Until The Twelfth Century, Latin Was The Language Used Among The Educated And Within Literature.

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Until the twelfth century, Latin was the language used among the educated and within literature.  Research and report on the origins of vernacular language, and its spread. Assess and evaluate the impacts the spread of vernacular languages on cultures during this period.

Please cite any web sources if any.  Thank you.

            Latin had a very large impact on the medieval ways. Latin became prominent when the Roman Empire rose until its fall in 1200 A.D. For very many years it was dominating the western world. The Latin language spread wherever the Roman Empire ruled. Around 1200 A.D. the empire began to fall and the Latin language began to fade. The people farthest away began to undergo the changes first and the ethical renewal began. Many individuals choose to use their vernacular language rather than Latin.

            In England they returned to old English with great influence from Alfred the Great. While in power he had written many books in old English; including many religious pieces. Beowulf and the Anglo Saxton Chronicles are also examples of literature written in old English. These pieces incorporated Latin characters. The English had many vernaculars during this time period. Your vernacular language depended on you social class. Lower classes tended to speak English.

Traveling entertainers and many judicial situations utilized the vernacular in spoken form in France. A large percentage of the vernacular in France was romance; which stemmed from individuals jotting down stories as they were told by musicians that were passing through. Some of the oldest pieces date back to Charlemagne during the twelfth century.

Germany used vernacular as early as the eighth century. Many attempts made to convert failed and was not accepted. During the 12th century many of the French stories had been translated in to the German language and the language caught on.

By the 14th century the vernacular was being adopted in most parts of Europe.  Although spelling and grammar were not standardized yet, there was a sufficient literary tradition to ensure that eventual standardization would occur and that people from various dialects would be able to read a common language and understand each other.


The vernacular had a huge impact on culture during the 10th – 14th century.  As the Latin language died out there were three possible outcomes.  Either fewer and fewer people would be literate and would by default hold power over those who couldn’t, everyone would need to learn to read and write Latin even though it’s political influence was non-existent, or the vernacular language would be adopted and standardized to serve not only as the spoken language but also the language or religion, commerce and government.

Poets and authors during this time period viewed themselves as conduits of knowledge.  They realized that they were transmitting ancient knowledge into the language of the common folk.  In many cases they were not as concerned about the end product of their work as they were about the process of bringing that work into a form that the common people could understand and enjoy.  As they translated works of Plato, Aristotle, Priscian  as well as the history of the Roman Empire from the Latin, they received more enjoyment over the fact that their readers would be using the vernacular than that their readers would adopt the philosophy of Plato or understand the conquests of the empire. 



Undoubtedly, the greatest impact that the vernacular had on a people was that it resulted in the creation of a national identity.  The vernacular went from being used in songs and tall tales to being used in all aspects of life.  As people read the same language in church, in politics, in literature and in economics they began to not only read and think as a group but also to dream and imagine as a group.  When people would get together the words that they had read in church or in political pamphlets were common to all and were in all of their minds.  This allowed them to enjoy an intellectual common ground on which to build the foundations of a possible national identity.




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