The Latin language spread following the spread of the Roman Empire. This implies that all areas that came under the control of the Roman control embraced Latin as their lingua franca or commonly spoken and written language in the courts and in their daily activities like trade and administration.
Also in those areas that were controlled by the roman emperor, religious ceremonies were conducted by use of the Latin language. The expansion of the Roman Empire meant the widening in the spread of Latin language and the people that were conquered by the Roman Empire and subjugated were assimilated into learning the Latin language and were made to communicate using it (Sayre, 2010).
Just like other languages that were dynamic and often changed in form, Latin was not an exception and it underwent alterations over time. Among the factors that altered the form of Latin was the educational level or the social status of the individuals who spoke Latin and also the infiltration of other languages into the Latin language.
Development of vernacular languages
The promotion of education and literacy all over the world enhanced a rejuvenated the interest of learners. This therefore marked the beginning of vernacular languages, which is defined as the language that is widely spoken by people of a particular nation. The pace of vernacular was first set by the French writers in the 12th century and before the end of the century the French and England had began transacting their businesses and other deliberations on their vernacular language.
The expansion of vernacular languages gained momentum following the efforts of Eleanor of Aquitaine who established the literary movement which was an art center that created poetries written in vernacular language of that time.
The consolidation of monarchies in Europe led to the advancement of vernacular as the main language that could help stir nationalism and the feeling of pride by the people of the monarch. This also created the sense of belonging among the various inhabitants. This marked the success in the growth of vernacular language.
The origination of vernacular language is synonymous with the development of Latin language. Though they existed in the time of Latin, vernacular languages were subordinate to Latin and unlike Latin which was spoken by the high and might, vernacular languages was the language of the subjects. The word vernacular is by itself Latin, the word Verna means a slave born in the house and vernaculus implied the one who was born on the spot (Dobson, 2000).
It is assumed that the dominance of Latin language prevented the growth and the spread of vernacular languages. Vernacular languages were initiated by Joachim de Bellay a poet who started to compose literature in a his native language; this excited the urge of other writers like the Portuguese poet known as Ferreira who with the Zeal and zest for patriotism gave birth to a vernacular language and urged his country men to cultivate it.
The development of French and German was checked by the leaders of the revolution. It was Peter Waldo who first developed the French language. Though he was suppressed and prohibited by the elite class. It is the period of reformation in England, France and Germany that diminished the spread of Latin (Disraeli 2006).
The failure by Latin to express what characterized modern life was what led to the development of French as one of the vernacular language. The record of the emergence of French as a vernacular language is found in the Strasburg oaths of 842 which was inform a treaty sworn.
French as a vernacular language has its origin in the arrival of Julius Caesar in Gaul during the expansion of the Roman Empire. Caesar encountered the Celts in Gaul and some words of the Celtic region are found in the present day French which was later to be known as le Francois and le francais (Schiffman, 1996).
Impact of vernacular languages on culture
The rise of vernacular languages in Europe had several impacts in the countries they colonized. The sphere of influence that was advanced by the European countries had great impact on Africa, Latin America, and Asia. They eroded the cultures of these people and assimilated them into adopting their culture. The development of Latin and vernacular languages led to class segregation in the society. The power elites spoke Latin and the subjects spoke the vernacular since vernacular was considered inferior.
The decline of Latin led to the standardization and adoption of vernacular language as a mode of communication in areas of commerce, religion and government. Another fundamental impact of vernacular language was the fostering of national identity. Vernacular was widely used in the composition of songs and poems. It was also used in literature to pass oral tales.
Since people could sing, speak and write in the same language hence creating oneness and sense of belonging. Vernacular languages therefore brought a great sense of belonging to many nations. This sense of belonging stirred patriotism.
Disraeli, I. (2006). Amenities of literature: consisting of sketches and characters of English literature. New York, NY: Langley.
Dobson, B.R. (2000). Encyclopedia of the middle Ages. New York, NY: Routledge
Sayre, H. M. (2010). Discovering the humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Schiffman, F. H. (1996). Linguistic culture and language policy. New York, NY: Routledge.