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A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the
native language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) ...
, normally
spoken Spoken is the past participle form of "to speak". Spoken may also refer to: *Spoken (band), a Christian rock group from Arkansas *''Spoken (album)'', an album by Spoken See also

*Speak (disambiguation) {{disambiguation ...
informally rather than written, and seen as of lower status than more codified forms. It may vary from more prestigious speech varieties in different ways, in that the vernacular can be a distinct stylistic register, a regional
dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to a variety (linguis ...
, a
sociolect In sociolinguistics, a sociolect is a variety (linguistics), form of language (nonstandard dialect, non-standard dialect, restricted register (sociolinguistics), register) or a set of lexicon, lexical items used by a socioeconomic class, a professi ...
, or an independent language. Vernacular is a term for a type of speech variety, generally used to refer to a local language or dialect, as distinct from what is seen as a standard language. The vernacular is contrasted with higher-prestige forms of language, such as
national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ...
,
literary Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities ...
,
liturgical Liturgy is the customary public worship Worship is an act of religion, religious wikt:devotion, devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a recognition of a god. An act of worship ma ...
or
scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as an invention. ...
idiom, or a ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
'', used to facilitate communication across a large area. According to another definition, a vernacular is a language that has not developed a
standard variety A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is employed by a population for public communication. The term ''standard langua ...
, undergone
codification Codification may refer to: *Codification (law), the process of preparing and enacting a legal code *Codification (linguistics), the process of selecting, developing and prescribing a model for standard language usage *Accounting Standards Codificati ...
, or established a literary tradition. In the context of language standardization, the terms "vernacular" and "vernacular dialect" are also used as alternative designations for " non-standard dialect".


Etymology

First usage of the word "vernacular" is not recent. In 1688, James Howell wrote:
Concerning Italy, doubtless there were divers before the Latin did spread all over that Country; the
Calabria it, Calabrese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demogr ...

Calabria
n, and
Apulia it, Pugliese , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = , demographics1_titl ...

Apulia
n spoke Greek, whereof some Relicks are to be found to this day; but it was an adventitious, no Mother-Language to them: 'tis confess'd that
Latium Latium ( , ; ) is the region of central western Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding it, whose territory large ...
it self, and all the Territories about Rome, had the Latin for its maternal and common first vernacular Tongue; but
Tuscany it, Toscano (man) it, Toscana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Citizenship , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = Italian , demogra ...
and
Liguria it, Ligure , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = , demographics1_title2 ...

Liguria
had others quite discrepant,
viz. The abbreviation ''viz.'' (or ''viz'' without a full stop) is short for the Latin , which itself is a contraction of the Latin phrase ''videre licet'', meaning "it is permitted to see". It is used as a synonym for "namely", "that is to say", "to ...
the Hetruscane and Mesapian, whereof though there be some Records yet extant; yet there are none alive that can understand them: The
Oscan Oscan is an extinct Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and th ...
, the Sabin and Tusculan, are thought to be but Dialects to these.
Here, vernacular, mother language and dialect are already in use in a modern sense. According to
Merriam-Webster Merriam-Webster, Inc. is an American company that publishes reference books A reference work is a work such as a book or periodical literature, periodical (or electronic publishing, its electronic equivalent) to which one can refer for info ...
, "vernacular" was brought into the English language as early as 1601 from the Latin ''vernaculus'' ("native") which had been in figurative use in
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestur ...
as "national" and "domestic", having originally been derived from ''vernus'' and ''verna'', a male or female slave born in the house rather than abroad. The figurative meaning was broadened from the diminutive extended words ''vernaculus, vernacula''.
Varro Marcus Terentius Varro (; 116–27 BC) was a Roman polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowledge spans a substantial number of subjects, known ...
, the classical Latin grammarian, used the term ''vocabula vernacula'', "termes de la langue nationale" or "vocabulary of the national language" as opposed to foreign words.


Concepts of the vernacular


General linguistics


In contrast with lingua franca

In , a vernacular is contrasted with a ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
'', a third-party language in which persons speaking different vernaculars not understood by each other may communicate. For instance, in
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
until the 17th century, most scholarly works had been written in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, which was serving as a lingua franca. Works written in
Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo- ...
s are said to be in the vernacular. The ''
Divina Commedia The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is a long Italian narrative poem by Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to simply as Dante (, also ; – 1321), w ...

