||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2011)|
|Region||northern France, parts of Belgium (Wallonia) and Switzerland, England, Ireland, Kingdom of Sicily, Principality of Antioch, Kingdom of Cyprus|
|Era||evolved into Middle French by the 14th century|
Old French (franceis, françois, romanz; Modern French ancien français) was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century. It was then (14th century) collectively known as the langues d'oïl.
- 1 Areal and dialectal divisions
- 2 Etymology and phonology
- 3 Phonology
- 4 Grammar
- 5 Later development
- 6 Literature
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Areal and dialectal divisions
The areal of Old French in contemporary terms corresponded to the northern parts of the kingdom of France (including Anjou and Normandy, which in the 12th century were ruled by the Plantagenet kings of England), Upper Burgundy and the duchy of Lorraine. The Norman dialect was also spread to England and Ireland, and during the crusades, Old French was also spoken in the Kingdom of Sicily, and in the Principality of Antioch and the kingdom of Jerusalem in the Levant.
As part of the emerging Gallo-Romance dialect continuum, the langues d'oïl were contrasted with the langue d'oc (the emerging Occitano-Romance group, at the time also called Provençal, adjacent to the Old French areal in the south-west, and with the Gallo-Italic ("Old Italian") group to the south-east. The Franco-Provençal group developed in Upper Burgundy, sharing features with both French and Provençal; it may have begun to diverge from the langues d'oïl as early as the 9th century, and is attested as distinct variant of French from the 12th century.
Dialects or variants of Old French included:
- the Burgundian of Burgundy, then an independent duchy whose capital was at Dijon;
- the Picard language of Picardy, whose principal cities were Calais and Lille. It was said that the Picard language began at the east door of Notre-Dame de Paris, so far-reaching was its influence;
- Old Norman, spoken in Normandy, whose principal cities were Caen and Rouen. The Norman conquest of England brought many Norman-speaking aristocrats into the British Isles. Most of the older Norman (sometimes called "French") words in the English language reflect the influence of this variety of Oïl language which became a conduit for the introduction into the Anglo-Norman realm, as did Anglo-Norman control of Anjou and Gascony and other continental possessions. The Anglo-Norman language reflected a shared culture on both sides of the English Channel. Ultimately, this language declined and fell, becoming Law French, a jargon spoken by lawyers, which was used in English law until the reign of Charles II. Norman, however, still survives in Normandy and the Channel Islands as a regional language;
- the Walloon language, centered around Namur in present-day Wallonia;
- the Gallo language of Brittany, the Romance language of the Duchy of Brittany;
- the Lorrain, the Romance language of the Duchy of Lorraine.
Etymology and phonology
Gaulish, possibly the only survivor of the continental Celtic languages in Roman times, slowly became extinct during the long centuries of Roman dominion. Only several dozen words (perhaps 200, if we add Gaulish etymology) survive in modern French, for example chêne, ‘oak tree’ and charrue ‘plough'; Delamarre (2003, pp. 389–90) lists 167.
Despite attempts to explain some phonetic changes being caused by a Gaulish substrate, only one of them is sure, because this fact is clearly attested in the Gaulish language epigraphy, e.g. : on the potteries of la Graufesenque (1st century AD), there is the Latin word (from Greek) written paraxsid-i instead of paropsid-es. The spellings /ps/ and /pt/ are confused with /xs/ and /xt/, e.g. : Latin capsa > *kaxsa > caisse (compare Italian cassa) or captīvus > *kaxtivus > OF chaitif (Modern French chétif, compare Irish cacht 'servant' ≠ Italian cattiv-ità, Spanish cautivo). This phonetic evolution is parallel to the shift of the Latin group /kt/ in Old French (Latin factum > fait, Italian fatto, Spanish hecho; or lactem* > lait, Italian latte, Spanish leche).
Latin in most of France began when the Roman Empire conquered Gaul during the campaigns of Julius Caesar, which were almost complete by 51 b.c. However, the Romans had introduced Latin to southern France (Gallia Narbonensis) by 120 b.c. when it came under Roman occupation, although it was not widely spoken until the a.d. 4th century.
