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Official script in:
Co-official script in:
|c. 700 BC – present|
| Fraser alphabet (Lisu)|
(partially) several phonetic alphabets, such as IPA, which have been used to write languages with no native script
(partially) Pollard script (Miao)
(partially) Caroline Island script (Woleaian)
(indirectly) Cherokee syllabary
(indirectly, partially) Yugtun script
| Cyrillic script |
|ISO 15924||Latn, 215|
|See Latin characters in Unicode|
Latin script, also known as Roman script, is a set of graphic signs (script) based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet. This is derived from a form of the Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet used by the Etruscans. Several Latin-script alphabets exist, which differ in graphemes, collation and phonetic values from the classical Latin alphabet.
The Latin script is the basis of the International Phonetic Alphabet and the 26 most widespread letters are the letters contained in the ISO basic Latin alphabet.
Latin script is the basis for the largest number of alphabets of any writing systemand 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 in most Western, Central, as well as in some Eastern European languages, as well as in many languages in other parts of the world.
The script is either called Latin script or Roman script, in reference to its origin in ancient Rome. In the context of transliteration, the term "romanization" (British English: "romanisation") is often found.Unicode uses the term "Latin" as does the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
The numeral system is called the Roman numeral system, and the collection of the elements is known as the Roman numerals. The numbers 1, 2, 3 ... are Latin/Roman script numbers for the Hindu–Arabic numeral system.
|As Old Italic||𐌀||𐌁||𐌂||𐌃||𐌄||𐌅||𐌆||𐌇||𐌉||𐌊||𐌋||𐌌||𐌍||𐌏||𐌐||𐌒||𐌓||𐌔||𐌕||𐌖||𐌗|
The letter ⟨C⟩ was the western form of the Greek gamma, but it was used for the sounds /ɡ/ and /k/ alike, possibly under the influence of Etruscan, which might have lacked any voiced plosives. Later, probably during the 3rd century BC, the letter ⟨Z⟩ – unneeded to write Latin properly – was replaced with the new letter ⟨G⟩, a ⟨C⟩ modified with a small horizontal stroke, which took its place in the alphabet. From then on, ⟨G⟩ represented the voiced plosive /ɡ/, while ⟨C⟩ was generally reserved for the voiceless plosive /k/. The letter ⟨K⟩ was used only rarely, in a small number of words such as Kalendae , often interchangeably with ⟨C⟩.
After the Roman conquest of Greece in the 1st century BC, Latin adopted the Greek letters ⟨Y⟩ and ⟨Z⟩ (or readopted, in the latter case) to write Greek loanwords, placing them at the end of the alphabet. An attempt by the emperor Claudius to introduce three additional letters did not last. Thus it was during the classical Latin period that the Latin alphabet contained 23 letters:
|Latin name (majus)||á||bé||cé||dé||é||ef||gé||há||ꟾ||ká||el||em||en||ó||pé||qv́||er||es||té||v́||ix||ꟾ graeca||zéta|
|Latin name||ā||bē||cē||dē||ē||ef||gē||hā||ī||kā||el||em||en||ō||pē||qū||er||es||tē||ū||ix||ī Graeca||zēta|
|Latin pronunciation (IPA)||aː||beː||keː||deː||eː||ɛf||ɡeː||haː||iː||kaː||ɛl||ɛm||ɛn||oː||peː||kuː||ɛr||ɛs||teː||uː||iks||iː ˈɡraeka||ˈdzeːta|
It was not until the Middle Ages that the letter ⟨ W ⟩ (originally a ligature of two ⟨ V ⟩s) was added to the Latin alphabet, to represent sounds from the Germanic languages which did not exist in medieval Latin, and only after the Renaissance did the convention of treating ⟨ I ⟩ and ⟨ U ⟩ as vowels, and ⟨ J ⟩ and ⟨ V ⟩ as consonants, become established. Prior to that, the former had been merely allographs of the latter.[ citation needed ]
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. Early deviations from the classical forms were the uncial script, a development of the Old Roman cursive, and various so-called minuscule scripts that developed from New Roman cursive, of which the insular script developed by Irish literati & derivations of this, such as Carolingian minuscule were the most influential, introducing the lower case 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 to begin paragraphs and sentences and proper nouns. The rules for capitalization have changed over time, and different languages have varied in their rules for capitalization. Old English, for example, was rarely written with even proper nouns capitalized, whereas 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.
|Uppercase Latin alphabet||A||B||C||D||E||F||G||H||I||J||K||L||M||N||O||P||Q||R||S||T||U||V||W||X||Y||Z|
|Lowercase Latin alphabet||a||b||c||d||e||f||g||h||i||j||k||l||m||n||o||p||q||r||s||t||u||v||w||x||y||z|
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 originated as a doubled V (VV) used to represent the Voiced labial–velar approximant/w/ found in Old English as early as the 7th century. It came into common use in the later 11th century, replacing the letter wynn ⟨Ƿ ƿ⟩, 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 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 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 × 2 (uppercase and lowercase) letters of the English alphabet. Later standards issued by the ISO, for example ISO/IEC 10646 (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.