Divina Commedia
'', the ''
Cantar de Mio Cid ''El Cantar de mio Cid'', literally "The Song of my Cid" (or ''El Poema de mio Cid''), also known in English as ''The Poem of the Cid'', is the oldest preserved Castilian epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily invol ...
'', and
The Song of Roland ''The Song of Roland'' (french: La Chanson de Roland) is an 11th-century epic poem (chanson de geste) based on Roland and the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778, during the reign of Charlemagne. It is the oldest surviving major work of French lite ...
are examples of early vernacular literature in Italian, Spanish, and French, respectively. In Europe, Latin was used widely instead of vernacular languages in varying forms until c. 1701, in its latter stage as
New Latin New Latin (also called Neo-Latin or modern Latin) is the revival of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, know ...
. In religion,
Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose comin ...
was a driving force in the use of the vernacular in Christian Europe, the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
being translated from Latin into vernacular languages with such works as the Bible in Dutch: published in 1526 by
Jacob van Liesvelt Jacob van Liesvelt or Jacob van Liesveldt (Antwerp, c. 1489, – Antwerp, 28 November 1545), was a Flemish printer, publisher and bookseller.Luther Bible The Luther Bible (german: Lutherbibel) is a German language The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switze ...
in 1534 (
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
1522); Bible in Spanish: published in Basel in 1569 by Casiodoro de Reina (Biblia del Oso); Bible in Czech: Bible of Kralice, printed between 1579 and 1593; Bible in English:
King James Bible The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version, is an English translations of the Bible, English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, which was commissioned in 1604 and publ ...
, published in 1611; Bible in Slovene, published in 1584 by Jurij Dalmatin. In
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...
, vernacular bibles were later provided, but Latin was used at
Tridentine Mass The Tridentine Mass, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass or Traditional Rite, is the Roman Rite Mass (liturgy), Mass of the Catholic Church which appears in Editio typica, typical editions of the Roman Missal published from 1570 to 1962. Cel ...

Tridentine Mass
until the
Second Vatican Council The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the , or , was the 21st ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological e ...
of 1965. Certain groups, notably
Traditionalist Catholic Traditionalist Catholicism is a set of religious beliefs and practices comprising customs, traditions, liturgical forms, public and private, individual and collective devotions, and presentations of Catholic Church The Catholic Church, ...
s, continue to practice
Latin Mass A Latin Mass is a Roman Catholic Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', sh ...
. In
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
, four
Gospels Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel"), but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set out. In this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrative of the words and ...
translated to vernacular Ukrainian language in 1561 are known as
Peresopnytsia Gospel The Peresopnytsia Gospels ( uk, Пересопницьке Євангеліє, ''Peresopnytske Yevanheliie''), dating from the 16th century, is one of the most intricate surviving East Slavic peoples, East Slavic manuscripts. It was made between 15 ...
. In India, the 12th century
Bhakti movement The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with '' deism'', the term often describes the classical conception ...
led to the translation of Sanskrit texts to the vernacular. In science, an early user of the vernacular was
Galileo Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei ( , ; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), commonly referred to as Galileo, was an astronomer An astronomer is a scientist in the field of astronomy who focuses their studies on a specific qu ...

Galileo
, writing in Italian c. 1600, though some of his works remained in Latin. A later example is
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics a ...

Isaac Newton
, whose 1687 '' Principia'' was in Latin, but whose 1704 ''
Opticks ''Opticks: or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light'' is a book by English natural philosopher Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March Old Style and New Style dates, 1726/ ...

Opticks
'' was in English. Latin continues to be used in certain fields of science, notably
binomial nomenclature In taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only ...
in biology, while other fields such as mathematics use vernacular; see
scientific nomenclature Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
for details. In diplomacy, French displaced Latin in Europe in the 1710s, due to the military power of
Louis XIV of France Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the of any monarch of a sovereign country in ...

