lingua Latina
Pronunciation Template:IPA-la
Spoken in

Roman Monarchy, Roman Republic, Roman Empire, Medieval and Early modern Europe, Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (as lingua franca),

Template:Country data VAT Vatican City
Language family
Official status
Official language in Template:Country data Holy See
Regulated by In antiquity, Roman schools of grammar and rhetoric.[1] Today, Opus Fundatum Latinitas.[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-1 la
ISO 639-2 lat
ISO 639-3 lat
Linguist List Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
  Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
  Template:Infobox language/linguistlist
Linguasphere 51-AAB-a
Greatest extent of the Roman Empire. Latin was by no means confined to these regions, and Koine Greek, Coptic, Syriac, and other native languages dominated the eastern half.|300px]]

Latin (English pronunciation: /ˈlætɪn/; lingua latīna, Template:IPA-la) is an Italic language[3] originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the Ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and many schools and universities continue to teach it.[4] Latin is still used in the process of new word production in modern languages of many different families, including English. Latin and its daughter Romance languages are the only surviving branch of the Italic language family. Other branches, known as Italic languages, are attested in documents surviving from early Italy, but were assimilated during the Roman Republic. The one possible exception is the language of the Veneti, who may have spoken Venetic in conjunction with Latin in early Roman times.(Citation needed)

The extensive use of elements from vernacular speech by the earliest authors and inscriptions of the Roman Republic make it clear that the original, unwritten language of the Roman Monarchy was an only partially deducible colloquial form, the predecessor to Vulgar Latin. By the late Roman Republic, a standard, literate form had arisen from the speech of the educated, now referred to as Classical Latin. Vulgar Latin, by contrast, was the constantly changing everyday parlance spoken throughout the empire.[5] With the Roman conquest, Latin spread to many Mediterranean regions, and the dialects spoken in these areas, mixed to various degrees with the autochthonous languages, developed into the Romance tongues, including Aragonese, Catalan, Corsican, French, Galician, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansh, Sardinian, Sicilian, and Spanish.[6] Classical Latin slowly changed with the Decline of the Roman Empire, as education and wealth became ever scarcer. The consequent Medieval Latin, influenced by various Germanic and proto-Romance languages until expurgated by Renaissance scholars, was used as the language of international communication, scholarship and science until well into the 18th century, when it began to be supplanted by vernacular languages.

Latin is a highly inflected language, with three distinct genders, seven noun cases, four verb conjugations, six tenses, six persons, three moods, two voices, two aspects and two numbers. A dual number is present in Archaic Latin. One of the rarer of the seven cases is the locative, only used with nouns that signify a location. The vocative, used in direct discourse, is identical to the nominative except for words of the second declension. Though various authors have proposed differing totals, there are only five fully productive cases. Adjectives and adverbs are compared, and the former are inflected according to case, gender, and number. Although Classical Latin has demonstrative pronouns indicating varying degree of proximity, it lacks articles. Later Romance language articles developed from the demonstrative pronouns; e.g., le and la from ille and illa. Most Romance articles ultimately trace their origins to a Latin demonstrative; e.g., uninflected Italian oggi, "today", from Latin hoc die, hodie, "on this day".

In terms of vocabulary, however, Latin tends to preserve the original forms of many Indo-European roots. Compared to other Indo-European languages of antiquity, such as Sanskrit and Ancient Greek, the word forms in the Classical era are far more reflective of their etyma. Languages such as Sanskrit, however, tend to be more conservative with regards to grammar.


Latin's heritage has been passed down through these broad genres:

  • Inscriptions
  • Literature
  • Scientific and legal terms in modern languages
  • A centuries-long tradition of Classical education


Most inscriptions have been published in an internationally agreed-upon, monumental, multi-volume series termed the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL). Authors and publishers vary but the format is approximately the same: volumes detailing inscriptions with a critical apparatus stating the provenance and relevant information. The reading and interpretation of these inscriptions is the subject matter of the field of epigraphy. There are approximately 270,000 known inscriptions.


The works of several hundred ancient authors who wrote in Latin have survived in whole or in part, in substantial works or in fragments to be analyzed in philology. They are in part the subject matter of the field of classics. Their works were published in manuscript form before the invention of printing and now exist in carefully annotated printed editions such as the Loeb Classical Library by Harvard University Press or the Oxford Classical Texts by Oxford University Press.

