vernacular – If you look this word up in someone else's dictionary, it will be defined as "written or expressed using plain, everyday language, especially the native language of a place." The antithesis to the vernacular is usually the literary: the formal language found in books. We used the term to help describe Mark Twain's achievement in Huckleberry Finn: the way Huck's vernacular voice helps emancipate our literature from the way characters like Emmeline (in her poetry) and Tom (in his mournful inscriptions for Jim) employ a language they acquired from the imported (usually British) books they read. The term will come up again when we get to Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and its use of ordinary African American language to express African American experience. College students are often still in the place American literature was in during the 19th century, and African American literature until very recently: feeling as if there is a certain way they are "supposed to sound" when they write a paper – not so much like an English book as like an English major. In your essays for this class, I hope you'll feel free to use the vernacular yourselves, free to express your ideas in your own voice.