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Vulgar Latin

Related: vulgar - Latin


Vulgar Latin (in Latin, sermo vulgaris) is a blanket term covering the vernacular dialects of the Latin language spoken mostly in the western provinces of the Roman Empire until those dialects, diverging still further, evolved into the early Romance languages - a distinction usually assigned to about the ninth century.

This spoken Latin differed from the literary language of classical Latin in its pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Some features of Vulgar Latin did not appear until the late Empire. Other features are likely to have been in place in spoken Latin, in at least its basilectal forms, much earlier. Most definitions of "vulgar Latin" mean that it is a spoken language, rather than a written language, because the evidence suggests that spoken Latin broke up into divergent dialects during this period, and because no one phonetically transcribed the daily speech of any Latin speakers during the period in question, students of vulgar Latin must study it through indirect methods.

Our knowledge of Vulgar Latin comes from three chief sources. First, the comparative method can reconstruct the underlying forms from the attested Romance languages, and note where they differ from classical Latin. Second, various prescriptive grammar texts from the late Latin period condemn linguistic errors that Latin users were likely to commit, providing insight into how Latin speakers used their language. Finally, the solecisms and non-Classical usages that occasionally are found in late Latin texts also shed light on the spoken language of the writer. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgar_Latin [Dec 2004]

Vernacular literature

Vernacular literature is literature written in the vernacular - the speech of the common people.

In the European tradition, this effectively means literature not written in Latin. In this context, vernacular literature appeared during the Middle Ages and it is widely accepted that the earliest European vernacular literature was written in Irish.

The Italian poet Dante Alighieri, in his De vulgari eloquentia, was possibly the first European writer to argue cogently for the promotion of literature in the vernacular. Important early vernacular works include Dante's Divine Comedy, Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron (both written in Italian) and Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (written in English).

By extension, the term is also used to describe, for example, Chinese literature not written in classical Chinese and Indian literature after Sanskrit. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernacular_literature [May 2005]

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