Extended Latin

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Eight Unicode blocks contain Latin alphabet letters and their variants, and other letters added to the Latin alphabet for writing various languages.

Basic Latin

Latin-1 Supplement

Latin Extended A

Latin Extended B

IPA Extensions

Phonetic Extensions

Latin Extended Additional

Latin Ligatures

A few languages (English without foreign loan words, Swahili, and Hawai'ian, for example) can be written in Basic Latin. Basic Latin and Latin-1 together cover the languages of Western Europe and Scandinavia. Letters used in Central European languages, African languages, Vietnamese, and so on, are available in several of the other blocks, along with letters used for Romanizing other writing systems, including Cyrillic, Greek, Sanskrit, and many more.

The Latin alphabet is gravely deficient in vowel letters, reflecting its distant origins in Phoenician, where vowels were not written at all. This has resulted in a proliferation of accented vowel letters in the orthographies for many languages. It has also been necessary to invent extra consonant letters for sounds that do not occur in the written forms of European languages, or to reuse letters not needed in a particular language for something quite different.

Xhosa, for example, uses the letter 'x' for the tongue click sometimes written in English as 'tch' or 'tsk-tsk', and the letter 'q' for a louder palatal tongue click that does not occur in English at all. As Miriam Makeba says, "The British call it the Click Song, because they cannot say Qongqothwane." Hawai'ian uses the apostrophe or an IPA letter for the glottal stop, which occurs in English in the utterances 'uh-oh' and 'uh-uh', but not in any dictionary words in most dialects.

The Free Gentium font covers all Unicode latin character blocks.