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Traditional architecture is architecture is passed down from person to person, generation to generation, particularly orally, but at any level of society, not just by common people.

Vernacular architecture can be contrasted against polite architecture which is characterized by stylistic elements of design intentionally incorporated for aesthetic purposes which go beyond a building's functional requirements.This article also covers, where somewhere between the two extremes yet based upon authentic themes the term traditional architecture.The term vernacular is derived from the Latin vernaculus, meaning "domestic, native, indigenous"; from verna, meaning "native slave" or "home-born slave".Vernacular architecture is an architectural style that is designed based on local needs, availability of construction materials and reflecting local traditions.At least originally, vernacular architecture did not use formally-schooled architects, but relied on the design skills and tradition of local builders.

However, since the late 19th century many professional architects have worked in versions of this style.

It tends to evolve over time to reflect the environmental, cultural, technological, economic, and historical context in which it exists.

The word probably derives from an older Etruscan word.

In linguistics, vernacular refers to language use particular to a time, place or group.

In architecture, it refers to that type of architecture which is indigenous to a specific time or place (not imported or copied from elsewhere). The terms vernacular, folk, traditional, and popular architecture are sometimes used synonymously.

However, Allen Noble wrote a lengthy discussion of these terms in Traditional Buildings: A Global Survey of Structural Forms and Cultural Functions where he presents scholarly opinions that folk building or folk architecture is built by "...persons not professionally trained in building arts..."; where vernacular architecture is still of the common people but may be built by trained professionals such as through an apprenticeship, but still using local, traditional designs and materials.