Louis XIV of France
. Certain languages have both a classical form and various vernacular forms, with two widely used examples being Arabic and Chinese: see
Varieties of Arabic The varieties Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in univer ...
and
Chinese language Chinese ( or also , especially for the written language) is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic lan ...
. In the 1920s, due to the
May Fourth Movement The May Fourth Movement was a Chinese anti-imperialist Anti-imperialism in political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of pol ...
,
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; Written vernacular Chinese, modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the cla ...
was replaced by
written vernacular Chinese Written vernacular Chinese (), also known as Baihua, is the forms of written Chinese Written Chinese () comprises Chinese characters used to represent the Chinese language. Chinese characters do not constitute an alphabet or a compact syllabar ...
.


As a low variant in diglossia

The vernacular is also often contrasted with a
liturgical language A sacred language, holy language or liturgical language is any language that is cultivated and used primarily in church service or for other religion, religious reasons by people who speak another, primary language in their daily lives. Concep ...
, a specialized use of a former ''lingua franca''. For example, until the 1960s,
Roman Rite #REDIRECT Roman Rite The Roman Rite ( la, Ritus Romanus) is the main liturgical rite of the Latin or Western Church, the largest of the sui iuris particular Churches that make up the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred ...
Catholics held Masses in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
rather than in vernaculars; the
Coptic Church Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century * Coptic alphabet, th ...

Coptic Church
still holds
liturgies Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, liturgy represents a communal response to and participation in the sacred through activities reflecting praise, thanksgiving, remembrance, supplic ...
in
Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century * Coptic alphabet, th ...
, not Arabic; the
Ethiopian Orthodox Church The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church ( am, የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን, ''Yäityop'ya ortodoks täwahedo bétäkrestyan'') is the largest of Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity compri ...

Ethiopian Orthodox Church
holds liturgies in Ge'ez though parts of Mass are read in
Amharic Amharic ( or ; (Amharic: ), ', ) is an Ethiopian Semitic languages, Ethiopian Semitic language, which is a subgrouping within the Semitic languages, Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages. It is spoken as a first language by the Amhara pe ...

Amharic
. Similarly, in
Hindu Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic re ...

Hindu
culture, traditionally religious or scholarly works were written in
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor langua ...

Sanskrit
(long after its use as a spoken language) or in
Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native to Malaysia * Tamil language, a Dravidian languages, ...

Tamil
in Tamil country. Sanskrit was a lingua franca among the non-Indo-European languages of the Indian subcontinent and became more of one as the spoken language, or
prakrit The Prakrits (; Early Brahmi 𑀧𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀓𑀾𑀢, ''prākṛta''; Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, ...
s, began to diverge from it in different regions. With the rise of the
bhakti movement The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with '' deism'', the term often describes the classical conception ...
from the 12th century onwards, religious works were created in the other languages:
Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, North India. Hindi has been described as a Standard la ...

Hindi
,
Kannada Kannada (; ಕನ್ನಡ, ; less commonly known as Kanarese) is a Dravidian language Dravidian languages (or sometimes Dravidic languages) are a family of languages In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of peop ...
,
Telugu Telugu may refer to: * Telugu language, a major Dravidian language of India *Telugu people, an ethno-linguistic group of India * Telugu script, used to write the Telugu language ** Telugu (Unicode block), a block of Telugu characters in Unicode ...
and many others. For example, the
Ramayana ''Rāmāyana'' (; sa, रामायणम्, ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India and important text of Hinduism, the other being the ''Mahabharata, Mahābhārata''. The epi ...

Ramayana
, one of Hinduism's sacred epics in Sanskrit, had vernacular versions such as '' Ranganadha Ramayanam'' composed in Telugu by Gona Buddha Reddy in the 15th century; and ''
Ramacharitamanasa ''Ramcharitmanas'' (Devanāgarī Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida (alph ...
'', a Hindi version of the Ramayana by the 16th-century poet
Tulsidas Tulsidas (; 1532–1623), also known as Goswami Tulsidas, was a Ramanandi Vaishnava Vaishnavism is one of the major Hindu denominations along with Shaivism Shaivism () is one of the major Hindu traditions that worships Shiva, also ...