Influence on EnglishEdit

Main article: Latin influence in English

In the medieval period, much borrowing from Latin occurred through ecclesiastical usage established by Saint Augustine of Canterbury in the 6th century, or indirectly after the Norman Conquest through the Anglo-Norman language. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, English writers cobbled together huge numbers of new words from Latin and Greek words. These were dubbed "inkhorn terms", as if they had spilled from a pot of ink. Many of these words were used once by the author and then forgotten, but some which proved useful survived, such as imbibe and extrapolate. Many of the most common polysyllabic English words are of Latin origin, through the medium of Old French.

Classical educationEdit

Main article: Instruction in Latin
File:Latin dictionary.jpg

Throughout European history, an education in the Classics (Latin and Ancient Greek )was considered a must for those who wished to join literate circles. In today's world, a great deal of Latin students learn from Wheelock's Latin: The Classic Introductory Latin Course, Based on Ancient Authors. This book, first published in 1956,[7] was written by Frederic M. Wheelock, who received a Ph.D. from Harvard University . Wheelock's Latin has become the standard text for many introductory Latin courses.

Formal support for the study of LatinEdit

The Living Latin movement attempts to teach Latin in the same way that living languages are taught, i.e., as a means of both spoken and written communication. It is available at the Vatican, and at some institutions in the U.S., such as the University of Kentucky and Iowa State University. The British Cambridge University Press is a major supplier of Latin textbooks for all levels, such as the Cambridge Latin Course series. It has also published a subseries of children's texts in Latin by Bell & Forte, which recount the adventures of a mouse called Minimus.

In the United Kingdom, the Classical Association encourages the study of antiquity through various means, such as publications and grants. In the United States and Canada, the American Classical League supports every effort to further the study of classics. Its subsidiaries include: the National Junior Classical League (with more than 50,000 members), which encourages high school students to pursue the study of Latin, and the National Senior Classical League, which encourages students to continue their study of the classics into college. The league also sponsors the National Latin Exam.

Latin is taught as a mandatory subject in gymnasium and other so-called classical high schools, located chiefly in Europe. In the United States, although once offered nearly universally, Latin is limited to elective status in a steadily declining number of grade schools, both public and private. The ordinary student can no longer count on being able to take Latin, but there are, however, extracurricular means. The College Board examinations, which serve as an educational tool for the admission of students into colleges, still features one Latin examination on a voluntary basis: Advanced Placement Latin: Vergil.

Latin translations of modern literatureEdit

Latin translations of modern literature such as Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, Tintin, Asterix, Harry Potter, Walter the Farting Dog, Le Petit Prince, Max und Moritz, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Cat in the Hat and a book of fairy tales, "fabulae mirabiles", are intended to garner popular interest in the language. Additional resources include phrasebooks and resources for rendering everyday phrases and concepts into Latin, such as Meissner's Latin Phrasebook.

Constructed languages based on LatinEdit

Many international auxiliary languages have been heavily influenced by Latin. Interlingua, which lays claim to a sizeable following, is sometimes considered a simplified, modern version of the language. Latino sine Flexione, popular in the early 20th century, is Latin with its inflections stripped away, among other grammatical changes.


Main article: History of Latin

Latin has been divided into historical phases, each of which is distinguished by subtle differences in vocabulary, usage, spelling, morphology and syntax. In addition to the historical phases, Ecclesiastical Latin refers to the styles used by the writers of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as Protestant scholars, from Late Antiquity onward.

Archaic LatinEdit

Main article: Archaic Latin

The earliest known form is Archaic Latin, which was spoken from ancient times up to the middle Republican period, and attested in several inscriptions, as well as some of the earliest extant literary works. During this period, the Latin alphabet was first introduced by Rome's Etruscan rulers. The writing style later changed from an initial right-to-left or boustrophedon[8] to a left-to-right script.[9] Archaic Latin is attested through thousands of inscriptions from the Roman Republic, and through the writings of early authors such as Plautus, whose comedies are the earliest substantial works written in Latin.

