Greek belongs to the Hellenic branch of the Indo-European language family, and is spoken by about 13 million people mainly in Greece and Cyprus, where it is an official language. Greek is also recognised as a minority language in parts of Italy, and in Albania, Armenia, Romania and Ukraine.
Greek was first written in Mycenae with a script known as Linear B, which was used between about 1500 and 1200 BC. This variety of Greek is known as Mycenaean. On Crete another script, known as the Cypriot syllabary, was used to write the local variety of Greek between about 1200 and 300 BC.
The Greek alphabet has been in continuous use since about 750 BC. It was developed from the Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet and the order and names of the letters are derived from Phoenician. The original Canaanite meanings of the letter names were lost when the alphabet was adapted for Greek. For example, alpha comes for the Canaanite aleph (ox) and beta from beth(house).