The word Latin has more than one meaning.
- As a noun, Latin usually means the Latin language. Latins in linguistics is a jargon form for Romance languages, i.e., languages descended from Latin. The latin alphabet or script is the alphabet used in English, most languages of western Europe and many other languages.
- The Latins were an ancient people of central Italy, in the region known as Latium. The most important of the Latin cities was Rome – see the founding of Rome for some details. In mythology, the name came from the mythical king Latinus.
- Later, the western half of the Roman Empire was often referred to as Latin, as opposed to the Greek east. This term was also applied to the Roman Catholic church and western successor states, and especially to the crusaders. For instance, the crusader kingdom in Constantinople is called the Latin Empire, and the kingdoms of Jerusalem and Acre were also known as Latin kingdoms.
- Ecclesiastical Latin is the language used by the Roman Catholic Church, which is somewhat different from the Latin confined to the time of the Holy Roman Empire.
- As an adjective, Latin can be used to describe things relating to the Romance-speaking peoples of the Mediterranean and the Americas, such as in terms like Latin America, Latin lover, and Latin music. In contexts of ethnicity, "Latin" generally refers to people descended from speakers of a Romance language; in the United States, the term frequently refers to those of Spanish or Portuguese ancestry.
See also: Latin language Wikipedia
Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45