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The Latin Language Landscape
Latin is an Italic language, historically spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. Through Roman conquest, Latin spread throughout the Mediterranean and a large part of Europe. It later evolved into such languages as French, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan. It was also the international language of science and scholarship in central and western Europe until the 17th century. There are two varieties of Latin: Classical Latin, the literary dialect used in poetry and prose, and Vulgar Latin, the form of the language spoken by ordinary people, which later diverged into the various Romance languages. After the rise of the Catholic Church, Medieval Latin, the ecclesiastical language of the Catholic Church, became the lingua franca of educated classes in the West.
Vulgar Latin was preserved as a spoken language in much of Europe after the decline of the Roman Empire, and by the 9th century diverged into the various Romance languages. Around the 16th century, the popularity of Medieval Latin began to decline.
Classical Latin lives on in the form of Ecclesiastical Latin used for edicts and papal bulls issued by the Catholic Church. Much Latin vocabulary is 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, Spanish and French alphabets, is the most widely used alphabet in the world.
Source: Wikipedia – Content available under GNU Free Documentation License Related Article: The Global Language Landscape – Languages in Use on the Internet
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