Classical LatinEdit

Main article: Classical Latin

During the late republic and into the first years of the empire, a new Classical Latin arose, a conscious creation of the orators, poets, historians and other literate men, who wrote the great works of classical literature, which were taught in grammar and rhetoric schools. Today's instructional grammars trace their roots to these schools, which served as a sort of informal language academy dedicated to maintaining and perpetuating educated speech.[10][11]

Vulgar LatinEdit

Main article: Vulgar Latin

Philological analysis of Archaic Latin works, such as Plautus', which contain snippets of everyday speech, indicates that a spoken language, which has from ancient times been called Vulgar Latin (sermo vulgi by Cicero), the language of the vulgus or "commoner", existed alongside the literate Classical Latin. Since this language, by virtue of its informality, was rarely written, philologists have been left with individual words and phrases cited by Classical authors, as well as those found as graffiti.[12]

As vernacular Latin was free to develop on its own, there is no reason to expect that the speech was uniform either diachronically or geographically. Just the opposite must have been true, as Romanized European populations developed their own dialects of the language.[13] This is the situation that prevailed when the Migration Period, ca. 300-700 AD, brought an end to the unity of the Roman world and removed the stabilizing influence of its institutions upon the language. A post-classical phase of Latin appeared, Late Latin, which was far more influenced by the everyday parlance.

One of the tests as to whether a given Latin feature or usage was in the spoken language is to compare its reflex in a Romance language with the equivalent formation in classical Latin. If it appeared in the Romance language but was not preferred in classical Latin, then it is most likely vulgar Latin. For example, the noun-case system is present in classical Latin, but not in the Romance languages, apart from remnants in Romanian. One might conclude that case endings throughout most of the Roman world were already vanishing in the spoken language, even while their use continued in literate circles. In addition, much Romance vocabulary arose in vulgar Latin, rather than classical. The following examples adhere to this formula: classical Latin/vulgar Latin/Italian/French/Spanish: ignis/focus/fuoco/feu/fuego, equus/caballus/cavallo/cheval/caballo, loqui/parabolare/parlare/parler/hablar (from fabulari).[14] In each case, Italian, French, and Spanish use terms that are derived from vulgar Latin (although classical equa gave rise to Spanish yegua, both meaning "mare"). Thus, we can deduce the everyday vocabulary of late Roman times.

The expansion of the Roman Empire spread Latin throughout Europe and N. Africa. Vulgar Latin already begun to diverge into distinct languages by the 9th century at the very latest, when the earliest extant Romance writings begin to appear. They were, throughout the Dark Ages, confined to everyday speech, as medieval Latin was used for writing.

Medieval LatinEdit

Main article: Medieval Latin

The term Medieval Latin refers to the written Latin in use during that portion of the post-classical period when no corresponding Latin vernacular existed. The spoken language had developed into the various incipient Romance Languages; however, in the educated and official world Latin continued without its natural spoken base. Moreover, this Latin spread into lands that had never spoken Latin, such as the Germanic and Slavic nations. It became useful as a means of international communication between the member states of the Holy Roman Empire and its allies.

Cut loose from its corrective spoken base and severed from the vanished institutions of the Roman empire that had supported its uniformity, medieval Latin lost its linguistic cohesion; for example, suus ("his/her own"), sui ("his/her own") and eius ("his/her") are used almost interchangeably, a confusion not resolved until the Renaissance, in works such as the tract of Lorenzo Valla, De reciprocatione suus et sui. In classical Latin sum and eram are used as auxiliary verbs in the perfect and pluperfect passive, which are compound tenses. Medieval Latin might use fui and fueram instead.[15] Furthermore the meanings of many words have been changed and new vocabulary has been introduced from the vernacular.

While these minor changes are not enough to impair comprehension of the language, they introduce a certain flexibility not in it previously. The style of each individual author is characterized by his own uses of classically incorrect Latin to such a degree that one can identify him just by reading his Latin. In that sense medieval Latin is a collection of individual idioms united loosely by the main structures of the language. Some are more classical, others less so.[15] The majority of these writers were influential members of the Christian church: bishops, monks, philosophers, etc.; however, the term "Ecclesiastical Latin" does not accurately apply. There was no uniform language of the church. Late Latin is sometimes classified as medieval, sometimes not. Certainly many of the individual Latins were influenced by the vernaculars of their authors.

