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The term vernacular has been in use for about four hundred years. We will examine the meaning of the word vernacular, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The vernacular is the vocabulary, grammar, expressions, idioms and phrases that are spoken by ordinary people, within a given area. Vernacular is used with the word the when used as a noun, as in the vernacular. Vernacular may also be used as an adjective. The vernacular differs from slang, which is language that is used by a particular group and not by all of the ordinary populace.  A vernacular language may also be called a colloquial language. The term vernacular came into use in the very early 1600s, derived from the Latin word vernaculas which means native. Today, except for formal missives such as academic papers, most communication is conducted in the vernacular. However the divide between formal language and the vernacular was especially wide during the Middle Ages, when most official and liturgical business was conducted in Latin. John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, produced the first Bible translated into the English vernacular in the 1380s. The Roman Catholic Church continued to conduct the Mass in Latin until the 1960s.


Like Welsh, Pedersen possesses a keen ear for Scottish vernacular and, as with the best of Welsh’s writing, there are moments of brutal intensity in Oyster. (The Morning Star)

Dated Sept. 3, the document is titled Magnum Principium, meaning “The great principle,” and deals explicitly with two specific changes to Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, which addresses the authority of the Apostolic See and national episcopal conferences in preparing liturgical texts in vernacular languages. (The National Catholic Register)

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