Tulsidas
. These circumstances are a contrast between a vernacular and language variant used by the same speakers. According to one school of linguistic thought, all such variants are examples of a linguistic phenomenon termed
diglossia In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
("split tongue", on the model of the genetic anomaly). In it, the language is bifurcated, i.e. the speaker learns two forms of the language and ordinarily uses one but under special circumstances the other. The one most frequently used is the low (L) variant, equivalent to the vernacular, while the special variant is the high (H). The concept was introduced to linguistics by Charles A. Ferguson (1959), but Ferguson explicitly excluded variants as divergent as dialects or different languages or as similar as styles or registers. H must not be a conversational form; Ferguson had in mind a literary language. For example, a lecture is delivered in a different variety than ordinary conversation. Ferguson's own example was classical and spoken Arabic, but the analogy between
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is th ...
and
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestur ...
is of the same type. Excluding the upper-class and lower-class register aspects of the two variants, Classical Latin was a literary language; the people spoke Vulgar Latin as a vernacular.
Joshua Fishman Joshua Aaron Fishman (Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a High German languages, High German–derived language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central ...
redefined the concept in 1964 to include everything Ferguson had excluded. Fishman allowed both different languages and dialects and also different styles and registers as the H variants. The essential contrast between them was that they be "functionally differentiated"; that is, H must be used for special purposes, such as a liturgical or sacred language. Fasold expanded the concept still further by proposing that multiple H exist in society from which the users can select for various purposes. The definition of an H is intermediate between Ferguson's and Fishman's. Realizing the inappropriateness of the term diglossia (only two) to his concept, he proposes the term broad diglossia.


Sociolinguistics

Within
sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, ...
, the term "vernacular" has been applied to several concepts. Context, therefore, is crucial to determining its intended sense.


As an informal register

In variation theory, pioneered by
William Labov William Labov ( ; born December 4, 1927) is an United States, American linguist, widely regarded as the founder of the discipline of variationist sociolinguistics. He has been described as "an enormously original and influential figure who has c ...
, language is a large set of
styles Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style, the features that make a building or structure historically identifiable * Design, the process of creating something * Fashion, a prevailing mode of clothing s ...
or registers from which the speaker selects according to the social setting of the moment. The vernacular is "the least self-conscious style of people in a relaxed conversation", or "the most basic style"; that is, casual varieties used spontaneously rather than self-consciously, informal talk used in intimate situations. In other contexts the speaker does conscious work to select the appropriate variations. The one they can use without this effort is the first form of speech acquired.


As a non-standard dialect

In another theory, the vernacular is opposed to the
standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * Standard (metrology), an object that bears a defined relationship to a unit of ...
. The non-standard varieties thus defined are dialects, which are to be identified as complexes of factors: "social class, region, ethnicity, situation, and so forth." Both the standard and the non-standard language have dialects, but in contrast to the standard, the non-standard have "socially disfavored" structures. The standard are primarily written (in traditional print media) but the non-standard are spoken. An example of a vernacular dialect is
African American Vernacular English African-American Vernacular English (AAVE, ), also referred to as Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), Black Vernacular English (BVE), occasionally as Ebonics (a colloquial, controversial Controversy is a state of prolonged public ...
.


As an idealisation

A vernacular is not a real language but is "an abstract set of norms."


First vernacular grammar

Vernaculars acquired the status of
official language An official language is a language given a special status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciar ...

official language
s through metalinguistic publications. Between 1437 and 1586, the first
grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...
of
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
, ,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
,
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
and
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
were written, though not always immediately published. It is to be understood that the first vestiges of those languages preceded their standardization by up to several hundred years.


Dutch

In the 16th century, the " rederijkerskamers", learned literary societies founded throughout
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
and
Holland Holland is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (en ...

Holland
from the 1420s onward, attempted to impose a Latin structure on Dutch, on the presumption that Latin grammar had a "universal character." However, in 1559
John III van de Werve, Lord of Hovorst John II van de Werve (Antwerp, 1522-1576), Lord of Hovorst, Vierseldijk and Boechout was a member of the nobility and of the civic government of Antwerp. Family John III was the son of Gerald van de Werve, 5th Lord of Hovorst. He married three ...
published his grammar ''Den schat der Duytsscher Talen'' in Dutch and so did
Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert (152229 October 1590), also known as Theodore Cornhert, was a Dutch writer, philosopher, translator, politician, theologian Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious ...
(''Eenen nieuwen ABC of Materi-boeck'') in 1564. The Latinizing tendency changed course with the joint publication in 1584 by De Eglantier, the rhetoric society of Amsterdam, of the first comprehensive Dutch grammar, ''Twe-spraack vande Nederduitsche letterkunst/ ófte Vant spellen ende eyghenscap des Nederduitschen taals''. Hendrick Laurenszoon Spieghel was a major contributor but others contributed as well.