Beginning with Plautus’s time (254–184 b.c.), Classical Latin’s phonological structure changed, eventually yielding Vulgar Latin, the common spoken language of the western Roman empire. This latter form differed strongly from its classical counterpart in phonology; it was the ancestor of the Romance languages, including Old French. Some Gaulish words influenced Vulgar Latin and, through this, other Romance languages. For example, classical Latin equus was uniformly replaced in Vulgar Latin by caballus ‘nag, work horse’ derived from Gaulish caballos (cf. Welsh ceffyl, Breton kefel), giving Modern French cheval, Occitan caval (chaval), Catalan cavall, Spanish caballo, Portuguese cavalo, Italian cavallo, Romanian cal.
Old Low Frankish
The pronunciation, the vocabulary and the syntax of Low Latin were modified step by step by the Germanic tribe of the Franks and others as their settlements in the Empire were accepted by the Romans, or forced upon them, and finally as they conquered portions of Roman Gaul that are now France and Belgium during the Migration Period. These Germanic settlements were much more consequent in Northern France and Belgium, than in the south of France and Europe. The name français is derived from the name of this tribe. Other less numerous Germanic peoples, including the Burgundians and the Visigoths, 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 sometimes difficult to identify from which specific Germanic source a given Germanic word in French is derived.
In fact, the Old Frankish language has had a determining influence on the birth of Old French, that explains partly why the first documents in Old French are older than the documents in other Romance languages (e. g.: Strasbourg Oaths, Sequence of Saint Eulalia). It is the result of an earlier gap created between Latin and the new language, which severed the intercomprehensibility between the two. The Old Low Frankish influence is also believed to be responsible for the differences between the langue d′oïl and the langue d′oc (Occitan), being that various parts of Northern France remained bilingual between Latin and Germanic for some time, and these areas correspond precisely to where the first documents in Old French were written. This Germanic language shaped the popular Latin spoken here and gave it a very distinctive identity compared to the other future Romance languages. The very first noticeable influence is the substitution of the Latin melodic accent by a Germanic stress and its result was diphthongization, differentiation between long and short vowels, the fall of the unaccentuated syllable and of the final vowels, e. g.: Latin decimus, -a ‘tenth’ > OF disme > F dîme ‘tithe’ (> E dime. Italian decima, Spanish diezmo); VL dignitate > OF deintié (> E dainty. Italian degnità, Romanian demnitate); or VL catena > OF chaeine (> E chain. Occitan, Spanish cadena, Italian catena). Otherwise two new phonemes that did not exist anymore in Vulgar Latin were added: [h] and [w] (> OF g(u)-, ONF w- cf. Picard w-), e. g.: VL altu > OF halt ‘high’ (influenced by OLF *hōh ; ≠ Italian, Spanish alto, Occitan naut) ; L vespa > F guêpe, Picard wèpe, Wallon wèsse, all ‘wasp’ (influenced by OLF *wapsa ; ≠ Occitan vèspa, Italian vespa, Spanish avispa) ; L viscus > F gui ‘mistletoe’ (influenced by OLF *wīhsila ‘morello’ with analogous fruits, when they are not ripe; ≠ Occitan vesc, Italian vischio) ; LL vulpiculu ‘fox kit’ (from L vulpes ‘fox’) > OF golpilz, Picard woupil ‘fox’ (influenced by OLF *wulf ‘wolf’; ≠ Occitan volpìlh, Old Italian volpiglio, Spanish vulpeja ‘vixen’). On the opposite, the Italian and Spanish words of Germanic origin borrowed from French or directly from Germanic retain [gw] and [g], e. g.: It, Sp. guerra ‘war’). In these examples, we notice a clear consequence of bilingualism, that sometimes even changed the first syllable of the Latin words. We can add another opposite example, where the Latin word influenced the Germanic one : framboise ‘raspberry’, from OF frambeise, from OLF *brāmbesi (cf. Du dial. braambes, braambezie ‘blackberry’; akin to G Brombeere, E dial. bramberry; *basi ‘berry’ cf. Got. -basi) blended with LL fraga or OF fraie ‘strawberry’, which explains the replacement [b] > [f] and in turn the final -se of framboise added to OF fraie to make freise, modern fraise (≠ Wallon frève, Romanian fragă, Romansh fraja, Italian fragola, fravola ‘strawberry’).
