The Roman or Latin alphabet is the alphabet used to write many modern-day languages. It is the most used alphabet and writing system in the world today. It is the official script for nearly all the languages of Western Europe, and of some Eastern Europe languages. It is also used by some non-European languages such as Turkish, Vietnamese, Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Indonesia, Swahili, and Tagalog. It is an alternative writing system for languages such as Hindi, Urdu, and Somali.
The alphabet is a writing system which evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet. It was the Etruscans who first developed it after borrowing the Greek alphabet, and the Romans developed it further. The sounds of some letters changed, some letters were lost and gained, and several writing styles ('hands') developed. Two such styles were combined into one script with upper and lower case letters ('capitals' and 'small letters'). Modern capital letters differ only slightly from their Roman counterparts. There are few regional variations.
Letters of the alphabet
Original Latin alphabet
|Latin name of letter:||ā||bē||kē||dē||ē||ef||gē||hā||ī||kā||el||em||en||ō||pē||qū||er||es||tē||ū||ex||ī Graeca||zēta|
|Latin name (IPA):||[aː]||[beː]||[keː]||[deː]||[eː]||[ɛf]||[geː]||[haː]||[iː]||[kaː]||[ɛl]||[ɛm]||[ɛn]||[oː]||[peː]||[kuː]||[ɛr]||[ɛs]||[teː]||[uː]||[ɛks]||[iː 'graɪka]||['zeːta]|
The modern version of the alphabet is used for writing many languages. Indo-European languages, especially those of Western Europe, are mostly written with the Latin alphabet. These languages include the Germanic languages (which includes English, German, Swedish, and others) and the Romance languages (which includes French, Spanish, Italian, and others). There are of course Indo-European languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, like Greek and Russian, as well as non-Indo-European languages that do, like Vietnamese.
Nearly all languages using the Roman alphabet include diacritics, which are symbols found above or below the letters, for things such as tones (English is the only major language that does not have any of these marks, at least not for native words). The basic alphabet uses the following letters:
Some languages have different characters based on this alphabet. A few are: ă, â, á, é, í, î, ó, ẹ, ị, ọ, ụ, ã, ả, ẻ, ỉ, ỏ, ủ, ñ, č, ď, ě, í, ň, ř, š, ș, ť, ț, ú, ů, ž and đ. Some languages that use these characters are Esperanto, Czech, Polish, Romanian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Igbo.
Many languages changed their writing systems to the Latin alphabet. In many countries, European settlers have made native people use it. When the Soviet Union broke up, some of its smaller languages began using the Latin alphabet. After World War II, many Turkic language countries changed their original alphabets (Arab, Persian or Cyrillic) to Latin. The Latin Alphabet in Turkish countries started to be used by Kemal Atatürk in Turkey. It is now used in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan.
Images for kids
Jeton from Nuremberg, ca. 1553
Roman alphabet Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.