In 1919 in an essay entitled Tradition and the Individual Talent T. S. Eliot stated that a poet “is not likely to know what is to be done unless he lives in what is not merely the present, but the present moment of the past, unless he is conscious, not of what is dead, but of what is already living”. The paper will investigate the idea of tradition intended as 'matière vivante', as an operative tool used in architectural practice. A tradition, whose epistemology can be achieved through the analysis of what I call linguistic contamination. It is through this analogous action, made by one element over another on a morphological or semantic level, that tradition "moves" regenerating its forms and meanings. This approach allow to liberate the classical concept of tradition from its historical, time-bounded limits and to consider it in a new dynamic way. Tradition can be recognised in the survival of "architectural constants" ferried from the past to the present, sometimes remodelled and sometimes deformed under the flux of progress and change. The epistemic exercise will focus on the identification of the different kinds of contaminations which have occurred between vernacular architecture and modern architecture. The way in which a lexicon of the past has been used in a language whose syntax is yet new, will be investigated through some case studies from modern and contemporary times.