Otherwise, philologists such as Pope (1934) estimate that perhaps still 15% of the vocabulary of modern French derives from Germanic sources, but its proportion was bigger in Old French, because the French language borrowed heavily from Latin (analogous to English) and Italian by the clerics and the “grammarians” in the Middle Ages and later. Nevertheless a large number of words like haïr “to hate” (≠ Latin odiare > Italian odiare / Occitan asirar) or honte “shame” (≠ Latin verēcundia > Occitan vergonha, Italian vergogna, Spanish vergüenza) are still common.
Other Germanic words in Old French appeared as a result of Norman, i.e. Viking, settlements in Normandy during the 10th century. The settlers spoke Old Norse and their settlement was legitimised and made permanent in 911 under Rollo of Normandy, but this influence was very limited and almost only concerned the technological vocabulary of the navy. However, their eventual adoption of a distinct dialect, Norman French, would go on to heavily influence the development of the English language.
Earliest written Old French
At the third Council of Tours in 813, priests were ordered to preach in the vernacular language (either Romance or Germanic), since the common people could no longer understand formal Latin.
The earliest documents said to be written in French after the Reichenau and Kassel glosses (8th and 9th centuries) are the Oaths of Strasbourg (treaties and charters into which King Charles the Bald entered in 842):
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...)
The second-oldest document in Old French is the Eulalia sequence, which is important for linguistic reconstruction of Old French pronunciation due to its consistent spelling.
The royal House of Capet, founded by Hugh Capet in 987, inaugurated the development of northern French culture in and around Île-de-France, which slowly but firmly asserted its ascendency over the more southerly areas of Aquitaine and Tolosa (Toulouse). The Capetians' Langue d'oïl, the forerunner of modern standard French, did not begin to become the common speech of all of France, however, until after the French Revolution.
Old French was constantly changing and evolving. However, the form in the late 12th century, as attested in a great deal of mostly poetic writings, can be considered standard. The writing system at this time was more phonetic than that used in most subsequent centuries. In particular, all written consonants (including final ones) were pronounced, except for s preceding non-stop consonants and t in et, and final e was pronounced [ə]. The phonological system can be summarised as follows:
|Plosive||p b||t d||k ɡ|
|Fricative||f v||s z||(h)|
|Affricate||ts dz||tʃ dʒ|
- The affricates /ts/, /dz/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/ became fricatives ([s], [z], [ʃ], [ʒ]) in Middle French. /ts/ was written as c, ç, -z, as in cent, chançon, priz ("a hundred, song, price"). /dz/ was written as -z-, as in doze "twelve".
- /ɲ/ appeared not only in the middle of a word, but also at the end, as in poing "hand". At the end of a word, /ɲ/ was later lost, leaving a nasalized vowel.
- /h/ was found only in Germanic loanwords and was later lost. In native Latin words, /h/ was lost early on, as in om, uem, from Latin homō.
- Intervocalic /d/ from both Latin /t/ and /d/ was lenited to [ð] in the early period (cf. contemporary Spanish: amado [aˈmaðo]). At the end of words it was also devoiced to [θ]. In some texts it was sometimes written as dh or th (aiudha, cadhuna, Ludher, vithe). By 1100 it disappeared altogether.
In Old French, the nasal vowels were not separate phonemes, but occurred as allophones of the oral vowels before a nasal stop. This nasal stop was fully pronounced; thus bon was pronounced [bõn] (Modern French [bɔ̃]). Nasal vowels were present even in open syllables before nasals, where Modern French has oral vowels, as in bone [bõnə] (Modern French bonne [bɔn]).
- /o/ had formerly existed, but closed to /u/; it would later appear again when /aw/ monophthongized, and also when /ɔ/ closed in certain positions (e.g. when followed by original /s/ or /z/, but not by /ts/, which later became /s/).
Diphthongs and triphthongs
|/ew/ ~ /øw/||neveu||nephew|
|/we/ ~ /wø/||cuer||heart|
|/wẽ/||cuens||count (nom. sg.)|
stress always falls on middle vowel
- In Early Old French (up to about the mid-12th century), the spelling 〈ai〉 represented a diphthong /aj/, instead of the later monophthong /ɛ/, and 〈ei〉 represented the diphthong /ej/, which became /oj/ in Late Old French.
- In Early Old French the diphthongs described above as "rising" may have been falling diphthongs (/ie̯/, /yj/, /ue̯/). In earlier works with vowel assonance, the diphthong written 〈ie〉 did not assonate with any pure vowels, suggesting that it cannot have simply been /je/.
- The pronunciation of the vowels written 〈ue〉 and 〈eu〉 is debated. In very early Old French, they represented (and were written as) /uo/, /ou/, and by Middle French, they had both merged as /ø ~ œ/, but it is unclear what the transitional pronunciations were.
Old French maintained a two-case system, with a nominative case and an oblique case, for 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 vicínus /wiˈkiːnus/ > Proto-Romance */veˈtsinu(s)/ > OF voisins /vojˈzĩns/; Modern French le voisin) was declined as follows:
|Singular||Nominative||ille vicīnus||li voisins|
|Oblique (Accusative in Latin)||illum vicīnum||le voisin|
|Plural||Nominative||illī vicīnī||li voisin|
|Oblique (Accusative in Latin)||illōs vicīnōs||les voisins|
In later Old French, these distinctions became moribund. 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 oblique; the OF nominative was li enfes. But in some cases where there were significant differences between nominative and oblique forms, the nominative form survives, or sometimes both forms survive with different meanings:
- Both li sire (nominative, Latin sénior) and le seigneur (oblique, Latin (accusative) seniórem) survive in the vocabulary of later French as different ways to refer to a feudal lord.
- Modern French sœur "sister" is the nominative form (OF suer < Latin nominative sóror); the OF oblique form seror (< Latin accusative sorórem) no longer survives.
- Modern French prêtre "priest" is the nominative form (OF prestre < présbyter); the OF oblique form prevoire, later provoire (< presbýterem) survives only in the Paris street name Rue des Prouvaires.
- Modern French indefinite pronoun on "one" continues OF nominative om "man" (< hómo); homme "man" continues the oblique form (OF ome < hóminem).
In a few cases where the only distinction between forms was the nominative -s ending, the -s was preserved in spelling to distinguish otherwise homonymous words. An example is fils "son" (< Latin nominative filius), spelled as such to distinguish it from fil "wire". In this case, a later spelling pronunciation has resulted in the modern pronunciation /fis/ (earlier /fi/).
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).
Nouns were declined in the following declensions:
|Class I (feminine)||Class II (masculine)|
|Class I normal||Class Ia||Class II normal||Class IIa|
|sg.||nominative||la fame||la riens||la citéz||li voisins||li sergenz||li pere|
|oblique||la rien||la cité||le voisin||le sergent||le pere|
|pl.||nominative||les fames||les riens||les citéz||li voisin||li sergent||li pere|
|oblique||les voisins||les sergenz||les peres|
|Class III (both)|
|Class IIIa||Class IIIb||Class IIIc||Class IIId|
|sg.||nominative||li chantere||li ber||la none||la suer||li enfes||li prestre||li sire||li cuens|
|oblique||le chanteor||le baron||la nonain||la seror||l'enfant||le prevoire||le seigneur||le conte|
|pl.||nominative||li chanteor||li baron||les nones||les serors||li enfant||li prevoire||li seigneur||li conte|
|oblique||les chanteors||les barons||les nonains||les serors||les enfanz||les prevoires||les seigneurs||les contes|
Class I is derived from the Latin first declension. Class Ia mostly comes from feminine third-declension nouns in Latin. Class II is derived from the Latin second declension. 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.
Those classes show various analogical developments, like -es from the accusative instead of -Ø (-e after a consonant cluster) in Class I nominative plural (Latin -ae), li pere instead of *li peres (Latin illi patres) in Class IIa nominative plural, modelled on Class II, etc.
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).
Regular feminine forms of masculine nouns are formed by adding an 'e' to the masculine stem, apart from when the masculine stem already ends in e. For example bergier (shepherd) becomes bergiere (Modern French berger and bergère).
Adjectives agree in terms of number, gender and case with the noun they are qualifying. Thus a feminine plural noun in the nominative case requires any qualifying adjectives to be feminine, plural and in the nominative case. For example, in femes riches, riche has to be in the feminine plural form.
Adjectives can be divided into three declensional classes:
- Class I corresponding roughly to Latin 1st and 2nd declension adjectives
- Class II corresponding roughly to Latin 3rd declension adjectives
- Class III containing primarily the descendants of Latin synthetic comparative forms in -ior, -iōrem.
Class I adjectives have a feminine singular form (nominative and oblique) ending in -e. This class can be further subdivided into two subclasses based on the masculine nominative singular form. Class Ia adjectives have a masculine nominative singular ending in -s:
Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Nominative bons bon bone bones bon Oblique bon bons —
For Class Ib adjectives, the masculine nominative singular ends in -e, like the feminine. This subclass contains descendants of Latin 2nd and 3rd declension adjectives ending in -er in the nominative singular.
Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Nominative aspre aspre aspre aspres aspre Oblique aspres —
For Class II adjectives, the feminine singular is not marked by the ending -e.
Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Nominative granz grant granz/grant granz grant Oblique grant granz grant —
An important subgroup of Class II adjectives are the present participial forms in -ant.
Class III adjectives exhibit stem alternation resulting from stress shift in the Latin imparisyllabic declension, and a distinct neuter form:
Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Nominative mieudre(s) meillor mieudre meillors mieuz Oblique meillor meillors meillor —
Verbs in Old French show the same extreme phonological deformations as other Old French words. Morphologically, however, Old French verbs are extremely conservative, preserving intact most of the Latin alternations and irregularities that had been inherited in Proto-Romance. Old French has much less analogical reformation than in Modern French, and significantly less than the oldest stages of other languages (e.g. Old Spanish), despite the fact that the various phonological developments in Gallo-Romance and Proto-French led to complex alternations in the majority of commonly-used verbs.
For example, the Old French verb laver "to wash" is conjugated je lef, tu leves, il leve in the present indicative and je lef, tu les, il let in the present subjunctive, in both cases regular phonological developments from Latin indicative lavō, lavās, lavat and subjunctive lavem, lavēs, lavet. This paradigm is typical in showing the phonologically regular but morphologically irregular alternations of most paradigms:
- The alternation je lef ~ tu leves is a regular result of final devoicing, triggered by loss of final /o/ but not /a/.
- The alternation laver ~ tu leves is a regular result of the diphthongization of stressed (but not unstressed) open syllable /a/ into /ae/ > /æ/ > /e/.
- The alternation je lef ~ tu les ~ il let in the subjunctive is a regular result of the simplification of the final clusters /fs/,/ft/ resulting from loss of /e/ in final syllables.
Modern French, on the other hand, has je lave, tu laves, il lave in both indicative and subjunctive, reflecting significant analogical developments: analogical borrowing of unstressed vowel /a/; analogical -e in the first singular (from verbs like j'entre, where the -e is regular); and wholesale replacement of the subjunctive with forms modeled on -ir/-oir/-re verbs. All of these serve to eliminate the various alternations in the Old French verb paradigm. Even modern "irregular" verbs are not immune from analogy: For example, Old French je vif, tu vis, il vit (vivre "to live") has yielded to modern je vis, tu vis, il vit, eliminating the "unpredictable" -f in the first-person singular.
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. For example, the Sequence of Saint Eulalia (878 AD) has past-tense forms such as avret (< Latin habuerat), voldret (< Latin voluerat), alternating with past-tense forms from the Latin perfect (continued as the modern "simple past"). Old Occitan also preserved this tense, with a conditional value; Spanish still preserves this tense (the -ra imperfect subjunctive), as does Portuguese (in its original value as a pluperfect indicative).
In Latin, stress was determined automatically by the number of syllables in a word and the weight (length) of those syllables. This resulted in certain automatic stress shifts between related forms in a paradigm, depending on the nature of the suffixes added. For example, in pensō "I think", the first syllable was stressed, while in pensāmus "we think", the second syllable was stressed. In many Romance languages, vowels diphthongized in stressed syllables under certain circumstances, but not in unstressed syllables, resulting in alternations in verb paradigms: e.g. Spanish pienso "I think" vs. pensamos "we think" (pensar "to think"), or cuento "I tell" vs. contamos "we tell" (contar "to tell").
In the development of French, no fewer than five vowels diphthongized in stressed, open syllables. Combined with other stress-dependent developments, this yielded 15 or so types of alternations in so-called strong verbs in Old French. For example, /a/ diphthongized to /ai/ before nasal stops in stressed, open syllables, but not in unstressed syllables, yielding aim "I love" (Latin amō) but amons "we love" (Latin amāmus).
The different types are as follows:
|Vowel alternation||Environment||Example (-er conjugation)||Example (other conjugation)|
|Stressed||Unstressed||Latin etymon||3rd singular
|Infinitive||meaning||Latin etymon||3rd singular
/ Other form
|/e/||/a/||free /a/||lavāre||leve||laver||"to wash"||parere >
|pert||parir||"to give birth"|
|/ãj̃/||/ã/||free /a/ + nasal||amāre||aime||amer||"to love"||manēre||maint||manoir||"to remain"|
|/je/||/e/||palatal + free /a/||*accapāre||achieve||achever||"to achieve"|
|/i/||/e/||palatal + /a/ + palatal||*concacāre||conchie||concheer||"to expel"||jacēre||gist||gesir||"to lie (down)"|
|/a/||/e/||palatal + blocked /a/||*accapitāre||achate||acheter||"to buy"||cadere >
|/a/||/e/||intertonic /a/ + palatal?||*tripaliāre||travaille||traveillier||"to work"|
|/je/||/e/||free /ɛ/||levāre||lieve||lever||"to raise"||sedēre||siet||seoir||"to sit"|
|/jẽ/||/ẽ/||free /ɛ/ + nasal||*cremere||crient||creindre (var. cremir, -oir)||"to fear"|
|/i/||/oj/||/ɛ/ + palatal||pretiāre||prise||proisier||"to value"||exīre||ist||oissir||"to go out"|
|/ɛ/||/e/||intertonic /ɛ, e/ + double cons.||appellāre||apele||apeler||"to call"|
|/oj/||/e/||free /e/||*adhaesāre >
|/ẽj̃/||/ẽ/||free /e/ + nasal||mināre||meine||mener||"to lead"|
|/i/||/e/||palatal + free /e/|
|/oj/||/i/||intertonic /e/ + palatal||-||charroie||charrier||"to cart around"|
|/we/||/u/||free /ɔ/||*tropāre||trueve||trouver||"to find"||morī >
|/uj/||/oj/||/ɔ/ + palatal||*appodiāre||apuie||apoiier||"to lean"|
|/ew/||/u/||free /o/||dēmōrārī||demeure||demourer||"to stay"||cōnsuere >
|/u/||/e/||intertonic blocked /o/||*corruptiāre||courouce||courecier||"to get angry"|
|/ũ/||/ã/||intertonic blocked /o/ + nasal||calumniārī||chalonge||chalengier||"to challenge"|
In Modern French the verbs in the -er class have been systematically leveled. Generally the "weak" (unstressed) form predominates, but there are some exceptions (e.g. modern aimer/nous aimons). The only remaining alternations are in verbs like acheter/j'achète and jeter/je jette, where unstressed /ǝ/ alternates with stressed /ɛ/, and in (largely learned) verbs like adhérer/j'adhère, where unstressed /e/ alternates with stressed /ɛ/. Many of the non-er verbs have become obsolete and many of the remaining verbs have been leveled. A few alternations remain, however, in what are now known as irregular verbs, such as je tiens, nous tenons or je meurs, nous mourons.
Some verbs had a more irregular alternation between different-length stems, with a longer stressed stem alternating with a shorter unstressed stem. This was a regular development stemming from the loss of unstressed intertonic vowels, which remained when stressed:
- j'aiu/aidier "help" < adiūtō, adiūtāre
- j'araison/araisnier "speak to" < adratiōnō, adratiōnāre
- je deraison/deraisnier "argue" < dēratiōnō, dēratiōnāre
- je desjun/disner "dine" < disjējūnō, disjējūnāre
- je manju/mangier "eat" < mandūcō, mandūcāre
- je parol/parler "speak" < parabolō, parabolāre
The alternation of je desjun, disner is particularly complicated; it appears that disjējūnāre > Western Romance /desjejuˈnare > /desjejˈnare/ (preliminary intertonic loss) > /desiˈnare/ (triphthong reduction) > /disiˈnare/ (metaphony) > /disˈner/ (further intertonic loss and other proto-French developments). Note that both of the stems have become full verbs in modern French, déjeuner "to have lunch" and dîner "to dine". Furthermore, déjeuner does not derive directly from je desjun (< *disj(ēj)ūnō with total loss of unstressed -ēj-). Instead, it comes from Old French desjeüner, based on the alternative form je desjeün (< *disjē(j)ūnō with loss only of -j-, likely influenced by jeûner "to fast" < Old French jeüner < je jeün "I fast" < jē(j)ūnō, where jē- is an initial rather than intertonic syllable and hence the vowel -ē- cannot disappear).
Example of a regular -er verb
- Infinitive: durer
- Present participle: durant
- Past Participle: duré
Auxiliary verb: avoir
Example of a regular -ir verb
- Infinitive: fenir
- Present participle: fenissant
- Past Participle: feni(t)
Auxiliary verb: avoir
Example of a regular -re verb
- Infinitive: corre
- Present participle: corant
- Past Participle: coru(t)
Auxiliary verb: estre
Examples of the auxiliary verbs
avoir (to have)
|tu||ais (later as)||eus||avois||auras||ais||eusses||aurois||ave|
|il||ai (later a)||eut||avoit||aura||ai||eusst||auroit|
Auxiliary verb: avoir
estre (to be)
|je||suis||fui||(i)ere ; esteie > estoie||(i)er; serai; estrai||seie > soie||fusse||sereie > seroie; estreie > estroie|
|tu||es, ies||fus||(i)eres ; esteies > estoies||(i)ers; seras; estras||seies > soies||fusses||sereies > seroies; estreies > estroies||seies > soies|
|il||est||fu(t)||(i)ere(t), (i)ert ; esteit > estoit||(i)ert; sera(t); estra(t)||seit > soit||fust||sereit > seroit; estreit > estroit|
|nous||somes, esmes||fumes||eriiens, erions ; estiiens, estions||(i)ermes; serons; estrons||seiiens, seions > soiiens, soions||fuss-ons/-iens||seriiens, serions; estriiens, estrions||seiiens > soiiens, seions > soions|
|vous||estes||fustes||eriiez ; estiiez||--; sere(i)z; estre(i)z||seiiez > soiiez||fuss-eiz/-ez/-iez||seriiez; estriiez||seiiez > soiiez|
|ils||sont||furent||(i)erent ; esteient > estoient||(i)erent; seront; estront||seient > soient||fussent||sereient > seroient; estreient > estroient|
- Infinitive: estre
- Present participle: estant
- Past Participle: esté(t)
auxiliary verb: avoir
Other parts of speech
In the Late Middle Ages, the Old French dialects diverged into a number of distinct langues d'oïl, among which Middle French proper was the dialect of the Ile de France region. During the Early Modern period, French now becomes established as the official language of the kingdom of France throughout the realm, also including the langue d'oc speaking territories in the south. Vernacular literature as it developed in the 17th and 18th century, especially "popular" literature read by a wide audience, known by the term Bibliothèque bleue led to the emergence of standardized Classical French alongside the regional dialects of modern France.
The Old French dialect continuum diverged into a number of languages spoken today, including:
- Gallo language
|For a list of words relating to Old French, see the Old French category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Bartsch's law
- Anglo-Norman literature
- History of French
- History of the English language
- Languages of France
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Old French". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Pierre-Yves Lambert : La Langue gauloise Paris, (éditions errance) 1994, p. 46 - 47. ISBN 978-2-87772-224-7
- Lambert 46-47
- "Brill Online Dictionaries". Iedo.brillonline.nl. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- "Romance languages - Encyclopedia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- "Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture - Google Boeken". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- "Definition of Italic in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English)". Oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- "Definition of Romance in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English)". Oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- Xavier Delamarre, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. Paris: Errance, 2003, 96.
- Bernard Cerquiglini, La naissance du français, Presses Universitaires de France, 2nd Edition 1993, C. III, p. 53.
- Cerquiglini 53
- Cerquiglini 26.
- "Etymology of ''frambuesa'' (Spanish)". Buscon.rae.es. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- Portuguese framboesa ‘raspberry’ and Spanish frambuesa are French loans.
- Lusignan, Serge. La langue des rois au Moyen Âge: Le français en France et en Angleterre. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2004.
- The chart is based on phonologies given in Laborderie, Noëlle, Précis de Phonétique Historique, Nathan 1994; and in Rickard, Peter, A History of the French Language, 2nd edition, Routledge 1989, pp. 47-8.
- Berthon, H. E.; Starkey, V. G. (1908). Tables synoptiques de phonologie de l'ancien français. Oxford Clarendon Press.
- Zink (1999), p. 132
- Moignet (1988, p. 26–31), Zink (1992, p. 39–48), de La Chaussée (1977, p. 39–44)
- de la Chaussée, François (1977). Initiation à la morphologie historique de l'ancien français. Paris: Klincksieck. ISBN 2-252-01922-0.
- Cole, William (2005). First and Otherwise Notable Editions of Old French Texts Printed from 1742 to 1874: A Bibliographical Catalogue of My Collection. Sitges: Cole & Contreras.
- Delamarre, X.; P.-Y. Lambert (2003). Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise : Une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental (2nd ed.). Paris: Errance. ISBN 2-87772-237-6.
- Einhorn, E. (1974). Old French: A Concise Handbook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-20343-0.
- Kibler, William (1984). An Introduction to Old French. New York: Modern Language Association of America.
- Lanly, André (2002). Morphologie historique des verbes français. Paris: Champion. ISBN 2-7453-0822-X.
- Moignet, Gérard (1988). Grammaire de l'ancien français (2nd ed.). Paris: Klincksieck. ISBN 9782252015094.
- Pope, Mildred K. (1934). From Latin to Modern French with Especial Consideration of Anglo-Norman Phonology and Morphology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
- Zink, Gaston (1999). Phonétique historique du français (6th ed.). Paris: PUF. ISBN 2-13-046471-8.
- Zink, Gaston (1992). Morphologie du français médiéval (2nd ed.). Paris: PUF. ISBN 2-13-044766-X.
|Old French test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Old French language.|
- Old French on the Web
- Old French Online from the University of Texas at Austin
- Lexilogos: Online dictionaries of Old French
- DÉCT- (Electronic Dictionary of Chretien de Troyes) : complete lexicon and transcriptions of the five romances of this Old French author. University of Ottawa - CNRS.
- Du Bellay, Joachim (1549). La Défense, et illustration de la langue française. Paris: Arnoul L'Angelier.