Language has been a way for all to interact with everyone. It has been used to keep ideas, emotions, laws and social correctness intact for all cultures. Latin was the original language that was used to communicate amongst all cultures. Now societies today used a variety of vernacular languages such as, Spanish, Italian and English. In many cultures knowing more than one language is considered a high value.
All aspects of culture, society and education were impacted during the Medieval times by the use of Latin. Until the 12th century the Roman Empire used Latin strictly as its language of choice until the Empire began to fall. The Roman Empire rule was very prominent in the Western World. When the Empire began to fall around 1200 A.D. the use of Latin went away with the end of the Roman rule. The beginning of vernacular languages started in the areas farthest away from the control of Roman rule. Slowly the use of Latin became obsolete and vernacular language was developing rapidly. Before the end of the Latin language, it was used mostly by writers and scholars. The development of Latin was influenced by other native languages which included Celtic languages, Greek, and Etruscan (University of Calgary, 1996). The Latin language continued to change and modified itself due to significant changes during each period.
These changes affected the written language and the way it was spoken in both high society and the lower end that included the less educated. Alfred the Great was a powerful influence on vernacular language. He wrote many books in English while in control. Some of the books that he wrote in English yet had Latin roots were Beowulf and Angelo Saxton Chronicles. This benefited both the upper and lower classes of society since your status determined what language you spoke. Higher society spoke Latin but also read English and lower society spoke and read strictly English. The leaders of the spread of vernacular language were the French. Some of the well-known 12th century works done by French writers are, Song of Roland and Chreiten de Troyes’s Lancelot (Sayre, 2013). Romantic writings in France were primarily written in vernacular language. Most of these love/romantic stories, love songs or poems were introduced my musicians that traveled and wrote about their journeys along the way.
By doing this they were passed around by word of mouth and eventually written down. The story of Charlemagne is one of the oldest dating back to the 12th century (Sayre, 2013). In Germany, the vernacular language dates back to the 12th century as well. After many attempts to convert from Latin to what would be known today as German, it eventually caught and became accepted around the 18th century. In Europe, vernacular languages begin to become popular during the early 14th century. This is proven in manuscripts. The proper use of grammar and spelling was not a traditional literacy. When it finally became a standard different dialects of local communities began to develop so that others in the same region to speak and understand what was spoken and written.
The impact that vernacular language had on cultures during the 12th to even the early 18th century was a foundation to language today. With the fall of the Roman Empire, German, English and French languages were to first to develop. With the start to these three languages the Latin language became decreasingly less popular and harder for more people to read and understand to communicate with. This meant that fewer people were educated using the Latin language and were not literate in it. As countries further developed vernacular language, their political influence relied less and less on Latin as the accepted language of the courts. Thus, the language that was spoken and used in the government became vernacular. In conclusions, the way vernacular language changed cultures around the globe comes down to two simple words: stability and equality.
With the demise of Latin being the primary language of all and the beginnings of vernacular language, people were able to communicate better, write better and understand better. This brought stability to the writings and poems of that time. Equality made is so that vernacular language was taught to everyone regardless of their social status. Women had the chance to learn to read and be literate. It helped to create national identities within countries and nations. All political parties from around the world communicated using vernacular language; as simple as a sermons that was given in churches was affected. Everyone had the opportunity to learn the new style of language and better themselves.
Sayre, H.M. (2013) Discovering the Humanities, (2nd ed). Upper Saddle River,
NJ: Pearson University of Calgary. (1996). “Latin and Vernacular Languages.”
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