The Latin alphabet spread, along with Latin, from the Italian Peninsula to the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea with the expansion of the Roman Empire. The eastern half of the Empire, including Greece, Turkey, the Levant, and Egypt, continued to use Greek as a lingua franca, but Latin was widely spoken in the western half, and as the western Romance languages evolved out of Latin, they continued to use and adapt the Latin alphabet.
With the spread of Western Christianity during the Middle Ages, the Latin alphabet was gradually adopted by the peoples of Northern Europe who spoke Celtic languages (displacing the Ogham alphabet) or Germanic languages (displacing earlier Runic alphabets) or Baltic languages, as well as by the speakers of several Uralic languages, most notably Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian.
The Latin script also came into use for writing the West Slavic languages and several South Slavic languages, as the people who spoke them adopted Roman Catholicism. The speakers of East Slavic languages generally adopted Cyrillic along with Orthodox Christianity. The Serbian language 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.
As late as 1500, the Latin script was limited primarily to the languages spoken in Western, Northern, and Central Europe. The Orthodox Christian Slavs of Eastern and Southeastern Europe mostly used Cyrillic, and the Greek alphabet was in use by Greek-speakers around the eastern Mediterranean. The Arabic script was widespread within Islam, both among Arabs and non-Arab nations like the Iranians, Indonesians, Malays, and Turkic peoples. Most of the rest of Asia used a variety of Brahmic alphabets or the Chinese script.
Through European colonization the Latin script has spread to the Americas, Oceania, parts of Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, in forms based on the Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, German and Dutch alphabets.
It is used for many Austronesian languages, including the languages of the Philippines and the Malaysian and Indonesian languages, replacing earlier Arabic and indigenous Brahmic alphabets. Latin letters served as the basis for the forms of the Cherokee syllabary developed by Sequoyah; however, the sound values are completely different.[ citation needed ]
Under Portuguese missionary influence, a Latin alphabet was devised for the Vietnamese language, which had previously used Chinese characters. The Latin-based alphabet replaced the Chinese characters in administration in the 19th century with French rule.
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 is a Romance language. The Romanians were predominantly Orthodox Christians, and their Church, increasingly influenced by Russia after the fall of Byzantine Greek Constantinople in 1453 and capture of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, had begun promoting the Slavic Cyrillic.
In 1928, as part of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's reforms, the new Republic of Turkey adopted a Latin alphabet for the Turkish language, replacing a modified Arabic alphabet. Most of the Turkic-speaking peoples of the former USSR, including Tatars, Bashkirs, Azeri, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and others, used the Latin-based Uniform Turkic alphabet in the 1930s; but, in the 1940s, all were replaced by Cyrillic. In 2017 Kazakhstan adopted the Latin script as their second official script replacing Cyrillic by 2025.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, three of the newly independent Turkic-speaking republics, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan as well as Romanian-speaking Moldova, officially adopted Latin alphabets for their languages. Kyrgyzstan, 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 Kurdish government uses an Arabic alphabet for public documents, the Latin Kurdish alphabet remains widely used throughout the region by the majority of Kurdish-speakers.
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 Latin alphabet would replace the 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.
In October 2019, the organization 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.
In July 2020, 2.6 billion people (36% of the world population) use the Latin alphabet.
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 × 2 (uppercase and lowercase) letters of the English alphabet. Later standards issued by the ISO, for example ISO/IEC 10646 (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.
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 letters, by joining multiple letters together to make 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 alphabetical order or collation sequence, which can vary with the particular language.
Some examples of new letters to the standard Latin alphabet are the Runic letters wynn ⟨Ƿ ƿ⟩ and thorn ⟨Þ þ⟩, and the letter eth ⟨Ð/ð⟩, which were added to the alphabet of Old English. Another Irish letter, the insular g, developed into yogh ⟨Ȝ ȝ⟩, used in Middle English. Wynn was later replaced with the new letter ⟨w⟩, eth and thorn with ⟨ th ⟩, and yogh with ⟨ gh ⟩. Although the four are no longer part of the English or Irish alphabets, eth and thorn are still used in the modern Icelandic and Faroese alphabets.
