Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 22:43:54 -0600 From: "Donald M. Lance" Subject: Re: vernacular >The definitions in the two dictionaries are similar although not >necessarily in the same order: Merriam dictionaries use historical order, and Random Housee dictonaries use most common order. >As to the point about the level of variation, I remember that >William Labov claimed in the 70s that the "ordinary" language (or >dialect) was more regular, less variable, than the language of >the professional (or the middle class, or whatever). He stressed >this point in a lecture presented on our campus in 1976. The term 'vernacular' is also used by scholars in the field of material culture, as in 'vernacular architecture'. It has negative value only to people who would consider shotgun houses or T- or L-houses built by lay carpenters not to be worthy of scholarly attention. Similar to the conditions under which negative values are assigned to 'vernacular language'. "In the vernacular" is a way of putting down usages that are associated with lack of education. AS for regularity. An individual vernacular-only user might have less variation in his/er language use than an educated "standard"-language-user. I suspect this is what Labov was referring to. But if we look at variation in vernacular(s) used in a community of any size, there might very well be much more variation than we see in TIME Magazine, though TIME likes to use cutesy vernacular vocabulary in sections dealing with pop culture. Certainly more variation in vernacular tense-aspect forms than in standard, I should think.