This article explores the remarkable shift toward new literate uses of vernacular languages in the early modern Ottoman empire.
It argues that this vernacularization occurred independently of Western European (and, more specifically, German romantic)
influences. It explores, first, how vernacular languages like modern Greek, Armenian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Kurdish,
and Albanian acquired a new status as a medium of high literature and learning; second, it argues that this process was accompanied
by the equally novel phenomenon of writing vernacular grammars, which promoted vernaculars as both an object of knowledge
and an object of governmental concern. Thus, the early modern Ottoman empire sees both a vernacularization and the governmentalization
of language. Similar patterns, it will be argued, can be found in early modern German, Russian, and Urdu, without any one
language or region clearly being the sole origin or cause of this process. Hence, this wave of virtually simultaneous vernacularizations
poses new questions for theories of modern nationalism and of the role of the modern humanities in them.