The classical Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is a writing system which evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, itself a descendant of the Phoenician alphabet, also itself a descendant of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome. The Etruscan alphabet was in turn adopted and further modified by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language.
During the Middle Ages, the Latin alphabet was adapted to Romance languages, direct descendants of Latin, as well as to Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, and some Slavic languages. With the age of colonialism and Christian evangelism, the Latin script was spread overseas, and applied to indigenous American, Australian, Austronesian, Austroasiatic, and African languages. More recently, linguists have also tended to prefer the Latin script or the International Phonetic Alphabet (itself largely based on Latin script) when transcribing or creating written standards for non-European languages, such as the African reference alphabet.
The term Latin alphabet may refer to either the alphabet used to write Latin (as described in this article), or other alphabets based on the Latin script, which is the basic set of letters common to the various alphabets descended from the classical Latin one, such as the English alphabet. These Latin alphabets may discard letters, like the Rotokas alphabet, or add new letters, like the Danish and Norwegian alphabet. Letter shapes have changed over the centuries, including the creation for Medieval Latin of lower case forms which did not exist in the Classical period.