Latin (i/ˈlætɪn/; Latin: lingua latīna, IPA: [ˈlɪŋɡʷa laˈtiːna]) is a classical language originally spoken in Latium, a part of Italy. Along with the extinct languages Oscan, Umbrian, and Faliscan, it belongs to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. It was written in the Latin alphabet, a writing system derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets. Through the power of Roman Republic and Empire, Latin became the dominant language in Italy and was spread throughout Europe. Non-standard Latin dialects (Vulgar Latin) developed into the Romance languages, such as Italian, Spanish, and French. Latin and French have contributed many words to English, and Latin and Greek roots are used in biologyand medicine. History The medieval Roman dialect was a dialect belonging to the central-southern family, and much closer to the neapolitan dialect than to the florentine. Typical example of Romanesco of that period is the Vita di Cola di Rienzo, written by a Roman anonymous during the 14th century. Starting with the 16th century, the Roman dialect underwent a stronger and stronger influence from the Tuscan (from which modern Italian derives) starting with the reigns of the two Medici popes (Leo Xand Clement VII) and with the Sack of Rome in 1527, two events which both provoked a large immigration from central Italy. Education Throughout European history, an education in the Classics was considered crucial for those who wished to join literate circles. Instruction in Latin is an essential aspect of Classics. In today's world, a large number of Latin students in America learn from Wheelock's Latin: The Classic Introductory Latin Course, Based on Ancient Authors. This book, first published in 1956, was written by Frederic M. Wheelock, who received a PhD from Harvard University. Wheelock's Latin has become the standard text for many American introductory Latin courses. Official status Latin has been or is the official language of European states: Croatia - Latin was the official language of Croatian Parliament (Sabor) from the 13th until the 19th century (1847). The oldest preserved records of the parliamentary sessions (Congregatio Regni totius Sclavonie generalis)—held in Zagreb (Zagabria), Croatia—date from 19 April 1273. An extensive Croatian Latin literature exists. Poland - officially recognized and widely used between the 9th and 18th centuries, commonly used in foreign relations and popular as a second language among some of the nobility.