Numerio,” meaning “Manius made me for Numerius”). Dated not much later than this is a vertical inscription on a small pillar in the Roman Forum, and the Duenos inscription on a vase found near the Quirinal (a hill in Rome) probably dates to the 6th century BC. Although experts disagree on the dating of these objects, the inscriptions are generally considered to be the oldest extant examples of the Latin alphabet.The classical Latin alphabet consisted of 23 letters, 21 of which were derived from the Etruscan alphabet. In medieval times the letter I was differentiated into I and J and V into U, V, and W, producing an alphabet equivalent to that of modern English with 26 letters. Some European languages currently using the Latin alphabet do not use the letters K and W, and some add extra letters (usually standard Latin letters with diacritical marks added or sometimes pairs of letters read as one sound).In ancient Roman times there were two main types of Latin script, capital letters and cursive. There were also varieties of writing that mixed capitals and cursive or semicursive letters; Latin uncial script developed from such a mixed form in the 3rd century AD. In the Middle Ages many different Latin scripts developed from capital, cursive, and uncial forms. The round “humanistic” handwriting, used for copying books, and a more angular cursive script, used for legal and commercial purposes in 15th-century Italy, gave rise, respectively, to the roman and italic typefaces currently used in printing.
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