Talk:Phonological history of French

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Latin AU[edit]

According to the rules described on this page so far, Latin aucellus would have ended up as oseau (/o/). Something needs to explain how aucellus became OF aucel (/au/), thence oiseau. i.e. AU -> oi (/ua/) Fletpedia (talk) 21:24, 26 May 2014 (UTC).

See Wiktionary. The Old French form is oisel, not **aucel. The Latin ancestor could have been *avicellus instead, in which case the development might have been regular. I can't think of a parallel example (where -avi- stood in unstressed, or even better, immediately pretonic, first syllable) right now, though. User:Benwing is more savvy than I about Old French. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:44, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Ah! There appear to be details not mentioned here or in Old French. It seems that oisel is like plaisir and intervocalic -s- is really /z/ (as still in Modern French) from /dz/, which behaves like a palatalised consonant. So, /ɔjzɛl/ < */ɔjdzɛl/ (early de-affrication of /dz/) < */aujdzɛl/ (monophthongisation) < */audzɛl/ (/dz/ ejects /j/ into a preceding open syllable) < */autsʲɛllu/ < */aukɛllu/ < */aukelluː/ ⟨aucellum⟩. So the i is a result of /j/-ejection, not from Latin -i-, which would have been syncopated anyway. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:20, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Right. Single palatalized consonants in Gallo-Romance between vowels spat out a /j/ before them, and also after them if they were followed by a stressed open A or Ē, which resulted in A -> /ie/, Ē -> /i/. Thus plaisir /plaizir/ (OF) < plaidzir < plaidzʲieir < pladzʲeir < platsʲeːr < platsʲeːre < platsʲere < Latin placēre(m). I do think this is documented somewhere on this page. I'll take a look. Benwing (talk) 07:33, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
This is mentioned in "Table of vowel outcomes" second bullet point, but granted it could be clearer. Benwing (talk) 07:37, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
I was confused by the s (rather than c or z). Old French says that /dz/ is spelt as z, as in doze, which I expected to be present here too, but then I realised that /dz/ had already become /z/ at this point – onze, doze and treize could be special cases in that they had /ddz/ as the result of Gallo-Romance syncope, which was simplified to /dz/ along with the other geminates but not de-affricated (this appears to suggest that devoicing and /dz/ > /z/ actually preceded degemination). Moreover, the resulting diphthong /auj/ looked strange to me – I began to doubt whether /j/ was also ejected into a syllable ending in a closing diphthong, but since the rules only specify an open syllable for ejection to occur, which /au-/ certainly is, I figured /auj/ must be correct, seeing that the result is as expected. That was quite an aha! effect: simply following the rules faithfully and mechanically actually works out. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 23:54, 29 August 2014 (UTC)


Second lenition: Same changes as in first lenition, applied again

And yet a couple of lines later we have "loss of θ" with no (other) origin for the segment given. So I gather it's not quite the same after all, and here /t/ lenited instead to [θ]? What about /p/ and /k/, then? Spirantization? Voicing? Nothing? --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 22:26, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

The phoneme /θ/ arises from final devoicing of /ð/ after loss of final /e/, /ð/ arising from /d/ in the second lenition, itself from /t/ by the first. Analogously, after a vowel, /p/ is voiced to /b/ in the first lenition and to /v/ in the second, yielding /f/ when devoiced, as in chef < CAPUT. On the other hand, /k/ yields, via /g/, the approximant /j/, which is not devoiced, for example in OF lai < LACUM. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:17, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

virginis > vierge?[edit]

How did Latin virginis /ˈwɪr.ɡɪ.nɪs/ develop into French vierge /vjɛʁʒ/? By the looks of the vowel chart, it seems to me that it should have developed into verge /vɛʁʒ/. Most other words I can think of follow the rules of this chart, so I'm just curious as to why "vierge" apparently does not. Thanks! (talk) 20:59, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

This appears to be a special rule, according to CNRTL: "Virginem a été rendu par virgene, puis virge par élimination de la syll. finale; devenu vierge par développement de e entre i et r suivi de cons. (POPE, § 644 et § 500)." That is, e is inserted between i and r when a consonant follows. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:23, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

"Consonants" section[edit]

I created a section "consonants", but I am not sure if my sources are valid (most of it pieced together from the rest of the page and, alas, original research) but the developement of consonants from Vulgar Latin to French are unclear so I felt a section needed to be created for this. Should I put in the information? DjKarta (talk) 18:13, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

Unclear cases[edit]

Table still needs to explain some outcomes which, at the current moment, seem inconsistent...


