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Featured Article: Roman alphabet

(CC) Photo: Churl Han
Written English typically uses the Roman alphabet.

The Roman alphabet or Latin alphabet is the most used writing system today, belonging to the category of alphabets, initially designed for transcribing the Latin language (which was spoken by Roman people), then extended to many other languages across the world.

Some anglophone authors make a distinction between Roman alphabet (in a broad sense, comprising the differing variants of this alphabet, designed for different languages) and Latin alphabet (the more specific variant—or variants—of this alphabet used for the Latin language). Such a distinction is not systematic. In the printing and publishing industry, "roman" refers to upright letters as distinct from italic.


The original version of this alphabet was used by the Romans for the Latin language. It is derived from, and very similar to, the Greek alphabet. The Romans adopted the alphabet via the Etruscans, who had adopted it from the Greeks who had colonized Sicily and the southern Italian peninsula. The "West Greek" alphabet was slightly different from the East Greek alphabet which evolved into the modern Greek alphabet, which caused some of the letterform changes. The Etruscans had no sound for [g] (voiced velar stop) in their language, but three different [k]-like sounds (close to a voiceless velar stop), and so adopted the Greek gamma to represent a [k] sound; but the shape of the West Greek gamma was actually similar to Latin C (instead of being similar to East Greek Γ), and eventually the letter morphed into the modern Latin letter 'C'.