By Ashraf Naushahi
Word “vernacular” was first used in the sixteenth century. Since then its usage has been in different meanings and connotations. The most common meaning of the word “vernacular” has been that of a native or local language in any region where a lingua franca is also in use.
However, vernacular is a style among the various styles of a language from which its speakers can opt for any freely, without any conscious consideration. Linguistically, vernacular is non-standard type of a language usually used in common conversations. Some other common and non-standard types are: colloquial, slang, jargon, dialect and accent, etc.
Contrarily, literary language, in which literature should be written, is the standard type of a language. Historically its periods started in different centuries. For instance, literary English language comprises the written language of the seventeenth century and onwards; modern Greek literary language starts from nineteenth century; Persian literary language starts from the eleventh century. It depends on how much a literary language has changed, with comparison to its early language.
Beginning and evolution of a language can be comprehended by studying its literary or standard language. Each and every writing cannot be considered as a part of literature. Literary writings are written skillfully and artistically. Literary expressions contain novelty of thoughts. Literature in any language remains significant and impactful because of a maintained standard or literary language. Sciences have maintained a standard which is the basis of scientific progress. Similarly, literature and language need to maintain a standard for linguistic and literary progress.
Compilation of an encyclopedia or dictionary needs a lot of hard work, yet either is not considered a part of literature. Writings on the topics of knowledge and professional skills are not regarded as literature. Journalism is considered a field different from literature. Advertising is not thought to be a part of literature though it has become an industry with obvious usefulness. Strangely yet, sometimes some writings, not compatible with a standard or literary language, are considered to be literature only because written in the form of poem, story, fiction or novel. It affects language and literature negatively in this age of sciences which do not neglect standards.
Language and literature are as important and useful as sciences, when literary standards are maintained. All scientific works are expressed in some language. It doesn’t matter much which language is being used for expression, education or any other work, what matters much is the standard of the language used. In education, a balance is needed for imparting knowledge impartially. A civilized and enlightened narrative is essential for a literary work. Teaching is not the job of literature, however, a literary narrative should be capable of raising the awareness and comprehending level of its reader.
By: Ashraf Naushahi