English

Modern English is considered to have begun at a conventional date of about 1550, most notably at the end of the Great Vowel Shift. It was created by the infusion of Old French into Old English after the Norman conquest of 1066 AD and of Latin at the instigation of the clerical administration. While present-day English speakers may be able to read Middle English authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Old English is much more difficult. Middle English is known for its alternative spellings and pronunciations. The British Isles, although geographically limited, have always supported populations of widely variant dialects (as well as a few different languages). Being the language of a maritime power, English was of necessity formed from elements of many different languages. Standardization has been an ongoing issue. Even in the age of modern communications and mass media, according to one study, "… although the Received Pronunciation of Standard English has been heard constantly on radio and then television for over 60 years, only 3 to 5% of the population of Britain actually speaks RP … new brands of English have been springing up even in recent times ...." What the vernacular would be in this case is a moot point: "… the standardisation of English has been in progress for many centuries." Modern English came into being as the standard Middle English, i.e. as the preferred dialect of the monarch, court and administration. That dialect was East Midland, which had spread to London where the king resided and from which he ruled. It contained Danish forms not often used in the north or south, as the Danes had settled heavily in the midlands. Chaucer wrote in an early East Midland style, John Wycliffe translated the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
into it, and William Caxton, the first English printer, wrote in it. Caxton is considered the first modern English author. The first printed book in England was Chaucer's ''Canterbury Tales'', published by Caxton in 1476. The first English grammars were written in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, with some in . After a general plea for mother-tongue education in England: ''The first part of the elementary'', published in 1582 by Richard Mulcaster, William Bullokar wrote the first English grammar to be written in English: ''Pamphlet for Grammar'', followed by ''Bref Grammar'', both in 1586. Previously he had written ''Booke at Large for the Amendment of Orthography for English Speech'' (1580) but his orthography was not generally accepted and was soon supplanted, and his grammar shared a similar fate. Other grammars in English followed rapidly: Paul Greaves' ''Grammatica Anglicana'', 1594; Alexander Hume's ''Orthographie and Congruitie of the Britain Tongue'', 1617, and many others. Over the succeeding decades many literary figures turned a hand to grammar in English: Alexander Gill, Ben Jonson, Joshua Poole, John Wallis, Jeremiah Wharton, James Howell, Thomas Lye, Christopher Cooper (grammarian), Christopher Cooper, William Lily (grammarian), William Lily, John Colet and so on, all leading to the massive dictionary of Samuel Johnson.


French

French (as Old French) emerged as a Gallo-Romance languages, Gallo-Romance language from Colloquial Latin during late antiquity. The written language is known from at least as early as the 9th century. That language contained many forms still identifiable as Latin. Interest in standardizing French began in the 16th century. Because of the Norman conquest of England and the Anglo-Norman domains in both northwestern France and Britain, English scholars retained an interest in the fate of French as well as of English. Some of the numerous 16th-century surviving grammars are: * John Palsgrave, ''L'esclarcissement de la langue francoyse'' (1530; in English). * Louis Meigret, ''Tretté de la grammaire françoeze'' (1550). * Robert Stephanus: ''Traicté de la grammaire françoise'' (1557).