Renaissance LatinEdit

Main article: Renaissance Latin

The Renaissance briefly reinforced the position of Latin as a spoken language, through its adoption by the Renaissance Humanists. Often led by members of the clergy, they were shocked by the accelerated dismantling of the vestiges of the classical world and the rapid loss of its literature. They strove to preserve what they could. It was they who introduced the practice of producing revised editions of the literary works that remained by comparing surviving manuscripts, and they who attempted to restore Latin to what it had been. They corrected medieval Latin out of existence no later than the 15th century and replaced it with more formally correct versions supported by the scholars of the rising universities, who attempted, through scholarship, to discover what the classical language had been.


Main article: Latin spelling and pronunciation

Pronunciation of Latin by the Romans in ancient times has been reconstructed from a variety of data, such as the evolution of features of the Romance languages, the representation of Latin words in other languages, such as Greek, the metrical patterns of Latin poetry, and more.[16] The table below lists the consonant phonemes of Classical Latin.

  Labial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
plain labial
Plosive voiced b d ɡ  
voiceless p t   k
Fricative voiced   z
voiceless f s h
Nasal m n   ŋ    
Rhotic r      
Approximant   l ɫ j w

Latin spelling seems to have been largely phonemic, with each letter corresponding to a specific phoneme in the language, save for some exceptions. In particular, all vowels varied in pronunciation depending upon their vowel length, the letter "n" represented either a dental nasal or a velar nasal, and the letters "i" and "u" represented either consonants or vowels depending on context. Although Classical Latin did not have a distinction between either "i" and "j" or "u" or "v," in later publications, "i" and "u" can represent solely the vowel form while "j" and "v" solely the consonant form.

Most of the letters are pronounced the same as in English, but note the following:

  • c = /k/ (never as in nice)
  • g = /ɡ/ (never as in germ)
  • j (consonantal i) = /j/ (like English y in you) The "i" is pronounced as a consonant if in the beginning of word before a vowel or between two vowels.
  • n = /n/ or /ŋ/ If "n" occurs before "c", "g" or "x" or directly after a "g,"[17] it is pronounced /ŋ/ ("ng" as in "sing"). Otherwise, it is pronounced /n/[18]
  • t = /t/ (never as in English nation)
  • v (consonantal u) = /w/ The "u" is pronounced as a consonant also if beginning a word and before a vowel or if placed between two vowels.
  • x = /ks/
  • a = /a/ when short and /aː/ when long.
  • e = /ɛ/ (as in pet) when short and /eː/ (somewhat as in English they) when long.
  • i = /ɪ/ (as in pin) when short and /iː/ (as in machine) when long
  • o = /ɔ/ (as in British English law) when short and /oː/ (somewhat as in holy) when long.
  • u = /ʊ/ (as in put) when short and /uː/ (as in true) when long.

A vowel followed by an m or n (later in the life of Latin, and maintained later by French and Portuguese), either at the end of a word or before another consonant, is nasal, as in monstrum /mõstrũ/.[17]


Main article: Latin alphabet
File:Duenos inscription.jpg

Latin was written using the Latin Alphabet, derived from the Old Italic alphabet, in turn drawn from the Greek and ultimately the Phoenician alphabet.[19] This alphabet has continued to be used throughout centuries as the script for the Romance, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Finnic, and some Slavic languages (Croatian and Czech, for example), as well as for others as Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Niger-Congo languages.

The Latin alphabet has varied in number of letters. When it was first adopted from the Etruscan alphabet, it contained only 21.[20] Later, “G”, representing /ɡ/, formerly included under “C”, was innovated to replace “Z”, which was non-functional, as the language had no voiced alveolar fricative at the time.[21] The letters “Y” and “Z” were later added to represent the Greek Upsilon and Zeta respectively in Greek loanwords.[21] “W” was created in the 11th century from VV. It represented /w/ in Germanic languages, not in Latin, which still uses “V” for the purpose. “J” was distinguished from the original “I” only during the late Middle Ages along with the letter “U” from “V”.[21] Although some dictionaries use “J” it is for the most part eschewed for Latin text as non-original, although other languages use it.

