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languages of Italy

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After the introduction of the alphabet by the Greeks in the 8th cent. bc and its adoption by the native peoples, literacy gradually spread throughout Italy. Epigraphic remains (see epigraphy) provide evidence for a variety of languages down to the 1st cent. bc, 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.

See etruscan language; latin language.

Subjects: Classical studies

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