Roman alphabet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Dark green: Countries using only the Latin alphabet
Light green Countries with more than one alphabet officially
The Duenos inscription from the 6th century BC. It shows the earliest known Old Latin alphabet

The Roman or Latin alphabet is the alphabet used to write many modern-day languages. It is the most used alphabet and writing system in the world today. It is the official script for nearly all the languages of Western Europe, and of some Eastern Europe languages. It is also used by some non-European languages such as Turkish, Vietnamese, Malay language, Swahili, and Tagalog. It is an alternative writing system for languages such as Hindi, Urdu, and Somali.

The alphabet is a writing system which evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet. It was the Etruscans who first developed it after borrowing the Greek alphabet, and the Romans developed it further. The sounds of some letters changed, some letters were lost and gained, and several writing styles ('hands') developed. Two such styles were combined into one script with upper and lower case letters ('capitals' and 'small letters'). Modern capital letters differ only slightly from their Roman counterparts. There are few regional variations.

Letters of the alphabet[change | change source]

Original Latin alphabet[change | change source]

The Latin alphabet used by the Romans:

Symbol A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z
Latin name of letter: ā ē ef ī el em en ō er es ū ex ī Graeca zēta
Latin name (IPA): [aː] [beː] [keː] [deː] [eː] [ɛf] [geː] [haː] [iː] [kaː] [ɛl] [ɛm] [ɛn] [oː] [peː] [kuː] [ɛr] [ɛs] [teː] [uː] [ɛks] [iː 'graɪka] ['zeːta]

New alphabet[change | change source]

The modern version of the alphabet is used for writing many languages. Indo-European languages, especially those of Western Europe, are mostly written with the Latin alphabet. These languages include the Germanic languages (which includes English, German, Swedish, and others) and the Romance languages (which includes French, Spanish, Italian, and others). There are of course Indo-European languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, like Greek and Russian, as well as non-Indo-European languages that do, like Vietnamese.

Nearly all languages using the Roman alphabet include diacritics, which are symbols found above or below the letters, for things such as tones (English is the only major language that does not have any of these marks, at least not for native words). The basic alphabet uses the following letters:

Uppercase 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 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

Other versions[change | change source]

Sign in Portuguese, which uses ç

Some languages have different characters based on this alphabet. A few are: ă, â, á, é, í, î, ó, ẹ, ị, ọ, ụ, ã, ả, ẻ, ỉ, ỏ, ủ, ñ, č, ď, ě, í, ň, ř, š, ș, ť, ț, ú, ů, ž and đ. Some languages that use these characters are Esperanto, Czech, Polish, Romanian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Igbo.

Many languages changed their writing systems to the Latin alphabet. In many countries, European settlers have made native people use it. When the Soviet Union broke up, some of its smaller languages began using the Latin alphabet. After World War II, many Turkic language countries changed their original alphabets (Arab, Persian or Cyrillic) to Latin. The Latin Alphabet in Turkish countries started to be used by Kemal Atatürk in Turkey. It is now used in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan.

Writing a language in Roman letters is called Romanization. Many people who do not speak the language read a romanized version to know roughly how the words will sound, even if that is not the normal way to write the language.

Other websites[change | change source]