German

The development of a standard German was impeded by political disunity and strong local traditions until the invention of printing made possible a "High German-based book language." This literary language was not identical to any specific variety of German. The first grammar evolved from pedagogical works that also tried to create a uniform standard from the many regional dialects for various reasons. Religious leaders wished to create a sacred language for
Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose comin ...
that would be parallel to the use of Latin for the Roman Catholic Church. Various administrations wished to create a civil service, or chancery, language that would be useful in more than one locality. And finally, nationalists wished to counter the spread of the French national language into German-speaking territories assisted by the efforts of the French Academy. With so many linguists moving in the same direction, a standard German (''hochdeutsche Schriftsprache'') did evolve without the assistance of a language academy. Its precise origin, the major constituents of its features, remains uncertainly known and debatable. Latin prevailed as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
until the 17th century, when grammarians began to debate the creation of an ideal language. Before 1550 as a conventional date, "supraregional compromises" were used in printed works, such as the one published by Valentin Ickelsamer (''Ein Teutsche Grammatica'') 1534. Books published in one of these artificial variants began to increase in frequency, replacing the Latin then in use. After 1550 the supraregional ideal broadened to a universal intent to create a national language from Early New High German by deliberately ignoring regional forms of speech, which practice was considered to be a form of purification parallel to the ideal of purifying religion in
Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose comin ...
. In 1617, the Fruitbearing Society, a language club, was formed in Weimar in imitation of the Accademia della Crusca in Italy. It was one of many such clubs; however, none became a national academy. In 1618–1619 Johannes Kromayer wrote the first all-German grammar. In 1641 Justin Georg Schottel in ''teutsche Sprachkunst'' presented the standard language as an artificial one. By the time of his work of 1663, ''ausführliche Arbeit von der teutschen Haubt-Sprache'', the standard language was well established.


Irish

''Auraicept na n-Éces'' is a grammar of the Irish language which is thought to date back as far as the 7th century: the earliest surviving manuscripts are 12th-century.


Italian

Italian appears before standardization as the ''lingua Italica'' of Isidore of Seville, Isidore and the ''lingua vulgaris'' of subsequent medieval writers. Documents of mixed Latin and Italian are known from the 12th century, which appears to be the start of writing in Italian. The first known grammar of a Romance language was a book written in manuscript form by Leon Battista Alberti between 1437 and 1441 and entitled ''Grammatica della lingua toscana'', "Grammar of the Tuscan Language." In it Alberti sought to demonstrate that the vernacular – here Tuscan, known today as modern Italian – was every bit as structured as Latin. He did so by mapping vernacular structures onto Latin. The book was never printed until 1908. It was not generally known, but it was known, as an inventory of the library of Lorenzo de'Medici lists it under the title ''Regule lingue florentine'' ("Rules of the Florentine language"). The only known manuscript copy, however, is included in the codex, Reginense Latino 1370, located at Rome in the Vatican library. It is therefore called the ''Grammatichetta vaticana.'' More influential perhaps were the 1516 ''Regole grammaticali della volgar lingua'' of Giovanni Francesco Fortunio and the 1525 ''Prose della vulgar lingua'' of Pietro Bembo. In those works the authors strove to establish a dialect that would qualify for becoming the Italian national language.


Occitan

The first grammar in a vernacular language in western Europe was published in Toulouse in 1327. Known as the ''Leys d'amor'' and written by Guilhèm Molinièr, an advocate of Toulouse, it was published in order to codify the use of the Occitan language in poetry competitions organized by the company of the Acadèmia dels Jòcs Florals, Gai Saber in both grammar and rherotical ways.


Spanish

Spanish (more accurately, ''lengua castellana'') has a development chronologically similar to that of Italian: some vocabulary in Isidore of Seville, traces afterward, writing from about the 12th century, standardization beginning in the 15th century, coincident with the rise of Crown of Castile, Castile as an international power. The first Spanish grammar by Antonio de Nebrija (''Gramática de la lengua castellana, Tratado de gramática sobre la lengua Castellana'', 1492) was divided into parts for native and nonnative speakers, pursuing a different purpose in each: Books 1–4 describe the Spanish language grammatically in order to facilitate the study of Latin for its Spanish speaking readers. Book 5 contains a phonetical and morphological overview of Spanish for nonnative speakers.


Welsh

The ''Grammar Books of the Master-poets'' ( cy, Gramadegau'r Penceirddiaid) are considered to have been composed in the early fourteenth century, and are present in manuscripts from soon after. These tractates draw on the traditions of the Latin grammars of Donatus and Priscianus and also on the teaching of the professional Welsh poets. The tradition of grammars of the Welsh Language developed from these through the Middle Ages and to the Renaissance.


First vernacular dictionaries

A dictionary is to be distinguished from a glossary. Although numerous glossaries publishing vernacular words had long been in existence, such as the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville, which listed many Spanish words, the first vernacular dictionaries emerged together with vernacular grammars.


Dutch

Glossaries in Dutch began about 1470 AD leading eventually to two Dutch dictionaries: * Christophe Plantin: ''Thesaurus Theutonicae Linguae'', 1573 * Cornelis Kiliaan: ''Dictionarium Teutonico-Latinum'', 1574 (becoming ''Etymologicum'' with the 1599 3rd edition) Shortly after (1579) the Southern Netherlands came under the dominion of Spain, then of Austria (1713) and of France (1794). The Congress of Vienna created the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815 from which southern Netherlands (being Catholic) seceded in 1830 to form the Kingdom of Belgium, which was confirmed in 1839 by the Treaty of London (1839), Treaty of London. As a result of this political instability no standard Dutch was defined (even though much in demand and recommended as an ideal) until after World War II. Currently the Dutch Language Union, an international treaty organization founded in 1980, supports a standard Dutch in the Netherlands, while Afrikaans is regulated by Die Taalkommissie founded in 1909.


English

Standard English remains a quasi-fictional ideal, despite the numerous private organizations publishing prescriptive rules for it. No language academy was ever established or espoused by any government past or present in the English-speaking world. In practice the British monarchy and its administrations established an ideal of what good English should be considered to be, and this in turn was based on the teachings of the major universities, such as Cambridge University and Oxford University, which relied on the scholars whom they hired. There is a general but far from uniform consensus among the leading scholars about what should or should not be said in standard English, but for every rule examples from famous English writers can be found that break it. Uniformity of spoken English never existed and does not exist now, but usages do exist, which must be learnt by the speakers, and do not conform to prescriptive rules. Usages have been documented not by prescriptive grammars, which on the whole are less comprehensible to the general public, but by comprehensive dictionaries, often termed unabridged, which attempt to list all usages of words and the phrases in which they occur as well as the date of first use and the etymology where possible. These typically require many volumes, and yet not more so than the unabridged dictionaries of many languages. Bilingual dictionaries and glossaries precede modern English and were in use in the earliest written English. The first monolingual dictionary was Robert Cawdrey's ''Table Alphabeticall'' (1604) which was followed by Edward Phillips's ''A New World of English Words'' (1658) and Nathaniel Bailey's ''An Universal Etymological English Dictionary'' (1721). These dictionaries whetted the interest of the English-speaking public in greater and more prescriptive dictionaries until Samuel Johnson published ''Plan of a Dictionary of the English Language'' (1747), which would imitate the dictionary being produced by the French Academy. He had no problem acquiring the funding, but not as a prescriptive dictionary. This was to be a grand comprehensive dictionary of all English words at any period, ''A Dictionary of the English Language'' (1755). By 1858, the need for an update resulted in the first planning for a new comprehensive dictionary to document standard English, a term coined at that time by the planning committee. The dictionary, known as the ''Oxford English Dictionary'', published its first fascicle in 1884. It attracted significant contributions from some singular minds, such as William Chester Minor, a former army surgeon who had become criminally insane and made most of his contributions while incarcerated. Whether the OED is the long-desired standard English Dictionary is debatable, but its authority is taken seriously by the entire English-speaking world. Its staff is currently working on a third edition.


French

Surviving dictionaries are a century earlier than their grammars. The Académie française founded in 1635 was given the obligation of producing a standard dictionary. Some early dictionaries are: * Louis Cruse, alias Garbin: ''Dictionaire latin-françois'', 1487 * Robert Estienne, alias Robertus Stephanus: ''Dictionnaire françois–latin'', 1539 * Maurice de la Porte: ''Epitheta'', 1571 * Jean Nicot: ''Thresor de la langue fracoyse, tant ancienne que moderne'', 1606 * Pierre Richelet: ''Dictionnaire françois contenant les mots et les choses'', 1680 * Académie française: ''Dictionnaire de l’Académie française'', 1694 ''annis''.


