The influences and origins of the Latin alphabet

The influences and origins of the Latin alphabet

The advantage of Latin is not having to  learn a new alphabet . Even so … The Roman letters were all the same as ours (some were missing), but they were not pronounced in the same way, as we have commented before.

What is the origin of the Latin alphabet?

You have to go back almost four centuries before Christ to observe the first traces of a writing, that of the Sumerians. They used a  cuneiform alphabet  that was taken over by the Egyptians for the creation of the hieroglyphs. Do you think it has nothing to do with our alphabet? You are right! The first scripts created in Mesopotamia led to the  invention of the first alphabet .

But first, a century before Christ, the Phoenicians transform cuneiform writing into an adapted writing that only signals consonant sounds. It is an  abjad  that spans the Mediterranean and that will allow the Greeks to create the  first real alphabet  based on consonants and vowels in 850 BC.

The Etruscans adapt the Greek alphabet to create the  Etruscan alphabet , which the Romans will use to write in Latin. This is the way to our alphabet!

The Roman writing system had only 20 letters in its archaic version, so the Roman alphabet looked like this:

A, B, C, D, E, F, H, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V, X.

V was also pronounced like U or W, so it served as a consonant and vowel at the same time, just like J, which was also pronounced like I. It was not until the Middle Ages when these letters were added to facilitate understanding sentences. The G, Y, and Z were taken from the Greeks in the 3rd century.

On the other hand, the  Latin numbering system  also comes from that of the Etruscans:

  • I: one,
  • V: five,
  • X: ten,
  • L: fifty,
  • C: one hundred,
  • D: five hundred,
  • M: thousand.

Today, Arabic numerals have been widely adopted and Roman numerals are only used to designate kings, centuries, or parts of a work.

Ovid’s mother tongue was spoken in ancient Rome and spread to Hispania to make way for Castilian Spanish. But Latin gave rise to many other languages, such as Italian, French, Portuguese or dialects such as Catalan and Galician. The Tuscan, Romanian or Romansh dialect also have roots in Latin.

Evolution of Latin
Today, Latin is only spoken in the Vatican. The influences and origins of the Latin alphabet

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