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Encyclopedia > Old French
Old French
Spoken in: northern France, parts of Belgium and Switzerland
Language extinction: evolved into Middle French by the 14th century
Language family: Indo-European
 Italic
  Romance
   Italo-Western
    Western
     Gallo-Iberian
      Gallo-Romance
       Gallo-Rhaetian
        Oïl
         Old French
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: fro
ISO 639-3:

Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories corresponding roughly to the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from around 1000 to 1300. It was known at the time as the langue d'oïl to distinguish it from the langue d'oc (also then called Provençal) which bordered these areas to the south. An extinct language is a language which no longer has any native speakers, in contrast to a dead language, which is is a language which has stopped changing in grammar, vocabulary, and the complete meaning of a sentence. ... Middle French (French: ) is a historical division of the French language which covers the period from (roughly) 1340 to 1611 [1]. It is a period of transition during which: the French language becomes clearly distinguished from the other competing Oïl languages which are sometimes subsumed within the concept of... This 14th-century statue from south India depicts the gods Shiva (on the left) and Uma (on the right). ... A language family is a group of languages related by descent from a common proto-language. ... The Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred related languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, as well as many spoken in the Indian subcontinent (South Asia), the Iranian plateau (Southwest Asia), and Central Asia. ... The Italic subfamily is a member of the Centum branch of the Indo-European language family. ... The Romance languages (sometimes referred to as Romanic languages) are a branch of the Indo-European language family, comprising all the languages that descend from Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. ... Italo-Western is the largest sub-group of Romance languages. ... Gallo-Romance languages Gallo-Italian languages Lombard Piedmontese Emilian-Romagnol Venetian Ligurian Gallo-Rhaetian languages Oïl languages(including French) Burgundian Champenois Franc-Comtois French Gallo Lorrain Norman Anglo-Norman Channel Island Norman Auregnais Dgèrnésiais Jèrriais Sercquiais Picard Poitevin-Saintongeais Walloon Rhaetian languages Friulian Ladin Romansh *Franco... The Gallo-Romance branch of Romance languages includes French, Oïl languages, Catalan, and Occitan, among other languages. ... The geographical spread of the Oïl languages (except French) can be seen in shades of green and yellow in this map Langues doïl is the linguistic and historical designation of the Gallo-Romance languages which originated in the northern territories of Roman Gaul now occupied by northern... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is an international standard for language codes. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... The Unicode Standard, Version 5. ... The Romance languages (sometimes referred to as Romanic languages) are a branch of the Indo-European language family, comprising all the languages that descend from Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. ... A dialect continuum is a range of dialects spoken across a large geographical area, differing only slightly between areas that are geographically close, and gradually decreasing in mutual intelligibility as the distances become greater. ... Europe in 1000 The year 1000 of the Gregorian Calendar was the last year of the 10th century as well as the last year of the first millennium. ... Events February 22 - Jubilee of Pope Boniface VIII. March 10 - Wardrobe accounts of King Edward I of Englanddo (aka Edward Longshanks) include a reference to a game called creag being played at the town of Newenden in Kent. ... The geographical spread of the Oïl languages (except French) can be seen in shades of green and yellow in this map Langues doïl is the linguistic and historical designation of the Gallo-Romance languages which originated in the northern territories of Roman Gaul now occupied by northern... Occitan (IPA AmE: ), known also as Lenga dòc or Langue doc (native name: occitan [1], lenga dòc [2]; native nickname: la lenga nòstra [3] i. ... Provençal (Provençau) is one of several dialects of Occitan spoken by a minority of people in southern France and other areas of France and Italy. ...

Contents

Grammar and phonology

Historical influences

Gaulish

Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste

The Gaulish language, a Celtic language, slowly became extinct during the long centuries of Roman domination. A handful of Gaulish words survive in contemporary French: words like chêne, "oak tree", and charrue, "plough", are Gaulish survivals, but fewer than two hundred words of modern French have a Gaulish etymology; Delamarre (2003 pp.389-90) lists 167. Latin was the common language of the western Roman world, and opened up a wider world to its speakers than Gaulish did, so it grew at the expense of Gaulish. Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne. ... It has been suggested that Orlando (character) be merged into this article or section. ... Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste. ... Charlemagne and Pippin the Hunchback. ... The chansons de geste, Old French for songs of heroic deeds, are the epic poetry that appears at the dawn of French literature. ... Gaulish is the name given to the Celtic language that was spoken in Gaul before the Vulgar Latin of the late Roman Empire became dominant in Roman Gaul. ... The Celtic languages are the languages descended from Proto-Celtic, or Common Celtic, a branch of the greater Indo-European language family. ... Not to be confused with Entomology, the scientific study of insects. ...


Latin

In one sense, Old French began when the Roman Empire conquered the territory it called Gaul during the conquests of Julius Caesar, which were substantially completed by 51 BC. The Romans introduced the Latin language into southern France starting in around 120 BC, when they occupied southern Gaul during the Punic Wars. For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation). ... Gaul (Latin: ) was the name given,in ancient times, to the region of Western Europe comprising present-day northern Italy, France, Belgium, western Switzerland and the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine river. ... For other uses, see Julius Caesar (disambiguation). ... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 1st century BC - 1st century Decades: 100s BC 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC 60s BC - 50s BC - 40s BC 30s BC 20s BC 10s BC 0s BC Years: 56 BC 55 BC 54 BC 53 BC 52 BC 51 BC 50 BC 49 BC 48... For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC 130s BC - 120s BC - 110s BC 100s BC 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC Years: 125 BC 124 BC 123 BC 122 BC 121 BC - 120 BC - 119 BC 118 BC... The Punic Wars were a series of three wars fought between Rome and Carthage. ...


Starting during the period when Plautus was writing, the phonological structure of classical Latin began to change, yielding the vulgar Latin that was the common spoken language of the western Roman world. This vulgar Latin began to vary strongly from the classical language in its phonology; spoken Latin, rather than the somewhat artificial literary language of classical Latin, was the ancestor of the Romance languages including Old French. Some Gaulish words influenced Vulgar Latin and thus, not only Old French but also other Romance languages. For example classical Latin equus was replaced in common parlance by vulgar Latin caballus, derived from Gaulish caballos (Delamare 2003 p.96) thus giving Modern French cheval, Catalan cavall, Italian cavallo, Portuguese cavalo, Spanish caballo, Romanian cal, and (borrowed from Norman) English cavalry. Titus Macchius Plautus, generally referred to simply as Plautus, was a playwright of Ancient Rome. ... Classical Latin is the language used by the principal exponents of that language in what is usually regarded as classical Latin literature. ... Vulgar Latin, as in this political graffito at Pompeii, was the speech of ordinary people of the Roman Empire — different from the classical Latin used by the Roman elite. ... Phonology (Greek phonē = voice/sound and logos = word/speech), is a subfield of linguistics which studies the sound system of a specific language (or languages). ... A literary language is a register of a language that is used in writing, and which often differs in lexicon and syntax from the language used in speech. ... The Romance languages (sometimes referred to as Romanic languages) are a branch of the Indo-European language family, comprising all the languages that descend from Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. ...


Frankish

The Frankish language had a large impact on the vocabulary of Old French as a result of the Frankish conquest of much of the territory of modern France by the Franks during the Migration Period. The current and older names of the language, français, is derived from the name of the Franks. A number of other Germanic peoples, including the Burgundians, were active in the territory at that time; the Germanic languages spoken by the Franks, Burgundians, and others were not written languages, and at this remove it is often difficult to identify from which specific Germanic source a given Germanic word in French is derived. Philologists such as Pope (1934) estimate that perhaps fifteen percent of the vocabulary of modern French derives from Germanic sources; this vocabulary includes a large number of common words like haïr ‘to hate’; bateau ‘boat’, and hache ‘axe’, which all derive from Germanic sources. It has been suggested that the passé composé and other compound verbs used in French conjugation are also the result of Germanic influences.[citation needed] Old Frankish was the language of the Franks. ... A vocabulary is a set of words known to a person or other entity, or that are part of a specific language. ... This article is about the Frankish people and society. ... Human migration denotes any movement of groups of people from one locality to another, rather than of individual wanderers. ... This article includes a list of works cited or a list of external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks in-text citations. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Philology, etymologically, is the love of words. ... A compound is a word composed of more than one free morphemes. ... In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection (regular alteration according to rules of grammar). ...


In addition to the Germanic words that were introduced through Frankish, other Germanic words in Old French appeared as a result of Norman settlements in Normandy during the 10th century. These words came from the Old Norse spoken by the Norsemen who settled in northern France during the period; their settlement was legitimised and made permanent in 911 under Rollo of Normandy. Norman conquests in red. ... Flag of Normandy Normandy (in French: Normandie, and in Norman: Normaundie) is a geographical region in northern France. ... As a means of recording the passage of time, the 10th century was that century which lasted from 901 to 1000. ... Old Norse or Danish tongue is the Germanic language once spoken by the inhabitants of the Nordic countries (for instance during the Viking Age). ... This article is about the year 911 A.D.; for the emergency telephone number, see 9-1-1. ... Rollo on the Six Dukes statue in the Falaise town square. ...


Earliest written Old French

While the earliest documents said to be written in French are the Oaths of Strasbourg (treaties and charters entered by king Charles the Bald in 842), it is probable that the text is in an older Langue d'oïl, or even Gallo-Romance, being what could be called a mixture of vulgar Latin and early Romance. It is hard to determine from the text we have how they were pronounced: Text of the Oaths The Oaths of Strasbourg (Modern French: les serments de Strasbourg, Modern German: die Straßburger Eide) is the name by which we know the pledges of allegiance taken in 842 by Louis the German, son of Louis the Pious, and ruler of the eastern Frankish kingdom... Charles the Bald - Detail from a painting in the First Bible of Charles the Bald, painted ca. ... Events Oaths of Strasbourg — alliance of Louis the German and Charles the Bald against emperor Lothar — sworn and recorded in vernacular languages. ... The langue doïl language family in linguistics comprises Romance languages originating in territories now occupied by northern France, part of Belgium and the Channel Islands. ... The Gallo-Romance branch of Romance languages includes French, Oïl languages, Catalan, and Occitan, among other languages. ...

Pro Deo amur et pro Christian poblo et nostro commun salvament, d’ist di en avant, in quant Deus savir et podir me dunat, si salvarai eo cist meon fradre Karlo, et in aiudha et in cadhuna cosa...
(For the love of God and for the Christian people, and our common salvation, from this day forward, as God will give me the knowledge and the power, I will defend my brother Charles with my help in everything...)

Beginning with the House of Capet, which was begun by Hugh Capet in 987, the culture of northern France began to develop, and its political ascendency over the southern areas of Aquitaine and Tolosa / Toulouse was slowly but firmly asserted. The current French language, however, did not begin to become the common speech of the entire nation of France until after the French Revolution. The House of Capet includes any of the direct descendants of Robert the Strong. ... Hugh Capet[1] (c. ... Events Hugh Capet, Count of Paris, crowned King of France Kukulcan conquers Chichen Itza Births Deaths May 21 King Louis V of France Categories: 987 ... (Region flag) (Region logo) Location Administration Capital Regional President Departments Dordogne Gironde Landes Lot-et-Garonne Pyrénées-Atlantiques Arrondissements 18 Cantons 235 Communes 2,296 Statistics Land area1 41,308 km² Population (Ranked 6th)  - January 1, 2006 est. ... Tolosa can mean several things: Tolosa is the Latin and Occitan name for the town of Toulouse, France. ... New city flag (Occitan cross) Traditional coat of arms Motto: (Occitan: For Toulouse, always more) Location Coordinates Time Zone CET (GMT +1) Administration Country Region Midi-Pyrénées Department Haute-Garonne (31) Intercommunality Community of Agglomeration of Greater Toulouse Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc  (UMP) (since 2004) City Statistics Land... The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on...


Another example of an early Langue d'oïl or Gallo-Romance text is the Eulalia sequence, which probably is also much closer to the spoken language of the time than the Oaths of Strasbourg.[citation needed] It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Sequence of Saint Eulalia. ... Text of the Oaths The Oaths of Strasbourg (Modern French: les serments de Strasbourg, Modern German: die Straßburger Eide) is the name by which we know the pledges of allegiance taken in 842 by Louis the German, son of Louis the Pious, and ruler of the eastern Frankish kingdom...


From Vulgar Latin to Old French

One profound change that affected French, and every other Romance language, was the reordering of the vowel system of classical Latin. Latin had ten distinct vowels: long and short versions of A, E, I, O, U, and three (or four) diphthongs, AE, OE, AU, and according to some, UI.[1] What happened to Vulgar Latin is set forth in the table. Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... In phonetics, a diphthong (also gliding vowel) (Greek δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally with two sounds, or with two tones) is a monosyllabic vowel combination involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, often interpreted by listeners as a single vowel sound or phoneme. ...

Letter Classical Latin Vulgar Latin Old French
closed open
Short A /a/ /a/ /a, au/ /ɛ, iə/
Long A /a:/
AE /ai/ /ɛ/ /ɛ/ /iə/
Short E /e/
OE /oi/ /e/ /e, eu/ /ei/
Long E /e:/
Short I /i/ /ɪ/
Short Y /y/
Long I /i:/ /i/ /i/ /i/
Long Y /y:/
Short O /o/ /ɔ/ /ɔ/ /yə/
Long O /o:/ /o/ /o/ /ou/
Short U /u/ /ʊ/
Long U /u:/ /u/ /y/ /y/
AU /aw/ /aw/ /ɔ/ /ɔ/
(see International Phonetic Alphabet for an explanation of the symbols used);

Both the diphthongs AE and OE also fell in with /e/. AU was initially retained, and turned into /O/ after the original /O/ fell victim to further changes. Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...


Thus, the ten vowel system of Classical Latin, which relied on phonemic vowel length was new-modelled into a system in which vowel length distinctions were suppressed and alterations of vowel quality became phonemic. Because of this change, the stress on accented syllables became much more pronounced in Vulgar Latin than in Classical Latin. This tended to cause unaccented syllables to become less distinct, while working further changes on the sounds of the accented syllables. In human language, a phoneme is the theoretical representation of a sound. ... In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. ...


Old French underwent more thorough alterations of its sound system than did the other Romance languages. Vowel breaking was something that occurred generally in Proto-Western-Romance (here, Proto-Romance), although with different results in each of the daughter languages; Latin FOCU(M) (originally "hearth") becomes Italian fuoco, Romanian and Catalan foc, Spanish fuego, and French feu (all meaning "fire"). But in Old French the phenomenon went further than in any other Romance language; of the seven vowels inherited from Latin, only /i/ remained essentially unchanged. In stressed syllables:

  • The sound of Latin E (short), turning to /ɛ/ in Proto-Romance, became ie in Old French: Latin MEL, "honey" > OF miel
  • The sound of Latin O (short) > Proto-Romance /ɔ/ > OF uo: COR > cuor, "heart"
  • Latin Ê > Proto-Romance /e/ > OF ei: HABÊRE > aveir, "to have"; this later becomes /oi/ in many words, as in avoir
  • Latin Ô > Proto-Romance /o/ > OF ou: FLÔRE(M) > flour, "flower"
  • Latin open syllable /a/ > OF /e/, probably through an intervening stage of /æ/; MARE > mer, "sea" This change also characterizes the Gallo-Italic dialects of Northern Italy (cf. Bolognese [mɛ:r]).

Note that Latin AU did not share the fate of /ɔ/ or /o/; Latin AURUM > OF or, "gold": not *oeur nor *our. Latin AU must have been retained at the time these changes were affecting Proto-Romance.


Changes affecting the consonants were also quite pervasive in Old French. Old French shared with the rest of the Vulgar Latin world the loss of final -M. Since this sound was basic to the Latin noun case system, its loss levelled the distinctions upon which the synthetic Latin syntax relied, and forced the Romance languages to adapt a more analytic syntax based on word order. Old French also dropped many internal consonants when they followed the strongly stressed syllable; Latin PETRA(M) > Proto-Romance */peðra/ > OF pierre; cf. Spanish piedra ("stone"). In linguistics, declension is a feature of inflected languages: generally, the alteration of a noun to indicate its grammatical role. ... A synthetic language, in linguistic typology, is a language with a high morpheme-per-word ratio. ... For other uses, see Syntax (disambiguation). ... An isolating language is a language in which the vast majority of morphemes are free morphemes and are considered to be full-fledged words. By contrast, in a synthetic language, a word is composed of agglutinated or fused morphemes that denote its syntactic meanings. ...


During the Old French period, Latin /u/ became /y/, the lip-rounded sound that is written 'u' in Modern French.


In some contexts, /oi/ became /e/, still written oi in Modern French. During the early Old French period this sound was pronounced as the writing suggests, as /oi/. This sound developed variously in different varieties of Oïl language - most of the surviving languages maintain a pronunciation as /we/ - but literary French adopted a dialectal phonology /wa/. The doublet of français and François in modern French orthography demonstrates this mix of dialectal features.


At some point during the Old French period, vowels with a following nasal consonant began to be nasalized. While the process of losing the final nasal consonant took place after the Old French period, the nasal vowels that characterise modern French appeared during the period in question. In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ...


Old French, along with Portuguese, exhibits the most thorough phonetic changes from Latin, as opposed to relatively conservative Romance languages like Spanish, Italian or Romanian. As the example of pierre from PETRA(M) shows, many interior consonants were lost, swallowed up in the strong word stress accent.


Sound changes from Latin to Old French

Through Proto-Western-Romance:

  • Reduction of ten-vowel system to seven vowels; diphthongs 'ae' and 'oe' reduced to /ɛ/ and /e/; maintenance of 'au' diphthong.
  • Loss of final -m (except in monosyllables, e.g. modern rien < rem).
  • Loss of /h/.
  • 'ns' > 's'.
  • 'rs' > 'ss' when originating from Old Latin 'rtt', but retained when originating from Old Latin 'rct' (thus dorsum > Modern French dos, but ursus (compare Greek arktos) > Modern French ours).
  • Final 'er' > 're', 'or' > 'ro' (cf. Spanish cuatro, sobre < quattuor, super).
  • Vulgar Latin unstressed vowel loss: Loss of intertonic (i.e. unstressed and in an interior syllable) vowels between /k/, /g/ and /r/, /l/.
  • Reduction of 'e' and 'i' in hiatus to /j/, followed by palatalization. Palatalization of /k/ and /g/ before front vowels.
    • /kj/ is apparently doubled to /kkj/ prior to palatalization.
    • /d'/ and /g'/ (from /dj/, /gj/, and /g/ before a front vowel) become /j/.

Through Proto-Gallo-Ibero-Romance: Palatalization means pronouncing a sound nearer to the hard palate, making it more like a palatal consonant; this is towards the front of the mouth for a velar or uvular consonant, but towards the back of the mouth for a front (e. ...

  • /k'/ and /t'/ merge, becoming /ts'/ (still treated as a single sound).
  • /kt/ > /jt/.
  • First diphthongization (only in some dialects): diphthongization of /ɛ/, /ɔ/ to 'ie, uo' (later, 'uo' > 'ue') in stressed, open syllables. This also happens in closed syllables before a palatal, often later absorbed: PEIOR >> /pejro/ > /piejro/ >> 'pire' "worst"; NOCTE > /nojte/ > /nuojte/ >> /nujt/ 'nuit'; but TERTIU > /terts'o/ >> 'tierz'.
  • First lenition (did not happen in a small area around the Pyrenees): chain shift involving intervocalic consonants: voiced stops and unvoiced fricatives become voiced fricatives (/ð/, /v/, /j/); unvoiced stops become voiced stops. NOTE: /ts'/ (from /k(e,i)/, /tj/) is pronounced as a single sound and voiced to /dz'/, but /tts'/ (from /kk(e,i)/, /kj/) is geminate and thus not voiced. Consonants before /r/ are lenited, also, and /pl/ > /bl/. Final /t/ and /d/ when following a vowel are lenited.
  • /jn/, /nj/, /jl/, /gl/ (from Vulgar Latin /gn/, /ng'/, /gl/, /kl/, respectively) become /ɲ/ and /ʎ/, respectively.
  • First unstressed vowel loss: Loss of intertonic (i.e. unstressed and in an interior syllable) vowels, except /a/ when pretonic. (Note: This occurred at the same time as the first lenition, and individual words inconsistently show one change before the other. Hence MANICA > 'manche' but GRANICA > 'grange'. CARRICARE becomes either 'charchier' or 'chargier' in OF.)

Through Early Old French, in approximate order:

  • Spread and dissolution of palatalization:
    • A protected /j/ (not preceded by a vowel), stemming from an initial /j/ or from a /dj/, /gj/, or /g(e,i)/ when preceded by a consonant, becomes /dʒ/.
    • A /j/ followed by another consonant tends to palatalize that consonant; these consonants may have been brought together by intertonic loss. (E.g. MEDIETATE > /mejetate/ > /mejt'ate/ > 'moitié'. PEIOR > /pejro/ > /piejr'e/ > 'pire', but IMPEIORARE > /empejrare/ > /empejr'are > /empejriɛr/ > OF 'empoirier' "to worsen".)
    • Palatalized sounds lose their palatal quality and eject a /j/ into the end of the preceding syllable, when open; also into the beginning of the following syllable when it is stressed, open, and front (i.e. /a/ or /e/). Hence *CUGITARE > /kujetare/ > /kujdare/ > /kujd'are/ >> /kujdiɛr/ OF 'cuidier' "to think". MANSIONATA > /maz'onada/ > /maz'nada/ > /majz'njɛðə/ > OF 'maisniée' "household".
      • /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ (including those from later sources, see below) eject a following /j/ normally, but do not eject any preceding /j/.
      • Double /ss'/ < /ssj/ and from various other combinations also ejects a preceding /j/.
      • Single /dz/ ejects such a /j/, but not double /tts/, evidently since it is a double sound and causes the previous syllable to close; see comment above, under lenition.
      • Actual palatal /l'/ and /n'/ (as opposed to the merely patalized varieties of the other sounds) retain their palatal nature and don't emit preceding /j/. Or rather, palatal /l'/ does not eject a preceding /j/ (or else, it is always absorbed, even when depalatalized); palatal /n'/ emits a preceding /j/ when depalatalized, even if the preceding syllable is closed, e.g. JUNGIT > *YŌNYET > /dʒoɲt/ > /dʒojnt/ 'joint'.
      • Palatal /r'/ ejects a preceding /j/ as normal, but the /j/ metathesizes when a /a/ precedes, hence OPERARIU > /obrar'o/ > /obrjaro/ (not */obrajro/) >> 'ouvrier' "worker".
  • Second diphthongization: diphthongization of /e/, /o/, /a/ to 'ei, ou, ae' (later, 'ei' > 'oi', 'ou' > 'eu', 'ae' > 'e') in stressed, open syllables, not followed by a palatal sound (not in all Gallo-Romance).
  • Second unstressed vowel loss: Loss of all vowels except /a/ in unstressed, final syllables; addition of a final, supporting /e/ when necessary, to avoid words with impermissible final clusters.
  • Second lenition: Same changes as in first lenition, applied again (not in all Gallo-Romance). NOTE: Losses of unstressed vowels may have blocked this change from happening.
  • Palatalization of /ka/ > /tʃa/, /ga/ > /dʒa/.
  • Further vocalic changes (part 1):
  • /ae/ > /ɛ/ (but > /jɛ/ after a palatal, and > /aj/ before nasals when not after a palatal).
  • /au/ > /ɔ/.
  • Further consonant changes:
    • Geminate stops become single stops.
    • Final stops and fricatives become devoiced.
    • /dz/ > /z/, when not final.
    • A /t/ is inserted between palatal /ɲ/, /ʎ/ and following /s/ (DOLES > 'duels' "you hurt" but COLLIGIS > *COLYES > 'cuelz, cueuz' "you gather"; JUNGIS > *YŌNYES > 'joinz' "you join"; FILIUS > 'filz' "son").
    • Palatal /ɲ/, /ʎ/ are depalatalized to /n, l/ when final or following a consonant.
      • In first-person verb forms, they may remain palatal when final due to the influence of the palatalized subjunctives.
      • /ɲ/ > /jn/ when depalatalizing, but /ʎ/ > /l/, without a yod. (*VECLUS > /vɛl'o/ > /viɛl'o/ > 'viel' "old" but CUNEUM > /kon'o/ > 'coin'. BALNEUM > /banyo/ > 'bain' but MONTANEA > /montanya/ > 'montagne'.)
  • Further vocalic changes (part 2):
  • /jej/ > /i/, /woj/ > /uj/. (PLACERE > /plajdzjejr/ > 'plaisir'; NOCTE > /nuojt/ > 'nuit'.)
  • Diphthongs are consistently rendered as falling diphthongs, i.e. the major stress is on the first element, including for 'ie, ue, ui, etc.' in contrast with the normal Spanish pronunciation.

Through Old French, of c. 1100 AD: In phonetics, a diphthong (Greek δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally with two sounds) is a vowel combination in a single syllable involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, often interpreted by listeners as a single vowel sound or phoneme. ...

  • /f/, /p/, /k/ lost before final /s/, /t/. (DEBET > Strasbourg Oaths 'dift' /deift/ > OF 'doit'.)
  • 'ei' > 'oi'.
  • 'wo' > 'we'.
  • /a/ before /s/ becomes "darker": farther back and rounded. (Later, this becomes a separate phoneme, after /ts/ > /s/.)
  • Loss of /θ/ and /ð/. When this results in a hiatus of /a/ with a following vowel, the /a/ becomes a schwa /ə/.
  • Loss of /s/ before voiced consonant (perhaps passing through /h/), with lengthening of preceding vowel. Produces a new set of long vowel phonemes.
  • /u/ > /y/.

Through Late Old French: c. 1250-1300 AD: Text of the Oaths The Oaths of Strasbourg (Modern French: les serments de Strasbourg, Modern German: die Straßburger Eide) is the name by which we know the pledges of allegiance taken in 842 by Louis the German, son of Louis the Pious, and ruler of the eastern Frankish kingdom...

  • /o/ > /u/.
  • /l/ before consonant becomes /w/.
  • Diphthongs shift to second element.
  • 'we' and 'ew' > /œ/.
  • 'oi' > 'we'.
  • 'ai' > /ɛ/.
  • /ɛ/ and /e/ merge in closed syllables.
  • /ts/ > /s/, /tʃ/ > /ʃ/, /dʒ/ > /ʒ/.
  • Loss of /s/ before any consonant, with lengthening of preceding vowel.

Nouns

Old French maintained a two-case system, with a nominative case and an oblique case, longer than did some other Romance languages (e.g. Spanish and Italian). Case distinctions, at least in the masculine gender, were marked on both the definite article and on the noun itself. Thus, the masculine noun li voisins, "the neighbour" (Latin VICÍNU(S) /wi'ki:nus/ > Proto-Romance */vetsinu(s)/ > OF voisins /voizins/) was declined as follows: The nominative case is a grammatical case for a noun, which generally marks the subject of a verb, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments. ... An oblique case (Latin: ) in linguistics is a noun case of analytic languages that is used generally when a noun is the predicate of a sentence or a preposition. ... In linguistics, grammatical gender is a morphological category associated with the expression of gender through inflection or agreement. ... Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzards 1996 performance released on video and CD. The video/DVD and CD performances were both recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London, England. ...


Singular:

 Nominative: li voisins (Latin ille vicinus) Oblique: le voisin (Latin illum vicinum) 

Plural:

 Nominative: li voisin (Latin illi vicini) Oblique: les voisins (Latin illos vicinos) 

In later Old French, these distinctions became moribund. When the distinctions were marked enough, sometimes both forms survived, with a lexical difference: both li sire (nominative, Latin SENIOR) and le seigneur (oblique, Latin SENIORE(M)) survive in the vocabulary of later French as different ways to refer to a feudal lord. As in most other Romance languages, it was the oblique case form that usually survived to become the modern French form: l'enfant (the child) represents the old accusative; the OF nominative was li enfes. But some modern French nouns perpetuate the old nominative; modern French soeur (OF suer) represents the Latin nominative SÓROR; the OF oblique form seror, from Latin accusative SORÓREM, no longer survives. Look up lexicon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Lord (disambiguation). ...


As in Spanish and Italian, the neuter gender was eliminated, and old neuter nouns became masculine. Some Latin neuter plurals were re-analysed as feminine singulars, though; for example, Latin GAUDIU(M) was more widely used in the plural form GAUDIA, which was taken for a singular in Vulgar Latin, and ultimately led to modern French la joie, "joy" (feminine singular). In linguistics, grammatical gender is a morphological category associated with the expression of gender through inflection or agreement. ...


Nouns were declined in the following declensions:

  • Class I (feminine, no case marking): la fame, la fame, les fames, les fames "woman"
  • Class II (masculine): li voisins, le voisin, li voisin, les voisins "neighbor"; li sergenz, le sergent, li sergent, les sergenz "servant"
  • Class Ia (feminine hybrid): la riens, la rien, les riens, les riens "thing"; la citéz, la cité, les citéz, les citéz "city"
  • Class IIa (masculine hybrid): li pere, le pere, li pere, les peres "father"
  • Class IIIa (masculine): li chantere, le chanteor, li chanteor, les chanteors "singer"
  • Class IIIb (masculine): li ber, le baron, li baron, les barons "baron"
  • Class IIIc (feminine): la none, la nonain, les nonains, les nonains "nun"
  • Class IIId (isolated, irregular forms): la suer, la seror, les serors, les serors "sister"; li enfes, l'enfant, li enfant, les enfanz "child"; li prestre, le prevoire, li prevoire, les prevoires "priest"; li sire, le seigneur, li seigneur, les seigneurs "lord"; li cuens, le conte, li conte, les contes "count"

Class I is derived from the Latin first declension. Class II is derived from the Latin second declension. Class Ia mostly comes from feminine third-declension nouns in Latin. Class IIa generally stems from second-declension nouns ending in -er and from third-declension masculine nouns; note that in both cases, the Latin nominative singular did not end in -s, and this is preserved in Old French.


Class III nouns show a separate form in the nominative singular that does not occur in any of the other forms. IIIa nouns ended in -ÁTOR, -ATÓREM in Latin, and preserve the stress shift; IIIb nouns likewise had a stress shift from -O to -ÓNEM. IIIc nouns are an Old French creation and have no clear Latin antecedent. IIId nouns represent various other types of third-declension Latin nouns with stress shift or irregular masculine singular (SÓROR, SORÓREM; ÍNFANS, INFÁNTEM; PRÉSBYTER, PRESBÝTEREM; SÉNIOR, SENIÓREM; CÓMES, CÓMITEM).


Verbs

The verb in Old French was somewhat less distinct from the rest of Proto-Romance than the noun was. It shared in the loss of the Latin passive voice, and the reduction of the Latin futures of the AMABO type (I will love) to Proto-Romance *amare habeo (lit. "I have to love"), which became amerai in Old French. In grammar, voice is the relationship between the action or state expressed by a verb, and its arguments (subject, object, etc. ...


In Latin, certain verbs shifted the accented syllable based on the Latin accentual system, which depended on vowel length. Thus, the Latin verb ÁMO, "I love," stressed on the first syllable, changed to AMÁMUS, "we love". Because the Latin stressed syllable affected Old French vowels, this syllable shift created a large number of strong verbs in Old French. ÁMO yielded j'aim, while AMÁMUS, moving the stress away from the first syllable, yielded nous amons. There were at least 11 types of alternations; examples of these various types are j'aim, nous amons; j'achat, nous achetons; j'adois, nous adesons; je mein, nouns menons; j'achief, nous achevons; je conchi, nous concheons; je pris, nous proisons; je demeur, nous demourons; je muer, nous mourons; j'aprui, nous aproions. In Modern French almost all of these verbs have been leveled, generally with the "weak" (unstressed) form predominating (but modern aimer/nous aimons is an exception). A few alternations remain, however, in what are now known as irregular verbs, such as je tiens, nous tenons or je meurs, nous mourons. A strong inflection is an irregular inflection, in which the stem of a word changes. ... In contrast to regular verbs, irregular verbs are those verbs that fall outside the standard patterns of conjugation in the languages in which they occur. ...


In general, Old French verbs show much less analogical reformation than in Modern French. The Old French first singular aim, for example, comes directly from Latin AMO, while modern aime has an analogical -e added. The subjunctive forms j'aim, tu ains, il aint are direct preservations of Latin AMEM, AMES, AMET, while the modern forms j'aime, tu aimes, il aime have been completely reformed on the basis of verbs in the other conjugations. The simple past also shows extensive analogical reformation and simplification in Modern French as compared with Old French.


The Latin pluperfect was preserved in very early Old French as a past tense with a value similar to a preterite or imperfect. E.g. (Cantilène de sainte Eulalie, 878 AD) 'avret' < HABUERAT, 'voldret' < VOLUERAT (Old Occitan also preserved this tense, with a conditional value). The pluperfect tense exists in most Indo-European languages, including English. ... The preterite (also praeterite, in American English also preterit, or past historic) is the grammatical tense expressing actions which took place in the past. ... Imperfect has several meanings: The imperfect tense in linguistics an imperfect cadence in music theory This is a disambiguation page &#8212; a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Look up conditional in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Example of regular -er verb

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present

Present

je dur durai duroie durerai dur durasse dureroie
tu dures duras durois dureras durs durasses durerois dure
il dure dura duroit durera durt durast dureroit
nous durons durames duriiens/-ïons durerons durons durissons/-issiens dureriions/-ïons durons
vous durez durastes duriiez dureroiz/-ez durez durissoiz/-issez/-issiez dureriiez/-ïez durez
ils durent durerent duroient dureront durent durassent dureroient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: durer
  • Present participle: durant
  • Past Participle: duré

Auxiliary verb: avoir


Example of regular -ir verb

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present

Present

je dors dormis dormoie dormirai dorm dormisse dormiroie
tu dors dormis dormois dormiras dorms dormisses dormirois dorme
il dort dormit dormoit dormira dormt dormt dormiroit
nous dormons dormimes dormiiens/-ïons dormirons dormons dormissons/-issiens dormiraions/-ïons dormons
vous dormez dormistes dormiiez dormiroiz/-ez dormez dormissoiz/-issez/-issiez dormiraiez/-ïez dormez
ils dorment dormerent dormoient dormiront dorment dormissent dormiroient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: dormir
  • Present participle: dormant
  • Past Participle: dormi

Auxiliary verb: avoir


Examples of the auxiliary verbs

avoir (to have)

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present

Present

je ai eus avoie aurai ai eusse auroie
tu ais (later as) eus avois auras ais eusses aurois ave
il ai (later a) eut avoit aura ai eusst auroit
nous avons eumes aviens/-ïons aurons aions eussons/-issiens auravons/-ïons avons
vous avez eustes aviez auroiz/-ez aiez eussoiz/-issez/-issiez auravez/-ïez avez
ils ont eurent avoient auront ont eussent auroient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: avoir (earlier aveir)
  • Present participle: aiant
  • Past Participle: eut

Auxiliary verb: avoir


etre (to be)

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect fut, étuure Present Imperfect Present

Present

je suis fus etais, earlier eroie serai sois fusse soi
tu es (sometimes suis, to fit the 1. person form) fus etais, earlier erois seras sois fusses serais es
il est (sometimes es) fut etait, earlier eroit sera soit fusst seroit
nous sommes (sometimes spelled som) fumes etions, earlier eriens/-ïons serons soyons fussons/-issiens sommes
vous etes fustes etiez, earlier eriez seroiz/-ez soyez fussoiz/-issez/-issiez serestes/-ïez estes
ils sont furent etaient, earlier eroient seront soient fussent seroient

Non-finite forms:

  • Infinitive: etre
  • Present participle: soiant
  • Past Participle: fut, étu

auxiliary verb: avoir, earlier aveir


Dialects

Since Old French did not consist of a single standard, competing administrative varieties were propagated by the provincial courts and chanceries.


The French of Paris was one of a number of standards, including:

Burgundian is either of the following; An extinct language of the Germanic language group spoken by the Burgundians. ... Coat of arms of the second Duchy of Burgundy and later of the French province of Burgundy Burgundy (French: ; German: ) is a historic region of France, inhabited in turn by Celts (Gauls), Romans (Gallo-Romans), and various Germanic peoples, most importantly the Burgundians and the Franks; the former gave their... A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess. ... Dijon ( , IPA: ) is a city in eastern France, the préfecture (administrative capital) of the Côte-dOr département and of the Bourgogne région. ... Picard is a language closely related to French, and as such is one of the larger group of Romance languages. ... wazzup Categories: | ... Calais (Kales in Dutch) is a town in northern France, located at 50°57N 1°52E. It is in the département of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sous-préfecture. ... New city flag Traditional coat of arms Motto: – Location Coordinates Time Zone CET (GMT +1) Administration Country Region Nord-Pas de Calais Department Nord (59) Intercommunality Urban Community of Lille Métropole Mayor Martine Aubry  (PS) (since 2001) City Statistics Land area¹ 39. ... This article is about the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. ... Old Norman was one of many langue doïl dialects. ... Flag of Normandy Normandy (in French: Normandie, and in Norman: Normaundie) is a geographical region in northern France. ... Caen (pronounced /kɑ̃/) is a commune of northwestern France. ... Rouen (pronounced in French, sometimes also ) is the historical capital city of Normandy, in northwestern France on the River Seine, and currently the capital of the Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) région. ... Bayeux Tapestry depicting events leading to the Battle of Hastings The Norman Conquest of England was the conquest of the Kingdom of England by William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy), in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings and the subsequent Norman control of England. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Satellite view of the English Channel The English Channel (French: , the sleeve) is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the island of Great Britain from northern France and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For the glossary of hacker slang, see Jargon File. ... For other uses, see Law (disambiguation). ... Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685) was the King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. ... Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. ... Walloon (Walon) is a regional Romance language spoken as a second language by some in Wallonia (Belgium). ... Namur (Nameûr in Walloon, Namen in Dutch) is a city and municipality, capital of the province of Namur and of the region of Wallonia in southern Belgium. ... Wallonia (French: Wallonie, German: Wallonien, Walloon: Walonreye, Dutch: Wallonië) or the Walloon Region (French: Région Wallonne, Dutch: Waals Gewest) is the predominantly French-speaking region that constitutes one of the three federal regions of Belgium, with its capital at Namur. ... Gallo is a regional language of France, traditionally spoken in Eastern Brittany. ... Historical province of Brittany, showing the main areas with their name in Breton language The traditional flag of Brittany (the Gwenn-ha-du), formerly a Breton nationalist symbol but today used as a general civic flag in the region. ... The Duchy of Brittany was an independent state from 841 to 1532. ...

Derived languages

This Oïl language is the ancestor of several languages spoken today, including:

Burgundian is either of the following; An extinct language of the Germanic language group spoken by the Burgundians. ... Champenois is a language spoken by a minority of people in France and in Belgium. ... Franc-Comtois is a language spoken by a minority of people in Franche-Comté. It is one of the langues doïl and is a regional language of France. ... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... Belgian French is primarily spoken in the French Community of Belgium, highlighted in red. ... Cajun French (sometimes called Louisiana Regional French [2]) is one of three varieties or dialects of the French language spoken primarily in the U.S. state of Louisiana, specifically in the southern parishes. ... French (français, langue française) is one of the most important Romance languages, outnumbered in speakers only by Spanish and Portuguese. ... Metropolitan France Metropolitan France (French: or la Métropole) is the part of France located in Europe, including Corsica (French: Corse). ... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... Swiss French (Suisse romand in French) is the name used for the different dialects of French spoken in the Francophone part of Switzerland known as Romandy. ... Gallo is a regional language of France, traditionally spoken in Eastern Brittany. ... Lorrain is a language spoken by a minority of people in Lorraine in France and in Gaume in Belgium. ... Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. ... Dgèrnésiais, also known as Guernésiais, Guernsey French, Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of Norman language spoken in Guernsey. ... Jèrriais is the form of the Norman language spoken in Jersey, in the Channel Islands. ... Picard is a language closely related to French, and as such is one of the larger group of Romance languages. ... Poitevin (Poetevin) is a language spoken by the people in Poitou. ... Walloon (Walon) is a regional Romance language spoken as a second language by some in Wallonia (Belgium). ...

Literature

Main Article at Medieval French literature Medieval French literature is, for the purpose of this article, literature written in Oïl languages (including Old French and early Middle French) during the period from the eleventh century to the end of the fifteenth century. ...


See also: Languages of France, Anglo-Norman literature There are a number of languages of France. ... Anglo-Norman literature is literature composed in the Anglo-Norman language developed during the period 1066-1204 when the Duchy of Normandy and England were united in the Anglo-Norman realm. ...


Notes

  1. ^ In this article:
    • CAPITAL letters indicate Latin or Vulgar Latin words;
    • Italics indicate Old French and other Romance language words;
    • An *asterisk marks a conjectured or hypothetical form;
    • Phonetic transcriptions appear /between slashes/, in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ...

References

  • Delamarre, X. & Lambert, P. -Y. (2003). Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise : Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental (2nd ed.). Paris: Errance. ISBN 2877722376
  • Pope, M.K. (1934). From Latin to Modern French with Especial Consideration of Anglo-Norman Phonology and Morphology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Kibler, William (1984). An Introduction to Old French. New York: Modern Language Association of America.

External links

  • Old French on the Web
  • Old French Online from the University of Texas at Austin
  • dictionnaire medievale - a wiki dictionary for middle french words and phrases

  Results from FactBites:
 
Old French Online: Series Introduction (2466 words)
Old French is one of the earliest attested Romance languages and offers a fascinating field for research in historical linguistics: not only are many of its changes attested in texts, but its linguistic ancestor, Latin, is richly documented as well.
Old French definite articles trace back to Latin demonstratives, which in the history of Latin became more and more frequent and gradually lost their demonstrative value.
In Old French this is not yet the case.
LINGUIST List 12.238: Old French-English Dictionary (598 words)
Reviewed by: Jed Evans, Independent Researcher Synopsis: Compiled from a broad range of texts across the span of Old French literature, the Old French-English Dictionary from Cambridge University Press is a useful lexical tool for students of Old French, medievalists and scholars of other fields.
In summation, I would recommend this dictionary to casual readers of Old French as a practical translating tool.
Jed Evans is a senior at Syosset High School in Syosset, NY who is currently working on a comparative linguistic survey of the French language from the Dark Ages to the Twentieth Century and beyond.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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