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For other uses, see Latins and Latin (disambiguation).
"Roman language" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Romance languages, Romanesco dialect, Romanian language, or Romani language.

Latin (Listen/ˈlætɨn/; Latin: lingua latīna, IPA: [ˈlɪŋɡʷa laˈtiːna]) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets.

Latin was originally spoken in Latium, Italy. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the Roman Empire. Vulgar Latin developed into the Romance languages, such as French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Romanian. Latin and French have contributed many words to English. Latin and Greek roots are used in theology, biology, and medicine.

Many students, scholars, and members of the Christian clergy speak Latin fluently. It is taught in primary, secondary, and post-secondary educational institutions around the world.

By the late Roman Republic (75 BC), Old Latin had been standardized into Classical Latin. Vulgar Latin was the colloquial form spoken during the same time and attested in inscriptions and the works of comic playwrights like Plautus and Terence. Late Latin is the written language beginning in the 3rd century AD and Medieval Latin the language used from the ninth century until the Renaissance. It was used as the language of international communication, scholarship, and science until well into the 18th century, when it began to be supplanted by vernaculars. Ecclesiastical Latin remains the official language of the Holy See and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

Latin is a highly inflected language, with three distinct genders, seven noun cases, four verb conjugations, six tenses, three persons, three moods, two voices, two aspects, and two numbers.


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