Some West, Central and Southern African languages use a few additional letters that have a similar sound value to their equivalents in the IPA. For example, Adangme uses the letters ⟨Ɛ ɛ⟩ and ⟨Ɔ ɔ⟩, and Ga uses ⟨Ɛ ɛ⟩, ⟨Ŋ ŋ⟩ and ⟨Ɔ ɔ⟩. Hausa uses ⟨Ɓ ɓ⟩ and ⟨Ɗ ɗ⟩ for implosives, and ⟨Ƙ ƙ⟩ for an ejective. Africanists have standardized these into the African reference alphabet.
Dotted and dotless I — ⟨İ i⟩ and ⟨I ı⟩ — are two forms of the letter I used by the Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Kazakh alphabets. The Azerbaijani language also has ⟨Ə ə⟩, which represents the near-open front unrounded vowel.
A 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 ⟨ ch ⟩, ⟨ ng ⟩, ⟨ rh ⟩, ⟨ sh ⟩, ⟨ ph ⟩, ⟨ Th ⟩ in English, and ⟨ ij ⟩, ⟨ee⟩, ⟨ ch ⟩ and ⟨ei⟩ in Dutch. In Dutch the ⟨ij⟩ is capitalized as ⟨IJ⟩ or the ligature ⟨Ĳ⟩, but never as ⟨Ij⟩, and it often takes the appearance of a ligature ⟨ĳ⟩ very similar to the letter ⟨ÿ⟩ in handwriting.
A trigraph is made up of three letters, like the German ⟨ sch ⟩, the Breton ⟨ c'h ⟩ or the Milanese ⟨oeu⟩. In the 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 titlecase, where letters after the digraph or trigraph are left in lowercase).
A ligature is a fusion of two or more ordinary letters into a new glyph or character. Examples are ⟨ Æ æ⟩ (from ⟨AE⟩, called "ash"), ⟨ Œ œ⟩ (from ⟨OE⟩, sometimes called "oethel"), the abbreviation ⟨ & ⟩ (from Latin : et, lit. 'and', called "ampersand"), and ⟨ ẞ ß ⟩ (from ⟨ſʒ⟩ or ⟨ſs⟩, the archaic medial form of ⟨s⟩, followed by an ⟨ ʒ ⟩ or ⟨s⟩, called "sharp S" or "eszett").
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 sign used in the German characters ⟨ ä ⟩, ⟨ ö ⟩, ⟨ ü ⟩ or the Romanian characters ă, â, î, ș, 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 homographs (such as the Dutch words een (pronounced [ən] ) meaning "a" or "an", and één , (pronounced [e:n]) meaning "one"). As with letters, the value of diacritics is language-dependent.
English is the only major modern European language requiring no diacritics for native words (although a diaeresis may be used in words such as "coöperation").
Some modified letters, such as the symbols ⟨ å ⟩, ⟨ ä ⟩, and ⟨ ö ⟩, 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. In other cases, such as with ⟨ ä ⟩, ⟨ ö ⟩, ⟨ ü ⟩ 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 ⟨ ñ ⟩ is considered a letter, and sorted between ⟨ n ⟩ and ⟨ o ⟩ in dictionaries, but the accented vowels ⟨ á ⟩, ⟨ é ⟩, ⟨ í ⟩, ⟨ ó ⟩, ⟨ ú ⟩ are not separated from the unaccented vowels ⟨ a ⟩, ⟨ e ⟩, ⟨ i ⟩, ⟨ o ⟩, ⟨ u ⟩.
The languages that use the Latin script today generally use capital letters to begin paragraphs and sentences and proper nouns. The rules for capitalization have changed over time, and different languages have varied in their rules for capitalization. Old English, for example, was rarely written with even proper nouns capitalized; whereas Modern English of the 18th century had frequently all nouns capitalized, in the same way that Modern German is written today, e.g. German : Alle Schwestern der alten Stadt hatten die Vögel gesehen, lit. 'All of the sisters of the old city had seen the birds'.
Words from languages natively written with other scripts, such as Arabic or Chinese, are usually transliterated or transcribed when embedded in Latin-script text or in 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 7-bit ASCII code is available on older systems. However, with the introduction of 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.
An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols or graphemes that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character represents a syllable, for instance, and logographic systems use characters to represent words, morphemes, or other semantic units.
A diacritic is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek διακριτικός, from διακρίνω. Diacritic is primarily an adjective, though sometimes used as a noun, whereas diacritical is only ever an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute ( ´ ) and grave ( ` ), are often called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.
A macron is a diacritical mark: it is a straight bar (¯) placed above a letter, usually a vowel. Its name derives from Ancient Greek μακρόν (makrón) "long", since it was originally used to mark long or heavy syllables in Greco-Roman metrics. It now more often marks a long vowel. In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the macron is used to indicate a mid-tone; the sign for a long vowel is instead a modified triangular colon ⟨ː⟩.
