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date: 06 March 2021

Italy, languages oflocked

  • John Penney


After the introduction of the *alphabet by the Greeks in the 8th cent. bce and its adoption by the native peoples, *literacy gradually spread throughout Italy. Epigraphic remains (see epigraphy) then provide evidence for a variety of languages down to the 1st cent. bce, when the spread of Latin that accompanied the extension of Roman power throughout the peninsula led to the disappearance of all other tongues (except only Greek), at least in their written form, by the Augustan period.There are a number of languages of *Indo-European descent. Many of these can be grouped together and classified as an Italic branch of Indo-European, with two major subgroups in central and southern Italy consisting of Latin (see latin language) and *Faliscan on the one hand and the *Sabellic languages (including Oscan and Umbrian) on the other and perhaps also including geographically remote *Venetic.

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