Classical Latin did not contain punctuation, macrons (although apices were used to distinguish length in vowels), lowercase letters,[22] or interword spacing (but the interpunct was used at times in Latin’s history). So, a sentence originally written as:


would be rendered in a modern edition as

Lugete, O Veneres Cupidinesque

or with macrons

Lūgēte, Ō Venerēs Cupīdinēsque.

and translated as

Mourn, O Venuses and Cupids

The Roman cursive script is commonly found on the many wax tablets excavated at sites such as forts, an especially extensive set having been discovered at Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall in Britain. Curiously enough, most of the Vindolanda tablets show spaces between words, though spaces were avoided in monumental inscriptions from that era.


Main article: Latin grammar

Latin is a synthetic, fusional language: affixes (often suffixes, which usually encode more than one grammatical category) are attached to fixed stems to express gender, number, and case in adjectives, nouns, and pronouns—a process called declension. Affixes are attached to fixed stems of verbs, as well, to denote person, number, tense, voice, mood, and aspect—a process called conjugation.


Main article: Latin declension

There are seven Latin noun cases. These mark a noun's syntactic role in the sentence, so word order is not as important in Latin as it is in some other languages, such as English. Words can typically be moved around in a sentence without significantly altering its meaning, although the emphasis may have been altered.

  1. Nominative: used when the noun is the subject or a predicate nominative. The thing or person acting; e.g., the girl ran: puella cucurrit, or cucurrit puella
  2. Vocative: used when the noun is used in a direct address. The vocative form of a noun is the same as the nominative except for second declension nouns ending in -us. The -us becomes an -e or if it ends in -ius (such as filius) then the ending is just -i (fili) (as distinct from the plural nominative (filii)). (e.g., "Master!" shouted the slave. "Domine!" servus clamavit.)
  3. Accusative: used when the noun is the direct object of the sentence/phrase, with certain prepositions, or as the subject of an infinitive. The thing or person having something done to them. (e.g., The slave woman carries the wine. Ancilla vinum portat.) In addition, there are certain constructions where the accusative can be used for the subject of a clause, one being the indirect statement.
  4. Genitive: used when the noun is the possessor of an object (e.g., "the horse of the man", or "the man's horse"—in both of these instances, the word man would be in the genitive case when translated into Latin). Also indicates material of which something greater is made (e.g., "a group of people"; "a number of gifts"—people and gifts would be in the genitive case). Some nouns are genitive with special verbs and adjectives too. (e.g., The cup is full of wine. Poculum plenum vini est. The master of the slave had beaten him. Dominus servi eum verberaverat.)
  5. Dative: used when the noun is the indirect object of the sentence, with special verbs, with certain prepositions, and if used as agent, reference, or even possessor. (e.g., The merchant hands over the stola to the woman. Mercator feminae stolam tradit.)
  6. Ablative: used when the noun demonstrates separation or movement from a source, cause, agent, or instrument, or when the noun is used as the object of certain prepositions; adverbial. (e.g., You walked with the boy. tu cum puero ambulavisti.)
  7. Locative, used to indicate a location and services (corresponding to the English "in" or "at"). This is far less common than the other six cases of Latin nouns and usually applies to cities, small towns, and islands smaller than the island of Rhodes, but not including Rhodes, along with a few common nouns. In the first and second declension singular, its form coincides with the genitive (Roma becomes Romae, "in Rome"). In the plural, and in the other declensions, it coincides with the dative and ablative (Athenae becomes Athenis, "at Athens").

Latin lacks definite and indefinite articles; thus puer currit can mean either "the boy is running" or "a boy is running."


