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Vernacular literature is literature written in the vernacular - the speech of the "common people".

In the European tradition, this effectively means literature not written in Latin. In this context, vernacular literature appeared during the Middle Ages; among the earliest European vernacular literature include Irish literature, Welsh literature, Anglo-Saxon literature and Gothic literature.

The Italianmarker poet Dante Alighieri, in his De vulgari eloquentia, was possibly the first European writer to argue cogently for the promotion of literature in the vernacular. Important early vernacular works include Dante's Divine Comedy, Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron (both in Italian), John Barbour's The Brus (in Scots), Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (in English) and Jacob van Maerlant's Spieghel Historiael (in Middle Dutch). Indeed Dante's work actually created in part the Italian language.

By extension, the term is also used to describe, for example, Chinese literature not written in classical Chinese and Indianmarker literature after Sanskrit.

Similarly, in Hindu culture, traditionally religious or scholarly works were written in Sanskrit long after its use as a spoken language. With the rise of the bhakti movement from the 1100s onwards, religious works started being created in Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and many other Indian languages thorought the different regions of India. For example, the Ramayana, one of Hinduism's sacred epics in Sanskrit had vernacular versions such asRamacharitamanasa, a Hindi version of the Ramayana by the 16th century poet Tulsidas and Kambaramayanam by the poet, Kamban in Tamil.

The term is applied to works not written in the standard and/or prestige language of their time and place. For example, many authors in Scotland, such as James Kelman and Edwin Morgan have used Scots, even though English is now the prestige language of publishing in Scotlandmarker. Ngugi wa Thiongo writes in his native Gikuyu language though he previously wrote in English. Some authors have written in invented vernacular; examples of such novels include the futuristic literary novels A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and Boxy an Star by Daren King.

In the Philippinesmarker, the term means any written literature in a language other than Filipino (or Tagalog) or English. At present, it forms the second largest corpus of literature, following the literature in Tagalog. During the Hispanic Colonisation, when Filipino was not yet existing as a national lingua franca, literature in this type flourished. Aside from religious literature, such as the Passiong Mahal (the Passion of Our Lord), zarzuelas were also produced using the vernacular languages


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