Post-vernacular languages

In an article I read today – Sustaining languages: An interview with Peter Austin, I came across an interesting idea – post-vernacular languages.

A vernacular language is one you use in your everyday life, while a post-vernacular language is one you may not want to use in your daily life and as means of communication, but may learn to connect or reconnect with your heritage, culture and heritage, for fun, out of interest, or for other reasons.

An example given in the article is of Jewish people in the USA who use English as their everyday language, but decide to learn some Yiddish as it was the language of their parents or grandparents. Some may just learn a few words and phrases, others may learn more of the language, but few will use it as a vernacular language.

Here is an interesting video which discusses the status of Yiddish as a post-vernacular language:

There is also a book which discuss the phenomenon: Adventures in Yiddishland: Postvernacular Language and Culture by Jeffrey Shandler

My learning and use of languages is mostly post-vernacular – I learn them mainly for fun and out of interest, and while I do sometimes use them to communicate with others, that isn’t necessarily my primary goal. I have used languages in a vernacular way when living in other countries, and I do currently life in Wales, in an area where the majority of people speak Welsh, and I use Welsh quite often, though not necessarily every day.

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