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Vernacular Languages

In: Historical Events

Submitted By LNFleshman
Words 793
Pages 4
Lakari Fleshman

Unit 2 Individual Project

Topics in Cultural Studies

HUMA215-1301A-36

Vernacular language is native of a particular group, region or country; mainly spoken as opposed to written. Until the 12th century, Latin was the language used among the educated and within literature. It is no surprise that Latin had such an impact on the medieval world. Latin owes its dominance to the rise of the Roman Empire from several hundred years B.C. to its demise around 1200 A.D. All through the time that it reigned supreme, Rome exported not only its values, architecture, law and art, but also its language.
When the empire began to fall, the Latin language began to lose its hold on the people of Europe and
North Africa. Since the empire began shrinking as early as the eighth and ninth century it is not surprising that the people living furthest from Rome itself were the first to undergo a cultural and ethnic revival, an integral part of this revival would be the use of their own vernacular language rather than the use of Latin.

Latin became widely spread with the expansion of the Roman Empire. Latin eventually became the dominant the dominant language in the western half of the Empire. There were several Italic languages all belonging to the Indo-European linguistic family, Latin was among languages and its development was influenced by other tongues, including Celtic, Etruscan and Greek languages. All languages undergo development and changes and in each period of its evolution, significant differences between the written and spoken languages of the educated and not so educated people became much more noticeable. In all periods of time, borrowing from other tongues was quite common in the spoken languages. The Greeks strongly influenced the development of literature and learning in Latin, but for Western Europe the works of Latin authors had serious long-range importance.

Authors of the Golden Age, including Cicero, Caesar, Ovid and Horace, created works that became part of a lasting literacy and educational heritage that survived many long years. Following the spread of
Christianity, educated persons, including the Western Fathers of the Church, continued to share the history. The Western Church chose Latin as their primary language well before Christianity emerged as the dominant religion in the Roman world. Particularly important in the formation of Western, Latin
Christianity was the translation, largely by St. Jerome, of the New and Old Testament into Latin. This version of the scriptures became the authorative text for the Western Church, known as the Vulgate. Latin also became the liturgical language of the Western Church and until recent times remained the means of exchange and communication within the Church. (The Applied History Research Group, 1997)

Political stability achieved by the successes of the feudal aristocracy created an increased demand for literacy and education that lead to an actual revival which hastened the decline of Latin as a living language. Readers were now asking for literature that reflected the interests and virtues of the ruling military class opposed to classical Latin and patristic writings. Chivalric literature of the High Middle
Ages was built on traditions of an earlier time, incorporating the ancient troops of heroic literature sung by courtly bards. New written forms of vernacular languages developed that were loosely based on the oral vernacular languages. As these new written forms were similar to the spoken languages in everyday use, they were easily assimilated and the use of vernacular languages rapidly expanded in virtually all areas, thus making written works accessible to higher proportions of local populations.

Assisted by the rise of vernacular languages was the increased nationalism that resulted from the consolidation of monarchies in the later Middle Ages. The sharing of a common language no longer enhanced the sense of European unity and, while Latin remained the international language of formal politics, government and legal documents began to be written in the vernacular as early as the late twelfth century in England and France. The movable-type printing press was another factor in the ultimate success of vernacular languages over Latin. Some scholars regarded the printing press as the single most important factor in ending the Middle Ages and bringing about the Renaissance, while some only conceded that the printing press simply accelerated changes that were already underway. The success of the movable-type printing press owes much to associated advancements in metallurgy, relief printing, printers ink, paper quality and printing press mechanisms which all contributed to the new process. (“University of calgony”, 1997) References
The Applied History Research Group (1996). University of calgary. Retrieved from http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/firsteuro/lang.html
University of calgary. (1997). Retrieved from http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/endmiddle/bluedot/vernacular.html

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