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Latin alphabet

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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.

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