Main article: Latin conjugation

Verbs in Latin are usually identified by four main conjugations, groups of verbs with similarly inflected forms. The first conjugation is typified by active infinitive forms ending in -āre, the second by active infinitives ending in -ēre, the third by active infinitives ending in -ere, and the fourth by active infinitives ending in -īre. However, there are exceptions to these rules. Further, there is a subset of the 3rd conjugation, the -iō verbs, which behave somewhat like the 4th conjugation. There are six general tenses in Latin (present, imperfect, future, perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect), three grammatical moods (indicative, imperative and subjunctive, in addition to the infinitive, participle, gerund, gerundive and supine), three persons (first, second, and third), two numbers (singular and plural), two voices (active and passive), and a few aspects. Verbs are described by four principal parts:

  1. The first principal part is the first person (or third person for impersonal verbs) singular, present tense, indicative mood, active voice form of the verb (or passive voice for verbs lacking an active voice).
  2. The second principal part is the present infinitive active (or passive for verbs lacking an active) form.
  3. The third principal part is the first person (or third person for impersonal verbs) singular, perfect indicative active (or passive when there is no active) form.
  4. The fourth principal part is the supine form, or alternatively, the nominative singular, perfect passive participle form of the verb. The fourth principal part can show either one gender of the participle, or all three genders (-us for masculine, -a for feminine, and -um for neuter). It can also be the future participle when the verb cannot be made passive. Most modern Latin dictionaries, if only showing one gender, tend to show the masculine; however, many older dictionaries will instead show the neuter. The fourth principal part is sometimes omitted for intransitive verbs, although strictly in Latin these can be made passive if used impersonally.

There are six tenses in the Latin language; these are present, future, future perfect, imperfect, perfect, and pluperfect. The each have a set of endings corresponding to the person and number referred to. The endings assign the verb to these particular person and number to be translated as such even if there is no subject to accompany the verb. For instance, if you wanted to say "he walks in the field" you could (but you wouldn't have to) put in a personal pronoun to justify the pronoun "he" instead, you could write "ambulat," the word meaning to walk in the present tense, third person singular. These six tenses are described in greater detail below.

What follows is the six tenses with their six persons for first and second conjugations in active. This is the more common form. For the imperfect, present, and future tenses, the way in which you reach the finished word is by removing the -re ending from the second principal part of the verb being conjugated and placing at the end of the word the most appropriate ending given. For the other three tenses you do the same, except you remove the -i ending from the third principal part of the word being conjugated.

Tense 1st singular ending 2nd singular ending 3rd singular ending 1st plural ending 2nd plural ending 3rd plural ending
Future Perfect -ero -eris -erit -erimus -eritis -erint
Future -bo -bis -bit -bimus -bitis -bunt
Present -o -s -t -mus -tis -nt
Imperfect -bam -bas -bat -bamus -batis bant
Perfect -i -isti -it -imus -istis -erunt
Pluperfect -eram -eras -erat -eramus -eratis -erant


As Latin is an Italic language, most of its vocabulary is likewise Italic, deriving ultimately from PIE. However, because of close cultural interaction, the Romans not only had adapted the Etruscan alphabet to form the Latin alphabet, but also had borrowed some Etruscan words into their language, including persona (mask) and histrio (actor).[23] Latin also included vocabulary borrowed from Oscan, another Italic language.

After the Fall of Tarentum (272 BC), the Romans began hellenizing, or adopting features of Greek culture, including the borrowing of Greek words, such as camera (vaulted roof), sumbolum (symbol), and balineum (bath).[23] This hellenization led to the addition of “Y” and “Z” to the alphabet to represent these Greek sounds.[24] Subsequently the Romans transplanted Greek art, medicine, science and philosophy to Italy, paying almost any price to entice Greek skilled and educated persons to Rome, and sending their youth to be educated in Greece. Thus, many Latin scientific and philosophical words were Greek loanwords or had their meanings expanded by association with Greek words, as ars (craft) for τέχνη.[25]

Because of the Roman Empire’s expansion and subsequent trade with outlying European tribes, the Romans borrowed some northern and central European words, such as beber (beaver), of Germanic origin, and bracae (breeches), of Celtic origin.[25] The specific dialects of Latin across Latin-speaking regions of the former Roman Empire after its fall were influenced by languages specific to the regions. These spoken Latins evolved into particular Romance languages.

During and after the adoption of Christianity into Roman society, Christian vocabulary became a part of the language, formed either from Greek or Hebrew borrowings, or as Latin neologisms.[26] Continuing into the Middle Ages, Latin incorporated many more words from surrounding languages, including Old English and Germanic languages.

