Latin was used as the language of international communication, scholarship, and science until well into the 18th century, when it began to be supplanted by vernaculars.
Ecclesiastical Latin remains the official language of the Holy See and the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
By the late Roman Republic (75 BC), Old Latin had been standardised into Classical Latin.
The informal language was rarely written, so philologists have been left with only individual words and phrases cited by classical authors and those found as graffiti.
After the Western Roman Empire fell in 476, and Germanic kingdoms took its place, the Germanic people adopted Latin as a language more suitable for legal and other formal uses.
The earliest known form of Latin is Old Latin, which was spoken from the Roman Kingdom to the middle of the Roman Republic period.
Today, many students, scholars and members of the Catholic clergy speak Latin fluently as a liturgical language.
Latin is a highly inflected language, with three distinct genders, seven noun cases, four verb conjugations, four verb principal parts, six tenses, three persons, three moods, two voices, two aspects and two numbers.