German

High German dictionaries began in the 16th century and were at first multi-lingual. They were preceded by glossaries of German words and phrases on various specialized topics. Finally interest in developing a vernacular German grew to the point where Maaler could publish a work called by Jacob Grimm "the first truly German dictionary", Joshua Maaler's ''Die Teutsche Spraach: Dictionarium Germanico-latinum novum'' (1561). It was followed along similar lines by Georg Heinisch: ''Teütsche Sprache und Weißheit'' (1616). After numerous dictionaries and glossaries of a less-than-comprehensive nature came a thesaurus that attempted to include all German, Kaspar Stieler's ''Der Teutschen Sprache Stammbaum und Fortwachs oder Teutschen Sprachschatz'' (1691), and finally the first codification of written German, Johann Christoph Adelung's ''Versuch eines vollständigen grammatisch-kritischen Wörterbuches Der Hochdeutschen Mundart'' (1774–1786). Friedrich Schiller, Schiller called Adelung an ''Orakel'' and Christoph Martin Wieland, Wieland is said to have nailed a copy to his desk.


Italian

In the early 15th century a number of glossaries appeared, such as that of Lucillo Minerbi on Boccaccio in 1535, and those of Fabrizio Luna on Ludovico Ariosto, Ariosto, Petrarch, Petrarca, Boccaccio and Dante in 1536. In the mid-16th the dictionaries began, as listed below. In 1582 the first language academy was formed, called Accademia della Crusca, "bran academy", which sifted language like grain. Once formed, its publications were standard-setting. Monolingual * Alberto Accarisio: ''Vocabolario et grammatica con l'orthographia della lingua volgare'', 1543 * Francesco Alunno: ''Le richezze della lingua volgare'', 1543 * Francesco Alunno: ''La fabbrica del mondo'', 1548 * Giacomo Pergamini: ''Il memoriale della lingua italiana'', 1602 * Accademia della Crusca: ''Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca'', 1612 ItalianFrench * Nathanael Duez : ''Dittionario italiano e francese/Dictionnaire italien et François'', Leiden, 1559–1560 * Gabriel Pannonius: ''Petit vocabulaire en langue françoise et italienne'', Lyon, 1578 * Jean Antoine Fenice : ''Dictionnaire françois et italien'', Paris, 1584 ItalianEnglish * John Florio: ''A Worlde of Words'', London, 1598 * John Florio: ''Queen Anna’s New World of Words'', London, 1611 ItalianSpanish * Cristóbal de las Casas: ''Vocabulario de las dos lenguas toscana y castellana'', Sevilla, 1570 * Lorenzo Franciosini: ''Vocabulario italiano e spagnolo/ Vocabulario español e italiano'', Roma, 1620.


Serbian

* The first vernacular Serbian dictionary was ''Srpski rječnik'' (Serbian dictionary) written by Vuk Karadžić and published in 1818.


Spanish

The first Spanish dictionaries in the 15th century were Latin-Spanish/Spanish-Latin, followed by monolingual Spanish. In 1713 the Real Academia Española, "Royal Spanish Academy," was founded to set standards. It published an official dictionary, 1726–1739. * Alonzo de Palencia: ''El universal vocabulario en latin y romance'', 1490 * Antonio de Nebrija: ''Lexicon latino-hispanicum et hispanico-latinum'', 1492 * Sebastián de Covarrubias Orozco: ''Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española'', 1611 * Real Academia Española: ''Diccionario de la lengua castellana'', 1726–1739


Metaphorical usage

The term "vernacular" may also be applied metaphorically to any cultural product of the lower, common orders of society that is relatively uninfluenced by the ideas and ideals of the educated élite. Hence, vernacular has had connotations of a coarseness and crudeness. "Vernacular architecture", for example, is a term applied to buildings designed in any style based on practical considerations and local traditions, in contrast to the "polite architecture" produced by professionally trained architects to nationally or internationally agreed aesthetic standards. The historian Guy Beiner has developed the study of "vernacular historiography" as a more sophisticated conceptualization of folk history.


See also


References


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

* {{cite web , title=Vernacular Values, url=http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Vernacular.html, last=Illich , author-link=Ivan Illich , access-date=7 November 2009 , publisher=The Preservation Institute * Vernacular (disambiguation) Sociolinguistics Language varieties and styles Linguistics terminology Folklore