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As a result, the list has variants, as well as alternative names.In addition to the historical phases, Ecclesiastical Latin refers to the styles used by the writers of the Roman Catholic Church as well as by Protestant scholars from Late Antiquity onward.

A number of historical phases of the language have been recognised, each distinguished by subtle differences in vocabulary, usage, spelling, morphology, and syntax.

There are no hard and fast rules of classification; different scholars emphasise different features.

It is attested both in inscriptions and in some of the earliest extant Latin literary works, such as the comedies of Plautus and Terence.

The Latin alphabet was devised from the Etruscan alphabet.

The Vulgar Latin dialect that would later become Romanian diverged somewhat more from the other varieties, as it was largely cut off from the unifying influences in the western part of the Empire.

One key marker of whether a given Romance feature was found in Vulgar Latin is to compare it with its parallel in Classical Latin.The Decline of the Roman Empire meant a deterioration in educational standards that brought about Late Latin, a postclassical stage of the language seen in Christian writings of the time.It was more in line with everyday speech, not only because of a decline in education but also because of a desire to spread the word to the masses.Vulgar Latin began to diverge into distinct languages by the 9th century at the latest, when the earliest extant Romance writings begin to appear.They were, throughout the period, confined to everyday speech, as Medieval Latin was used for writing.As it was free to develop on its own, there is no reason to suppose that the speech was uniform either diachronically or geographically.