Vernacular, In contrast with lingua franca

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Summary

A vernacular or vernacular language is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, especially as distinguished from a literary, national or standard language, or a lingua franca used in the region or state inhabited by that population.

Details

In general linguistics, a vernacular is contrasted with a lingua franca, a third-party language in which persons speaking different vernaculars not understood by each other may communicate. For instance, in Western Europe until the 17th century, most scholarly works had been written in Latin, which was serving as a lingua franca. Works written in Romance languages are said to be in the vernacular. The Divina Commedia, the Cantar de mio Cid, and The Song of Roland 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.

In religion, Protestantism was a driving force in the use of the vernacular in Christian Europe, the Bible being translated from Latin into vernacular languages with such works as the Bible in Dutch: published in 1526 by Jacob van Liesvelt; Bible in French: published in 1528 by Jacques Lefevre d’Étaples (or Faber Stapulensis); German Luther Bible in 1534 (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, published in 1611. Bible in Slovene, published in 1584 by Jurij Dalmatn. In Catholicism, vernacular bibles were later provided, but Latin was used at Tridentine Mass until the Second Vatican Council of 1965. Certain groups, notably Traditionalist Catholics, continue to practice Latin Mass.

In India, the 12th century Bhakti movement led to the translation of Sanskrit texts to the vernacular.

In science, an early user of the vernacular was Galileo, writing in Italian c. 1600, though some of his works remained in Latin. A later example is Isaac Newton, whose 1687 Principia was in Latin, but whose 1704 Opticks was in English. Latin continues to be used in certain fields of science, notably binomial nomenclature in biology, while other fields such as mathematics use vernacular; see scientific nomenclature for details.

In diplomacy, French displaced Latin in Europe in the 1710s, due to the military power of 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 and Chinese language. In the 1920s, due to the May Fourth Movement, Classical Chinese was replaced by written vernacular Chinese.

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