Podcast vernacular

Printable Version
Pronunciation: vêr--kyu-lêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The colloquial or spoken language as distinguished from the written literary language. 2. A regional or professional dialect, such as the vernacular of the Pennsylvania Dutch or the vernacular of a used car salesman. 3. Style, as the architectural vernacular of Western US buildings.

Notes: Today's word is the one you want to use in referring to the ordinary spoken language as opposed to the formal written language, as the English vernacular of Long Island. The noun expressing the nature of a vernacular is vernacularity, as the vernacularity (use of vernacular) detectable in someone's writing. A word or expression that is used only in a vernacular is a vernacularism, as 'hood for neighborhoods is a Black English vernacularism.

In Play: This word is, first and foremost, a somewhat more poetic synonym of dialect: "Vernon, you've been living here in Corncob Hollow so long you are beginning to pick up the vernacular." However, vernaculars also distinguish professions: "In police vernacular an arrest is a collar, so when Preston said his partner had a dirty collar yesterday, it was no reflection on Preston's wife."

Word History: Vernacular is an English adaptation of the Latin vernaculus "indigenous, domestic, native" from verna "a native, a slave born in the master's home", a word probably borrowed from Etruscan. It doesn't seem to be related to vernal "spring", as in vernal flowers or the vernal equinox. This word is based on an older Latin word, ver "spring". Beyond this, the origins of today's Good Word lies in a cloud of mystery that makes an Indo-European source highly unlikely. (Terri Watson, who speaks the vernacular of Georgia and a "Huny" of a contributor to our Alpha Agora, kindly suggested today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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