is an ancient Indo-European language that was
spoken in the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire
and had de facto status as the international language
of mid and western Europe until the 17th century.
It is the base language for the languages spoken
in France, Italy and the Iberian peninsula and
through them to South America. The conquests of
Rome spread the language throughout the Mediterranean
and a large part of Europe. It existed in two
forms: Classical Latin, used in poetry and formal
prose, and Vulgar Latin, spoken by the people.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and
the rise of the Roman Catholic Church Latin became
the ecclesiastical language of the Roman Catholic
Church and the lingua franca of educated classes
in the West.
having lasted 2,200 years, Latin began a slow
decline around the 1600s. But Vulgar Latin was
preserved: it split into several regional dialects,
which by the 800s had become the ancestors of
today's Romance languages. English, though originating
as a Germanic language, derives 60% of its words
from Latin, largely by way of French, but partly
through direct borrowings made especially during
the 1600s in England.
lives on in the form of Ecclesiastical Latin spoken
in the Roman Catholic Church. Latin vocabulary
is also still used in science, academia, and law.
Classical Latin, the literary language of the
late Republic and early Empire, is still taught
in many primary, grammar, and secondary schools,
often combined with Greek in the study of Classics,
though its role has diminished since the early
20th century. The Latin alphabet, together with
its modern variants such as the English and French
alphabets, is the most widely used alphabet in
the world. (Credit: