The Origins of Vernacular Language and Its Spread

Topics: Lingua franca, French language, Literature Pages: 6 (1448 words) Published: October 19, 2012
The Origins of Vernacular Language and Its Spread

Keturah Lindsey

American Intercontinental University


The term vernacular can be defined as using a language that is native to a country or province, rather than a cultured, foreign, or literary language. The vernacular languages would also be considered as the large family of contemporary “Romance” languages (Matthews, 2007). These vernacular languages would one day be known to use as Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and etc.


Before the twelfth century, Latin was the major language that was used for literature and among the educated. The findings of Latin were influenced by other native languages which included those of Celtic languages, Greek, and Etruscan (University of Calgary, 1996). The Latin language was consistently developed due to the fact there were significant differences during each period. These differences included those in the literary written language, and also due to differences in the spoken language of the educated and those of the less educated populace.


Development of Vernacular Language

In the beginning, Latin was only one of several Italic languages in which all of them belonged to the Indo-European linguistic family, and the development of these languages were influenced by other tongues, including the language known as Celtic, Etruscan and Greek. Like many other languages, Latin language underwent continuous development. During each period of its evolution there were many differences between the literary written language, which was very distinct from the spoken language of the educated versus those of the less educated populace. Within the spoken language, borrowing from other tongues was common at all periods (University of Calgary, 1996).

The development of literature and learning in Latin language was strongly influenced by the Greek, but for people in Western Europe the works of Latin authors had a gigantic range importance. This proved influential were the authors of the Golden Age (from c. 70 BCE to 14 CE), including the prose writers Cicero, Caesar and Livy. It also included the poets Virgil, Ovid and Horace, whose works have become part of a lasting literary and educational heritage that has survived for many centuries. Even after following the spread of Christianity, educated persons, including the Western ("Latin") Fathers of the Church, continuously shared in this heritage (University of Calgary, 1996).

After the Empire between 500-1000, vernacular language was also being used by the peninsula for popular celebrations of religious festivals, improvisational troupes of actors, story-tellers, etc (Matthews, 2007). Unfortunately none of the literature was written down so that it may be handed down to generations. However, although none of the literature was written down early on, there was enough of the literature left around the year 1200 to prove that the common language could be produced into real literature for the common people.

The Spread of Vernacular Language

Vernacular language was first spreaded by the French, which included their literary works, and by the time of the fourteenth century, vernacular works had already made its way through Europe. The shift from the Latin language to vernacular language presents an importance in the interest of courtly literature. During the rise of vernacular language, the woman’s role was not undermined. Reason being is that noble women were the ones to have commission works to be written in or translated into vernacular language, which helped to, preserve history. By the time of the fifteenth century, vernacular language was very well sought out to be the language of literature, historical record and personal expression. However, in the end...

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