The double acute accent is a diacritic mark of the Latin and Cyrillic scripts. It is used primarily in written Hungarian, and consequently is sometimes referred to by typographers as hungarumlaut. The signs formed with a regular umlaut are letters in their own right in the Hungarian alphabet—for instance, they are separate letters for the purpose of collation. Letters with the double acute, however, are considered variants of their equivalents with the umlaut, being thought of as having both an umlaut and an acute accent.
Alphabetical order is a system whereby character strings are placed in order based on the position of the characters in the conventional ordering of an alphabet. It is one of the methods of collation. In mathematics, a lexicographical order is the generalization of the alphabetical order to other data types, such as sequences of digits or numbers.
In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more graphemes or letters are joined as a single glyph. An example is the character æ as used in English, in which the letters a and e are joined. The common ampersand (&) developed from a ligature in which the handwritten Latin letters e and t were combined.
A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used in the orthography of a language to write either a single phoneme, or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined.
A trigraph is a group of three characters used to represent a single sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters combined.
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 as well as consonants. In Archaic and early Classical times, the Greek alphabet existed in many local variants, but, by the end of the fourth century BC, the Euclidean alphabet, with twenty-four letters, ordered from alpha to omega, had become standard and it is this version that is still used to write Greek today. These twenty-four letters are: Α α, Β β, Γ γ, Δ δ, Ε ε, Ζ ζ, Η η, Θ θ, Ι ι, Κ κ, Λ λ, Μ μ, Ν ν, Ξ ξ, Ο ο, Π π, Ρ ρ, Σ σ/ς, Τ τ, Υ υ, Φ φ, Χ χ, Ψ ψ, and Ω ω.
Dotted İi and dotless Iı are separate letters in Turkish, Azerbaijani, Kazakh and other Latin alphabets of several Turkic languages. It is also part of the common Turkic Alphabet.
Three alphabets are used to write the Kazakh language: in the Cyrillic, Latin and Arabic scripts. The Cyrillic script is used in Kazakhstan and Mongolia. An October 2017 Presidential Decree in Kazakhstan ordered that the transition from Cyrillic to a Latin script be completed by 2025. The Arabic script is used in parts of China, Iran and Afghanistan.
A letter is a segmental symbol of a phonemic writing system. The inventory of all letters forms the alphabet. Letters broadly correspond to phonemes in the spoken form of the language, although there is rarely a consistent, exact correspondence between letters and phonemes.
The diaeresis and the umlaut are two different homoglyphic diacritical marks. They both consist of two dots ( ¨ ) placed over a letter, usually a vowel. When that letter is an i or a j, the diacritic replaces the tittle: ï.
The Urdu alphabet, is the right-to-left alphabet used for the Urdu language. It is a modification of the Persian alphabet, which is itself a derivative of the Arabic alphabet. The Urdu alphabet has up to 39 or 40 distinct letters with no distinct letter cases and is typically written in the calligraphic Nastaʿlīq script, whereas Arabic is more commonly written in the Naskh style.
In Unicode, a script is a collection of letters and other written signs used to represent textual information in one or more writing systems. Some scripts support one and only one writing system and language, for example, Armenian. Other scripts support many different writing systems; for example, the Latin script supports English, French, German, Italian, Vietnamese, Latin itself, and several other languages. Some languages make use of multiple alternate writing systems, and thus also use several scripts; for example, in Turkish, the Arabic script was used before the 20th century, but transitioned to Latin in the early part of the 20th century. For a list of languages supported by each script see the list of languages by writing system. More or less complementary to scripts are symbols and Unicode control characters.
There are various systems of romanization of the Armenian alphabet.
The ISO basic Latin alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet and consists of two sets of 26 letters, codified in various national and international standards and used widely in international communication. They are the same letters that comprise the English alphabet.
The Armenian alphabet is an alphabetic writing system used to write Armenian. It was developed around 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots, an Armenian linguist and ecclesiastical leader. The system originally had 36 letters; eventually, three more were adopted. The alphabet was also in wide use in the Ottoman Empire around the 18th and 19th centuries. The Armenian word for "alphabet" is այբուբեն, named after the first two letters of the Armenian alphabet: ⟨Ա⟩ Armenian: այբ ayb and ⟨Բ⟩ Armenian: բեն ben. Armenian is written horizontally, left-to-right.
A Latin-script alphabet is an alphabet that uses letters of the Latin script. The 21-letter archaic Latin alphabet and the 23-letter classical Latin alphabet belong to the oldest of this group.
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