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This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in Latium, in the Italian Peninsula. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language, initially in Italy and subsequently throughout the Roman Empire. Old Latin had been standardised into Classical Latin. Latin is taught in primary, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions around the world. A number of historical phases of the language have been recognised, each distinguished by subtle differences in vocabulary, usage, spelling, morphology, and syntax.
As a result, the list has variants, as well as alternative names. After the Western Roman Empire fell in 476, and Germanic kingdoms took its place, the Germanic people adopted Latin as a language more suitable for legal and other, more formal uses. The earliest known form of Latin is Old Latin, which was spoken from the Roman Kingdom to the later part of the Roman Republic period. It is attested both in inscriptions and in some of the earliest extant Latin literary works, such as the comedies of Plautus and Terence. As it was free to develop on its own, there is no reason to suppose that the speech was uniform either diachronically or geographically. On the contrary, romanised European populations developed their own dialects of the language, which eventually led to the differentiation of Romance languages. One key marker of whether a given Romance feature was found in Vulgar Latin is to compare it with its parallel in Classical Latin.
If it was not preferred in Classical Latin, then it most likely came from the undocumented contemporaneous Vulgar Latin. Vulgar Latin began to diverge into distinct languages by the 9th century at the latest, when the earliest extant Romance writings begin to appear. They were, throughout the period, confined to everyday speech, as Medieval Latin was used for writing. The Latin Malmesbury Bible from 1407.
Medieval Latin is the written Latin in use during that portion of the postclassical period when no corresponding Latin vernacular existed. 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. Without the institutions of the Roman empire that had supported its uniformity, medieval Latin lost its linguistic cohesion: for example, 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. Latin, with the vernacular languages playing only a secondary role. The Renaissance briefly reinforced the position of Latin as a spoken language by 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. During the Early Modern Age, Latin still was the most important language of culture in Europe. Therefore, until the end of the 17th century the majority of books and almost all diplomatic documents were written in Latin.
Afterwards, most diplomatic documents were written in French and later just native or other languages. The signs at Wallsend Metro station are in English and Latin as a tribute to Wallsend’s role as one of the outposts of the Roman Empire. The largest organisation that retains Latin in official and quasi-official contexts is the Catholic Church. Tridentine Mass is celebrated in Latin. Switzerland has adopted the country’s Latin short name Helvetia on coins and stamps, since there is no room to use all of the nation’s four official languages. For a similar reason, it adopted the international vehicle and internet code CH, which stands for Confoederatio Helvetica, the country’s full Latin name.