Over the ages Latin-speaking populations produced new adjectives, nouns and verbs by affixing or compounding meaningful segments.[27] For example, the compound adjective, omnipotens, "all-powerful," was produced from the adjectives omnis, "all", and potens, "powerful", by dropping the final s of omnis and concatenating. Often the concatenation changed the part of speech; i.e., nouns were produced from verb segments or verbs from nouns and adjectives.[28]

Modern useEdit

Main article: Contemporary Latin
File:Wallsend platfom 2 02.jpg

Latin lives in the form of Ecclesiastical Latin, used for laws and decrees issued by Hierarchs of the Catholic Church, and in the form of a sparse sprinkling of scientific or social articles written in it, as well as in numerous Latin clubs. Latin vocabulary is used in science, academia, and law. Classical Latin is taught in many 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, French, Portuguese and German alphabets, is the most widely used alphabet in the world. Terminology deriving from Latin words and concepts is widely used, among other fields, in philosophy, medicine, biology, and law, in terms and abbreviations such as subpoena duces tecum, q.i.d. (quater in die: "four times a day"), and inter alia (among other things). These Latin terms are used in isolation, as technical terms. In scientific names for organisms, Latin is typically the language of choice, followed by Greek.

The largest organization that still uses Latin in official and quasi-official contexts is the Catholic Church (particularly in the Latin Rite). The Tridentine Mass uses Latin, although the Mass of Paul VI is usually said in the local vernacular language; however, it can be and often is said in Latin, particularly in the Vatican. Indeed, Latin is still the official standard language of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, and the Second Vatican Council merely authorized that the liturgical books be translated and optionally used in the vernacular languages. Latin is the official language of the Holy See. The Vatican City is also home to the only ATM where instructions are given in Latin.[29]

Some films of relevant ancient settings, such as Sebastiane and The Passion of the Christ, have been made with dialogue in Latin for purposes of realism. Occasionally, Latin dialogue is used because of its association with religion or philosophy, in such film/TV series as the Exorcist and Lost (Jughead). Subtitles are usually employed for the benefit of audiences who do not understand Latin. There are also songs written with Latin lyrics.

File:Council of the EU logo.svg

Many organizations today have Latin mottos, such as "Semper Paratus" (always ready), the motto of the United States Coast Guard, and "Semper Fidelis" (always faithful), the motto of the United States Marine Corps. Several of the states of the United States also have Latin mottos, such as "Montani Semper Liberi" (Mountaineers are always free), the state motto of West Virginia, "Sic semper tyrannis" (Thus always to tyrants), that of Virginia, and "Esse Quam Videri" (To be rather than to seem), that of North Carolina.

Latin grammar has been taught in most Italian schools since the 18th century: for example, in the Liceo classico and Liceo scientifico, Latin is still one of the primary subjects. Latin is taught in many schools and universities around the world as well.

Occasionally, some media outlets broadcast in Latin, which is targeted at the audience of enthusiasts. Notable examples include Radio Bremen in Germany, YLE radio in Finland and Vatican Radio & Television; all of which broadcast news segments and other material in Latin.[30][31][32]

There are many websites and forums maintained in Latin by enthusiasts. The Latin Wikipedia has more than 50,000 articles written in Latin.

See alsoEdit




  • Allen, William Sidney (2004). Vox Latina – a Guide to the Pronunciation of Classical Latin (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521220491. 
  • Bennett, Charles E. (1908). Latin Grammar. Chicago: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 1176197061. 
  • Clark, Victor Selden (1900). Studies in the Latin of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Lancaster: The New Era Printing Company. 
  • Diringer, David (1996) [1947]. The Alphabet – A Key to the History of Mankind. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Private Ltd.. ISBN 81-215-0748-0. 
  • Herman, József; Wright, Roger (Translator) (2000). Vulgar Latin. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0271020008. 
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  2. Opus Fundatum Latinitas is an organ of the Roman Catholic Church, and regulates Latin with respect to its status as official language of the Holy See and for use by Catholic clergy.
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  4. Hu, Winnie (October 6, 2008). "A Dead Language That's Very Much Alive". 
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  25. 25.0 25.1 Holmes & Schultz 1938, p. 14
  26. Template:Cite document
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