Literary language  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A literary language is a register of a language that is used in literary writing. This may also include liturgical writing. The difference between literary and non-literary (vernacular) forms is more marked in some languages than in others. Where there is a strong divergence, the language is said to exhibit diglossia.

Literary English

For much of its history, there has been a distinction in the English language between an elevated literary language and a colloquial idiom. After the Norman conquest of England, for instance, Latin and French displaced English as the official and literary languages, and standardized literary English did not emerge until the end of the Middle Ages. At this time and into the Renaissance, the practice of aureation (the introduction of terms from classical languages, often through poetry) was an important part of the reclamation of status for the English language, and many historically aureate terms are now part of general common usage. Modern English no longer has quite the same distinction between literary and colloquial registers.

English has been used as a literary language in countries that were formerly part of the British Empire, for instance in India up to the present day, Malaysia in the early 20th century and Nigeria, where English remains the official language.

Written in Early Modern English, the King James Bible and works by William Shakespeare from the 17th century are defined as prototype mediums of literary English and are taught in advanced English classes. Furthermore, many literary words that are used today are found in abundance in the works of Shakespeare and as well as in King James Bible, hence the literary importance of early modern English in contemporary English literature and English studies.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Literary language" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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