The Origins of Vernacular Language and Its Spread

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 vernacular language was often subjected to be standardized. The possibility of vernacular language being able to rise and spread was because many people did not speak Latin, not even the noble men.

Vernacular language was eventually used over Latin, because it made it easier to convert people to Christianity. Technological advances, also helped spread vernacular language and lead to an increase in literacy rates were found to be essential. There were different factors behind the rise of vernacular language. The dream to spread Christianity, the desire of women to take part in cultural debates and the technological advances are only three of the many factors that made it possible for vernacular language to overtake the Latin language.

A subsequent standardization of vernacular language is a said to be a logical consequence. Factor One: Spread Christianity Because the desire to make Christianity available for the broad population was so greatly desired, it is one of the important factors for the rise of vernacular language. Since monks were more versed in the studies of vernacular language, as well as science and the bible they were typically the ones who created an alphabet to translate the Latin bible into vernacular language.

As soon as Christian readings and teachings were available in the vernacular language, it became much easier to convert people to Christianity (Bouchard, 2004). Even though vernacular language was used more than the Latin language, there was still a debate over whether or not religious services should be held in Latin or in vernacular language. This debate became one of the focal points of the Reformation in the sixteenth century (Slavitt, 1999). Factor Two: Women Wanting to Take Part As stated before, the role of women during the rise of vernacular language hould also have been not be undermined, as it was those noble women who had commissioned works to be written in or translated to vernacular language, which had helped preserved history (McCash, 2008). Even though schools were on the rise, that is at least for wealthy boys, the main subject remained Latin and although girls of the same social class was taught to read and identify Latin, they unfortunately did not learn its grammar or its true meaning (Orme, 2006). Therefore, when women decided they wanted to participate in cultural debates, they had to do so in vernacular language (McCash, 2008).

Do to the fact that women did not know the true meaning and grammar of the Latin language, vernacular language was able to empowered women and lead them towards greater freedom of expression and by the fifteenth century, writings by women were no longer viewed as odd (McCash, 2008). Factor Three: Technological Advances In order for vernacular language to keep rising advances in technology and the import of papermaking techniques were important (Slavitt, 1999). The invention of movable letters and a printing process by Gutenberg allowed for mass production which was important for the spread of vernacular language as well.

Literary works were faster and easier to make because of the printing process (Chappell, 2011). The Bible, was the first book printed by Gutenberg and to no surprise it was written in vernacular. The literacy rate prospered due to the technological advance, since anyone who could speak the vernacular language could learn how to read and write in it as well (Slavitt, 1999). (Slavitt, 1999). Going into the fifteenth century, vernacular language was well over established as the main language of literature, personal expression and historical record (McCash, 2008).

Latin, did remain as an important language for official proceedings and science as it was considered to be safe from change (Vincze, 2009).

The rise and spread of vernacular language was very much so possible because many people did not speak the Latin language. Vernacular language was able to thrive because of the various factors. Many languages from other countries that we hear and for some speak today come from the vernacular language.