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Latin 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.

After 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.

Latin 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: Wikipedia).



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