What is the vernacular?

The Vernacular Refers to the common language and are the words we use to have a casual conversation with our brothers, friends or family.

This speech includes obscenities and slang words. Vernacular language is also a specific language designed to help us communicate.

Mafalda latin vernacula

Lawyers and doctors have their own language , Like the cinephiles. However, the use of the vernacular is everywhere; In schools, in university courses, in the home, in the offices, in the law, in medicine and in the media.

In fact, language is a starting point for any literary work. This type of speech in particular is one of the literary techniques that can reach a great connection with most people, creating a strong bond between them because it is closer to their daily conversation.

In addition, the dialogues and phrases often reinforce the scenario of a narration, and add depth creating a sense of realism to the readers.

On the other hand, with the rise of the humanist authors, they were recovered and shaped in the literature the vernacular languages ​​of the Renaissance.

In this sense, in all cultures there has been a linguistic discrimination where only expressed expressions or specific languages ​​(as in Latin), used in literature even when the common people did not speak.

Brief history of the vernacular

The vernacular languages ​​are the result of the interaction of many cultures that are influencing the language. For example of the Celtic languages, we incorporate into our language the following words: rock, doll, butter, blood sausage, porridge, bacon, beer and bat.

There are also iberismos such as: rabbit, calf, tick. From the Phoenician we adopt the following words: names like Elisa, Emmanuel and the words vaca and Cádiz. Of the Basque: Scrap, slate, avalanche.

To general traits, the Romans before the 3rd century BC, influenced and enriched our Spanish language when in that century invaded Hispania contributing vulgar Latin.

Shortly afterwards, the Visigoths began a slow process of linguistic fragmentation that resulted in the different Spanish dialects

Late in the year, the Arabs in 711 D.C dominated the entire Iberian Peninsula (minus the northern mountains) contributing approximately 4 thousand Arabs.

Some examples of words that we were adopting in our daily language are: carpet, watchtower, oil, olive, basil, mason, mayor, culvert, alcove. And among others; Alcohol, alfalfa, algebra (arithmetic), cotton, hopefully (if Allah wills).

In the low middle age, Antonio de Nebrija wrote Castilian grammar, being the first of a vulgar language. Juan de Valdés, in his Dialogue of the language (1535), expresses the importance of the philosophical heritage in saying:

"All men are more obliged to illustrate and enrich the language that is natural to us and that we suck on the tits of our mothers, not the one that is catchy and that we learn in books"

During the Modern Age, with the conquest of America, Castilian begins to be called Spanish and is enriched with indigenous words such as: cocuyo, hummingbird, daiquiri, hammock, hurricane, henequen, iguana, caribbean, tobacco, peanuts.

As for the Africans, we adopt the words: Bomba, candungo, cocolo, Cocoroco, burundanga, abombarse, fufú, funche, chévere, dengue, anamú

And of the Anglo-Saxons we adopt words like parkear, relax, dron, ok, gufear, among many others.

Vernacular literature

The vernacular is a literary genre that uses the language used daily in writing and speaking.

It is different from written works, since they normally follow the formal variety of language. The word"vernacular"refers to the writing or speaking of the public.

We find the origin of vernacular literature during the Middle Ages in different countries of Europe. In fact, Latin was the language of historical documents, religion, and the common people did not even speak it in medieval Europe as well as the Sanskrit language in India.

However, vernacular writers diverged from formal tendencies by writing in the language of ordinary people like Dante, Geoffrey Chaucer and Mark Twain. In this line, Dante Alighieri Was the first to use vernacular language in his famous epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio among other humanists rescued the ancient languages ​​to communicate their ideas, but at the same time considered that the vernacular languages ​​were an effective vehicle to transmit the knowledge and at the same time to cultivate the sciences.

The poet Dante Alighieri wrote in Latin De vulgari eloquentia (On the vulgar language) in order to exalt the everyday Italian speech, which did not consider a static language, but on the contrary, a language that evolved and needed to be contextualized in history.

Vernacular versus dialect language

In turn vernacular language is the use of ordinary, everyday and clear locutions in speaking or writing whereas the dialect is related to a particular region, geographical area, particular social class or occupational group.

In addition, it uses a distinguished pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, as the inhabitants of Shanghai that have a different pronunciation in their dialect than in Yunnan.

Slang versus vernacular

The difference between slang and vernacular language is that slang is a secret language used by various groups (including, but not limited to, thieves and other criminals) to prevent outsiders from understanding their conversations. On the other hand, the vernacular language is the language of a village or a national language.

The jargon

Jargon is a terminology that is defined especially in relation to a specific activity, profession, group or event.

Vernacular languages ​​and education

It is very important to take into account that the language that is learned in childhood, constitutes the main cultural feature of a person, is also an inherited cultural feature that ends up being part of people's habits.

The native language is worthy of being preserved and we must bear in mind that the language evolves from generation to generation undergoing modifications in pronunciation and vocabulary to begin to be used by all members of a community and country.

In order to maintain the cultural features of our language, it is important that it be transmitted in schools, which must incorporate into their teaching system the speeches that are used in the daily life of a society in a given region.


  1. Literarydevices.net. Definition of Vernacular. 28-1-2017, from LiteraryDevices Website. Excerpted from: literarydevices.net.
  2. Stackexchange.com. (2013). Argot vs. Jargon. 28-1-2017, from Linguistics beta Extract from: linguistics.stackexchange.com.
  3. Mata Induráin, C. (2012). Humanism and the defense of vernacular languages. 28-1-2017, from WordPress.com. Excerpted from: nsulabaranaria.wordpress.com.
  4. Unesco.org. (1954). Use of vernacular languages ​​in teaching. 28-1-2017, UNESCO Unesdoc.unesco.org.

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