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Latin
Lingua latina
Native to Latium, Roman Monarchy, Roman Republic, Roman Empire, Medieval and Early modern Europe, Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (as lingua franca), Vatican City
Ethnicity Latins
Era Vulgar Latin developed into Romance languages, 6th to 9th centuries; the formal language continued as the scholarly lingua franca of medieval Western Europe and as the liturgical language of the Roman Catholic Church.
Language family
Indo-European
  • Italic
    • Latino-Faliscan
      • Latin
Writing system Latin
Official status
Official language in Holy See
Language codes
ISO 639-1 la
ISO 639-2 lat
ISO 639-3 lat


Latin is an old language that was spoken by the Romans and others. Latin is a dead language. This means people do not speak or write this language very much any more. However, many students around the world study it in school. Latin is the mother of all Romance languages. This means that all Romance languages were developed from Latin. Speakers of Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese and other Romance languages may understand some Latin words.

Latin is the language of the Vatican. People in the Roman Catholic Church sometimes use Latin for communication (if they have different mother tongues) and sometimes in ceremonies.

Latin is also used by zoologists and botanists to name and describe every new species (type of plant or animal). Plants and animals are usually named in writing related to zoology and botany, by giving a Latin name alongside the name in a modern language. The Latin name is the one that has a precise, agreed definition. Many other words used in science and medicine were created from Latin words, or are Latin words.

There were two types of Latin, Classical Latin and Vulgar Latin. Classical Latin was the kind of Latin used by the educated Romans and is the one used by the Roman Catholic Church and studied by many students around the world. Vulgar Latin was the more common spoken variety used by the Romans.

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