Difference Between Greek and Latin

Main Difference – Greek vs. Latin

Greek and Latin are two of the most prominent and oldest languages in the Indo-European language family. Most of the western languages like English, French, Spanish and Italian are heavily influenced by these two languages. The main difference between Greek and Latin can be considered as their usage. Greek is still a native language to many people; therefore it is considered a living language. Latin is considered an extinct language because there are no native speakers of Latin, and it is not used for day to day communication purposes.

What Does Greek Mean

Greek is the language spoken by Greeks. It is used in southern Balkans, the Aegean Islands, western Asia Minor, parts of northern and Eastern Anatolia and the South Caucasus, southern Italy, Albania and Cyprus. The Greek language has an independent branch in the Indo-European language family and is considered to have the longest documented history (nearly 34 centuries of written records.) of any Indo-European language. The Greek language is divided into periods such as Proto-Greek, Koine Greek, Medieval Greek, Modern Greek, etc.

The Greek alphabet, which is said to be originated from Phoenician script, is the basis of many writing systems including Latin and Gothic. The Greek language holds an important place in the western world as Greek literature such as Iliad and Odyssey made the foundation of the Western literature. During classical antiquity, Greek was the lingua franca in the Meditation world, and it was the official language of Byzantine Empire. Today, modern Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus. There are about 13 million of native speakers of Greek.

Difference Between Greek and Latin

Early Greek Alphabet

What Does Latin Mean

Latin is a classical language which have made the foundation for many languages for  the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family. Originally, Latin was one of the languages spoken in the area known as Latium, Italy. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan alphabet and the earliest known inscriptions in Latin dates back to 6th Century BC.

Latin became the dominant language as Rome, which was originally a town in Latium, began to spend its influence over the other parts of Italy and then over Europe. Latin was the main language used in the Roman empire. But during the 15th century, it began to lose its leading position as the foremost language in Europe and was replaced by other languages. However, these languages too were heavily influenced by Latin. In fact, many words in the English language have Latin origins. Latin terminology is also used in fields like biology, medicine, and theology.

Although Latin is still used by Roman Catholic Church and Christian clergy and is an official language of the Vatican city, it is considered as a dead or extinct language. This is due to several reasons. Latin is no longer used as the native language of anyone, nor it is used in day to day communication. The Latin language does not change or develop though it is still studied by people as it is the origin of many languages.

The Latin language has been classified into different periods such as Old Latin, Classical Latin, Vulgar Latin, Medieval Latin, etc. for the ease of analysis. Classical Latin is the Latin mainly studied in the written form. Many of the modern Latin textbooks, courses look at texts written in Classical Latin. However, some authors like Cicero and Petronius used Vulgar Latin in their work. Vulgar Latin is the term that identifies the colloquial language spoken by the people at the time. Vulgar Latin later evolved into Italic/Romance languages like Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc.Main Difference - Greek vs Lati

Difference Between Greek and Latin

Language family

Greek belongs to Hellenic or Greek branch of the Indo-European language family.

Latin belongs to the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family.


Greek is a living language.

Latin is an extinct language.


Greek alphabet is originated from the Phoenician script.

Latin alphabet is influenced by  the Greek script.

Byzantine Empire 

Greek was the it was the official language of Byzantine Empire during classical antiquity.

Latin was the official language of Byzantine Empire during late antiquity.

Official language

Greek is the official language of Greece and Cyprus.

Latin is the official language of the Vatican city.Difference Between Greek and Latin - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“NAMA Alphabet grec” by Marsyas (2007). (CC BY 2.5) via Commons

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