(1) cases of isolated words, like peu < PAUCUM (according to the table this should be paui [pwa] or perhaps pau [po] but peu seems inexplainable by the page atm) (2) a number of elements in the conjugation of of être and other irregular verbs (i.e. sius < SUM (+ STO???)-- unexplained at the moment) (3) unexplained inconsistencies in development of certain phonemes-- i.e. although the page gives the impression that 'c' before i, e [tsj] shifted to [s] late enough to be protected from lenition to [z] there are examples that seem to violate this--- oiseau [wazo] < AVICELLUM, raisin < RACE(:)MUM, etc. Another example is certain developments in [w>v] -- when it became word-final it shifted to [f] (boeuf < BOVUM, neuf < NOVEM), while intervocally various things seemed to have been able to happen -- in AVICELLUM it joins with the previous /a/ to make the diphthong /aw/, while the same did not happen in NAVIGARE, where it dropped entirely just after it protected the previous [a] from raising and the following [g] from (early) lenition, to make nager. These things are all explainable but it should be on the page with sources rather than the talk page with me typing OR. Then we have the case of boue < BAUA (Gaulish substratum), and the perhaps related case of taie < THE:CA (Latin < Greek). Page would probably do well to account for all of these. --Yalens (talk) 17:21, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

(1) The word peu is apparently from Proto-Romance *pōkū with "vulgar pronunciation" (an early rustic Latin diphthongisation possibly influenced by Umbrian), not *paukū. As mentioned in Romance languages#Latin diphthongs, this development is reflected in some other words such as queue too, and not only in French but also other Romance languages, though the phenomenon is inconsistent and unpredictable (this must have been a case of lexical diffusion within spoken Latin, or simply borrowing between different dialects or sociolects). Note, however, that Old French has poi, which seems to reflect the diphthong; it looks like the expected outcome to me, anyway.
(2) The -s in Modern French suis is etymologically spurious and was added orthographically after final -s had ceased to be pronounced. In Old French, it's still 'sui.
(3) For oiseau, see above. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:14, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
Another question that the page may need to handle with "au"-- it seems Gaulish-origin words with apparent original /au/ don't behave the same way as Latin words with /au/. For example, Gaulish *baua becomes French "boue" /bu/ not *"baue" /bo/. Was Gaulish /au/ treated as a different phoneme? That too seems a bizarre possibility as the most likely possibility, /ou/, would have likely become /ø/ "eu", not /u/ "ou". On a side note, the page doesn't really mention other early sound changes that mostly effected Gaulish words. For example, there is some apparent cases of unstressed intervocalic n-rhotacism. For example, Lingones becomes Langres, and it happens in a lot of other place names (even Londres for London < Londines?), though some of them have other oddities (Carnutes -> Chartres requires t/n metathesis either as a mistake in the Latin, or a proper change in the Gaulish or the French). Perhaps this mostly appears in Gaulish words because of their antipenultimate, rather than Latin's penultimate-or-if-light-then-antipenultimate stress, but I don't have a source on this at the moment. --Yalens (talk) 20:43, 14 March 2017 (UTC)
Found an explanation for a + w > ou in Pope, will add soon. --Yalens (talk) 21:09, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

When are these dated?[edit]

It seems to me 8th century changes and 5th century changes are mixed together here. Could someone date, however vaguely, the sound changes put in question on this page? (talk) 15:23, 29 June 2017 (UTC)

You're correct, they are. One of the problems is that the period in question is the least clear, and there is some dispute of the chronology of things. If I get a moment (unlikely) I will try to add some sources. --Calthinus (talk) 18:45, 7 August 2018 (UTC)

Merger of "pot" and "peau"[edit]

In the 19th century there still was -- and perhaps in some dialectal accents there still is to this day -- a distinction between /ɔ/ and /o/ in word-final position, such that "pot" is /pɔ/ and "peau" is /po/. No real mention seems to be made of this distinction and its loss. (talk) 20:30, 28 June 2019 (UTC)