This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Latin alphabet

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman inscription
Latin alphabet | Author: Tomasz Podkowa

Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan alphabet and was commonly used by the Romans. The Latin alphabet (also called the Roman alphabet) appeared in the 7th century BCE as a result of the adaptation of the Etruscan alphabet to the Latin language. The Etruscans borrowed their alphabet from Greek settlers in Italy, while the Greek alphabet is derived from the North Semitic alphabet used in Syria and Palestine in the 12th century BCE.

Formerly, it was commonly believed that Latin letters came directly from Greek, indicating the similarity between the Latin alphabet and the Greek variant used in Cumae(southern Italy). In fact, it is unlikely: the names of the letters are apparently from Etruscan rather than Greek (“a”, “be”, etc. and not “alpha”, “beta” etc.), and moreover the common spelling “f” as “fh” is alien to the Etruscan writing system.

Initially, it consisted of 21 characters.

Original set (21 characters) of Latin letters:

A, B, C, D, E, F, Z, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X

Latin alphabet (23 characters) used in ancient Rome:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X, Y, Z

The letter Zwas removed in the 4th century BCE. as redundant (the Latin language does not have this sound) by the censor Appius Claudius Caecus. The letter G, which is a graphical variant of C, was inserted in its place. Until then, the letter C was used to render both the sound / K / and the sounds / G /, while since the reform, Cmeant only the sound / K /. This change also reduces the use of the letter Q, and K is almost completely obsolete.

After the incorporation into the orbis Romanumarea of ​​the Greek-speaking population, many borrowings from this language appeared in Latin. The letters Y and Z were added in the 1st century BCE in order to render Greek words exactly, hence the name I graeca (“Greek I”). Emperor Claudius introduced new letters into the alphabet, but after his death, their use was discontinued.

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

Your financial help is needed, in order to maintain and develop the website. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server. I believe that I can count on a wide support that will allow me to devote myself more to my work and passion, to maximize the improvement of the website and to present history of ancient Romans in an interesting form.

Support IMPERIUM ROMANUM!

News from world of ancient Rome

If you want to be up to date with news and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Roman bookstore

I encourage you to buy interesting books about the history of ancient Rome and antiquity.

Check out bookstore

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: