Latin writing system

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Latin writing system
Font Alphabet font
languages see list
Usage time since approx. 700 BC Chr.
ancestry Phoenician script
 →  Greek alphabet
  →  Etruscan script
   →  Latin alphabet
    →  Latin writing system
relative Cyrillic alphabet
Coptic script
Armenian alphabet
Unicode block U + 0000 – U + 02AF
U + 1E00 – U + 1EFF
U + 2C60 – U + 2C7F
U + A720 – U + A7FF
U + AB30 – U + AB6F
ISO 15924 Latin, 215

The Latin writing system is an alphabetical writing system . It is based on the Latin alphabet , which has included 26 letters since the end of its development during the Renaissance .

The Latin writing system is used in most Romance , Germanic , Slavic, and Finno-Ugric languages . In the course of colonialism , it was spread to other parts of the world, particularly America , sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania . In addition, in some countries, such as Turkey , it was introduced by choice. This makes the Latin writing system the most widely used writing system in the world. Alphabets from over 60 countries are derived from this with adaptations and are characterized as " Latin alphabets ".

The Latin writing system itself, on the other hand, is not an alphabet, since for the totality of the characters - in addition to the 26 basic letters over 90 others - no generally applicable letter sequence constituting alphabets is defined. For example, the letter ö is sorted in the German alphabet as a variant of the o , but in Swedish it is the last letter after z , å and ä . Nevertheless, the term Latin alphabet is often used for the writing system itself.

As a result of the adaptation to numerous languages or language groups, the Latin writing system includes many letters, some with diacritical marks , which are only used in certain languages. The 26 most widespread letters of the Latin alphabet are recorded in various standards, such as ASCII , ISO 646 or the Unicode block Basic Latin .

A derived from the Latin alphabet basic font is called Latin or Roman script called. A transcription of other writing systems in a Latin alphabet is called Romanization .

The Latin writing system

Worldwide use of the Latin writing system:
  • Latin script only
  • Latin script alongside other writing systems
  • The character set of the Latin writing system includes the letters of all alphabets that are derived from the Latin alphabet. The individual alphabets contain either all 26 letters of the basic Latin alphabet or most of them:

    Capital letter A. B. C. D. E. F. G H I. J K L. M. N O P Q R. S. T U V W. X Y Z
    lowercase letters a b c d e f G H i j k l m n O p q r s t u v w x y z

    Many alphabets have additional characters, for example the three umlauts (Ä, Ö, Ü) and the Eszett (ß) in the German alphabet . The additional characters are mostly letters with diacritical marks . Some languages ​​use the basic Latin alphabet unchanged, including the world language English and Malay with 200 million speakers.


    Writing elements

    The Latin script is a letter script , i.e. H. their characters are letters that represent (individually or in groups) phonemes (sounds) of a language. The assignment of letters or groups to sounds can, however, be determined differently for each language-specific alphabet (the letter w can represent the consonant / v / in German, the semi-vowel / w / in English and the vowel / uː / in Welsh ) . A letter for a language can also represent different sounds depending on its position in the word or even only correspond to a writing convention without the sound resulting from the sequence of letters (e.g. English read can be read as [ɹiːd], read 'or [ ɹɛd] 'las').

    In contrast to the classical Latin alphabet , the Latin script is bicameral , i.e. . h, in principle, each letter has two forms: capital letter ( upper case ) and lower-case letter ( minuscule ). In most orthographies , the first letter of the first word in the sentence and the first letter of a proper name are capitalized . Many orthographies also allow the first letter of other words in headings to be capitalized . Furthermore, the exclusive use of capital letters is usually allowed in specially highlighted texts (such as headlines ). The specialty of German orthography is that, according to it, the first letters of nouns are always written as capital letters. A similar regulation for Danish spelling was abolished with the reform of 1948 . - Exceptions are, for example, the Saanich alphabet , which only uses uppercase letters for phonetic representation and the lowercase letter s for the possessive suffix , or that of the Yuchi , which uses lowercase and uppercase letters for different phonemes.

