European Vernacular Literacy A Sociolinguistic and Historical Introduction Author: Joshua A Fishman

Hardback - 104 pages
Related Formats:
28 Jun 2010
New Perspectives on Language and Education
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


In this major new text, Joshua Fishman charts the rise of vernacular literacy in Europe, and the major social, economic, religious, political, demographic, educational and philosophical changes that attended it. Following the story up until the present day, the book examines the people who became leaders of the growth of vernacular literacy in Europe, and looks at how European colonizers viewed vernacular literacy efforts in their current and former colonies. Looking forward, Fishman discusses how new technology affects vernacular literacy both now and in the present, and whether developments in voice and visual media mean that vernacular literacy will be less important to future generations than it is to us. ‘European Vernacular Literacy’ is not only a review of well-known facts and theories of the rise of vernacular literacy in Europe, but an attempt to reintegrate and rethink them along new and provocative lines, meaning that the book will be of interest not only to students of literacy and history but also to scholars interested in Fishman’s latest contribution to sociolinguistics.


Filled with both enormous erudition and plain commonsense, this book makes a ground-breaking contribution to our understandings of the development and importance of vernacular literacy. But beyond the innovative topic of the book, Joshua A. Fishman expands here on an original historical-macrosociolinguistic theoretical approach of 'predicting the past' that, as he says for literacy, 'vivifies the dead and freezes the lively.'

- Ofelia García, Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

Here we are treated to a reflective exploration by a grand master of sociolinguistics on a topic of both historic and contemporary importance. In inimitable style, Fishman draws on his encyclopedic knowledge of European language history to bring to life both social factors and social actors involved in the spread of vernacular literacies.

- Nancy H. Hornberger, University of Pennsylvania, USA

This book will be interesting to anyone interested in European history, literacy, and language development.

- Ken Decker, SIL International

Author Biography:

Joshua A. Fishman is retired Emeritus Distinguished University Research Professor (Yeshiva University and Stanford University) and a frequent award recipient, lecturer, and publisher. He is also the co-founder of the field of sociolinguistics and founding editor of The International Journal of the Sociology of Language.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Text

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