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Latin language

Classical Latin

Classical Latin, distinguished by its formality and elegance, was greatly influenced in vocabulary, grammar, and style by Greek. By the end of the Roman Republic (1st cent. B.C.) classical Latin had become a suitable medium for the greatest poetry and prose of the day. Grammatically, classical Latin featured five declensions and six cases in its inflection of the noun; there was no definite article. Noun subclassifications included three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter) and two numbers (singular and plural). Verb inflection was highly developed, expressing tense, mood, voice, person, and number. Latin is written in the Roman alphabet, which was apparently derived from the Etruscan alphabet. The latter, in turn, was adapted from the Greek alphabet (see Greek language).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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