    The Latin writing system includes various phonetic transcription systems , in particular the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the Teuthonista , the Americanist Phonetic Alphabet and the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet (UPA). All mentioned transcriptions use lowercase letters for which there exists no uppercase form if one was those not made in the adoption of such a letter in a different alphabet (as with individual IPA letter to Verschriftung subsahara -afrikanischer languages such as pannigerianische alphabet was made ). If individual capital letter forms have been adopted as phonetic characters, these are considered separate lower case letters, not part of the original upper / lower case pair. For example, the IPA letter [ɪ] ( Unicode : U + 026A latin letter small capital i ) is not part of the letter pair 'I / i', when it was adopted in the alphabet of the Kulango language spoken in Ivory Coast and Ghana , the corresponding language became Capital letter 'Ɪ' (U + A7AE latin capital letter small capital i ) created.


    Typographically , the letters stand on a base line that is not shown and are not connected to each other (except in special fonts or in cursive script ) (in contrast, for example, to Devanagari , in which the characters hang on a visibly drawn base line, or to the Arabic script , in which the Characters of a word are always connected to one another). The letters can be described with the help of a typographic line system .

    Words are always separated from one another by a space (in contrast to scriptio continua, for example, in the classical Latin alphabet or in the Thai script ). Sentence ends and structures within a sentence are marked by punctuation marks, of which the most common ones in modern texts ( point and comma ) are represented much smaller than the letters (in contrast, for example, to the Virgeln of early modern prints or the Dandas of the Indian writing circle ).

    Diacritics, ligatures, variations

    In the alphabets of numerous languages, the letters have been supplemented with diacritical marks (e.g. å, é, ï, ò, û ) in order to be able to represent other language-specific sounds. There are many diacritics in the Vietnamese script , which, like Turkish, was only given a Latin alphabet late on. In contrast, Indonesian or Malay , another Southeast Asian language that was given a Latin alphabet relatively late, uses almost no diacritical marks.

    In addition, letter combinations (such as ch, sch, th, ng, sz ) were developed, which in the course of time could also become ligatures that later (such as W from VV in late Latin, æ from a and e in Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic or the small ß from the long s (ſ) and the round s or z) often became independent letters. It was only in the last few decades that a capital ß (ẞ) developed , which was officially recognized in the amendment to the ISO / IEC-10646 standard that came into force in 2008 .

    New letters but also emerged in that existing differentiated in form, modified or supplemented, as the G in distinction to C already in classical Latin, which Ð (u. A. In Icelandic ), or Ŋ (u. A. In Sami ).

    Further letters were created when the original variants (allographs) of a letter became two independent letters over time (as in later Latin the J next to the I or the U next to the V ).

    Other letters were adopted from other writing systems as new Latin letters. In the days of classical Latin, Y and Z came from Greek to the end of the Latin alphabet, and in Icelandic the letter Þ ( thorn ) was taken from the runic alphabet .

    Character encoding

    The 26 letters of the English alphabet and the most important punctuation marks and special characters are contained in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), which has to be addressed with 7 bits (i.e. encompasses 128 code positions ), which was introduced in 1968. The English language uses all of these 26 characters and does not require any special characters. In order to include the additional special characters required depending on the country or language, versions of this code were created within the framework of ISO 646 in which individual characters of the 7-bit code were exchanged.

    Later, based on the ASCII, different 8-bit codes were designed depending on the region of the world, each of which can address 128 additional characters. The most common of these 8-bit codes are Latin-1 to Latin-10 of the international standard ISO 8859 (ASCII + ANSI) and ISO 6937 . At this stage of development, each computer system went its own way; In the west widespread implementations of character set tables were the Windows code page 1252 , Macintosh Roman and the IBM code pages 437 or 850 .

    In order to summarize the characters required for all languages ​​of the world in a single code, Unicode , initially comprising 16 bits (and now expandable to over a million characters) was created in 1991, which contains Latin letters with diacritical marks in a series of so-called blocks (details on this under Latin characters in Unicode ). The associated ISO standard is the ISO 10646 Universal Coded Character Set , which is set up in parallel and kept compliant.

    See also


    Web links

    Commons : Latin alphabet  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. Definition of Latin script in: Chapter 7: Europe I - Modern and Liturgical Scripts. (PDF) In: The Unicode Standard: Version 8.0 - Core Specification. Unicode Consortium, August 2015, p. 289 , accessed on October 19, 2015 (English).
    2. Michael Everson, Denis Jacquerye, Chris Lilley: Document L2 / 12-270: Proposal for the addition of ten Latin characters to the UCS. Unicode Consortium, July 26, 2012, p. 5 , accessed October 18, 2015 .
    3. ISO / IEC 10646