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Latin was the language spoken by the ancient Romans. After the fall of the western Roman Empire it continued to be used as a language of scholarship throughout Europe, and for centuries a knowledge of Latin was considered essential to any educated person. In different regions of the former Roman Empire, Latin as a spoken language evolved into the Romance languages, which include French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, Occitan and Romanian. Many words in English derive from Latin, both directly and via other languages, especially French; and Latin terms are appropriated directly to describe specialised concepts, eg in legal English, and for commonly-used expressions like ad hoc, et cetera (etc.) and id est (ie.).

Today Latin is considered a dead language, ie. it has no native speakers. However, it is still widely taught, to facilitate the study of Latin texts, to deepen understanding of other languages, or for pleasure. Latin is also still used for some Catholic church services, and may be used on formal occasions such as degree ceremonies.

Latin is a member of the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family.

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