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From there it spread through Italy, around the Mediterranean excluding Greece, and most of central and western Europe. Towards the end of the Roman empire, and during the middle ages varius local variants were developed and few letters added. It also came into use in northern, and parts of eastern, Europe and almost completely disappeared from the southern and eastern rim of the Mediterran sea. Beginning with the 15th century, Latin script spread to all continents with colonisation. With the exceptions of China, Korea, and Japan, where only numerals were adopted, parts of India, the Arabic world, north and central Asia, and small parts of Africa, it prevailed until today. Latin is the most-used single script both by user count and geographic spread.
Today, the Latin alphabet has 26 base letters, which come in two cases. It has a huge set of diacritics, some ligatures being treated like letters in some languages, and it comes with a set of miscellaneous punctuation symbols.
- Not all base letters are used in every language written in Latin script.
- All languages of Latin script use both upper and lower case.
- Upper case is used:
- mostly for the initial letter of some words under certain circumstances, rules when that applies vary vastly between languages;
- for some complete words or expressions, mostly acronyms or abbreviations;
- optionally for entire Words, or blocks of text, for reasons outside the scope of writing the language; these uses are not covered in OmegaWiki.
- Lower case is used:
- Occasionlly complete texts are held all lowercase for esthetic reasons; these cases are not covered in OmegaWiki.
- Most languages use only a small set of accented letters.
- Some langages treat special accented letters, or ligatures, as additional base letters.
- Some languages define letter sequences that can replace accented letters, or ligatures, when these are unvailable or unwanted.
- Some sort orders are based on such replacements.
- The replacement is usually irreversible based on letters alone, and at times irreversible even with dictionary assistance.
- Most languages use only a subset of the interpunctuations symbols.
- The use of interpunctuation follows certain rules, these vary between languages.
- Graphic representations of several single Latin letters have variations. These sometimes loosesly correlate to time periods. As a matter of taste, they bear no lingustic relevance.
- There is a wide array of fonts, or sets of graphic representations of the entire alphabet. In Latin script, switching of fonts within a text is used to:
- represent switches of semantic context;
- indicate focus, or stress, for select portions of text.
Languages using Latin script
- http://www.unicode.org/versions/Unicode4.0.0/ch07.pdf - see Chapter 7.1 Latin.