Old French (franceis, françois, romanz; Modern French: ancien français) was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. In the 14th century, these dialects came to be collectively known as the langue d'oïl, contrasting with the langue d'oc or Occitan language in the south of France. The mid-14th century is taken as the transitional period to Middle French, the language of the French Renaissance, specifically based on the dialect of the Île-de-France region.
The place and area where Old French was spoken natively roughly extended to the northern half of the Kingdom of France and its vassals (including parts of the Angevin Empire, which during the 12th century remained under Anglo-Norman rule), and the duchies of Upper and Lower Lorraine to the east (corresponding to modern north-eastern France and Belgian Wallonia), but the influence of Old French was much wider, as it was carried to England and the Crusader states as the language of a feudal elite and of commerce.
|Franceis, François, Romanz|
|Pronunciation||[fɾãntsejs], [fɾãntsɔjs], [romãnts]|
|Region||northern France, parts of Belgium (Wallonia), England, Ireland, Principality of Antioch, Kingdom of Cyprus|
|Era||evolved into Middle French by the 14th century|
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 area in the south-west, and with the Gallo-Italic 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 langue d'oïl as early as the 9th century, and is attested as a distinct Gallo-Romance variety by the 12th century.
Dialects or variants of Old French included:
Some modern languages are derived from Old French dialects other than Classical French, which is based on the Île-de-France dialect. They include Angevin, Berrichon, Bourguignon-Morvandiau, Champenois, Franc-Comtois, Gallo, Lorrain, Norman, Picard, Poitevin, Saintongeais and Walloon.
Beginning with Plautus's time (254–184 b.c.), one can see phonological changes between Classical Latin and what is called Vulgar Latin, the common spoken language of the Western Roman Empire. Vulgar Latin differed from Classical Latin in phonology and morphology as well as exhibiting lexical differences. However they were mutually intelligible until the 7th century when Classical Latin 'died' as a daily spoken language, and had to be learned as a second language (though it was long thought of as the formal version of the spoken language). Vulgar Latin 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, and, by extension, English cavalry. An estimated 200 words of Gaulish etymology survive in modern French, for example chêne 'oak tree' and charrue 'plough'.
Within historical phonology and studies of language contact, various phonological changes have been posited as caused by a Gaulish substrate, although there is some debate. One of these is considered certain, because this fact is clearly attested in the Gaulish-language epigraphy on the pottery found at la Graufesenque (A.D. 1st century). There, the Greek word paropsid-es (written in Latin) appears as paraxsid-i. The consonant clusters /ps/ and /pt/ shifted to /xs/ and /xt/, e.g. Latin capsa > *kaxsa > caisse (≠ Italian cassa) or captīvus > *kaxtivus > OF chaitif (mod. chétif; cf. Irish cacht 'servant'; ≠ Italian cattiv-ità, Portuguese "cativo", Spanish cautivo). This phonetic evolution is parallel to the shift of the Latin cluster /kt/ in Old French (Latin factum > fait, ≠ Italian fatto, Portuguese feito, Spanish hecho; or lactem* > lait, ≠ Italian latte, Portuguese leite, Spanish leche).
The Celtic Gaulish language is thought to have survived into the 6th century in France, despite considerable cultural Romanization. Coexisting with Latin, Gaulish helped shape the Vulgar Latin dialects that developed into French, with effects including loanwords and calques (including oui, the word for "yes"), sound changes shaped by Gaulish influence, and influences in conjugation and word order. Recent computational studies suggest that early gender shifts may have been motivated by the gender of the corresponding word in Gaulish.
The pronunciation, vocabulary, and syntax of the Vulgar Latin spoken in Roman Gaul in Late Antiquity was modified by the Old Frankish language, spoken by the Franks who settled in Gaul from the 5th century and conquered the entire Old French-speaking area by the 530s. The name français itself is derived from the name the Franks.
The Old Frankish language had a definitive influence on the development of Old French, which partly explains why the earliest attested Old French documents are older than the earliest attestations in other Romance languages (e.g. Strasbourg Oaths, Sequence of Saint Eulalia). It is the result of an earlier gap created between Classical Latin and its evolved forms, which slowly reduced and eventually severed the intercomprehensibility between the two. The Old Low Franconian 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 unaccented syllable and of the final vowels:
Additionally, two phonemes that had long since died out in Vulgar Latin were reintroduced: [h] and [w] (> OF g(u)-, ONF w- cf. Picard w-):
On the opposite, the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish words of Germanic origin borrowed from French or directly from Germanic retain /gw/ ~ /g/, e.g. It, Sp. guerra 'war', alongside /g/ in French guerre). In these examples, we notice a clear consequence of bilingualism, that sometimes even changed the first syllable of the Latin words. One example of a Latin word influencing an Old Low Franconian loan is framboise 'raspberry', from OF frambeise, from OLF *brāmbesi 'blackberry' (cf. Dutch braambes, braambezie; akin to German Brombeere, English dial. bramberry) 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, Occitan fraga, Romanian fragă, Italian fragola, fravola 'strawberry').
Pope (1934) estimated that perhaps still 15% of the vocabulary of modern French derives from Germanic sources (while the proportion was larger in Old French, because the French language borrowed heavily from Latin and Italian).
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 the Gallo-Romance that prefigures 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.
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 Île-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. It was only in the 17th to 18th centuries – with the development especially of popular literature of the Bibliothèque bleue – that a standardized Classical French spread throughout France alongside the regional dialects.
The material and cultural conditions in France and associated territories around the year 1100 triggered what Charles Homer Haskins termed the "Renaissance of the 12th century", resulting in a profusion of creative works in a variety of genres. Old French gave way to Middle French in the mid-14th century, paving the way for early French Renaissance literature of the 15th century.
The earliest extant French literary texts date from the ninth century, but very few texts before the 11th century have survived. The first literary works written in Old French were saints' lives. The Canticle of Saint Eulalie, written in the second half of the 9th century, is generally accepted as the first such text.
At the beginning of the 13th century, Jean Bodel, in his Chanson de Saisnes, divided medieval French narrative literature into three subject areas: the Matter of France or Matter of Charlemagne; the Matter of Rome (romances in an ancient setting); and the Matter of Britain (Arthurian romances and Breton lais). The first of these is the subject area of the chansons de geste ("songs of exploits" or "songs of (heroic) deeds"), epic poems typically composed in ten-syllable assonanced (occasionally rhymed) laisses. More than one hundred chansons de geste have survived in around three hundred manuscripts. The oldest and most celebrated of the chansons de geste is The Song of Roland (earliest version composed in the late 11th century).
Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube in his Girart de Vienne set out a grouping of the chansons de geste into three cycles: the Geste du roi centering on Charlemagne, the Geste de Garin de Monglane (whose central character was William of Orange), and the Geste de Doon de Mayence or the "rebel vassal cycle", the most famous characters of which were Renaud de Montauban and Girart de Roussillon. A fourth grouping, not listed by Bertrand, is the Crusade cycle, dealing with the First Crusade and its immediate aftermath.
Jean Bodel's other two categories—the "Matter of Rome" and the "Matter of Britain"—concern the French romance or roman. Around a hundred verse romances survive from the period 1150–1220. From around 1200 on, the tendency was increasingly to write the romances in prose (many of the earlier verse romances were adapted into prose versions), although new verse romances continued to be written to the end of the 14th century. The most important romance of the 13th century is the Romance of the Rose which breaks considerably from the conventions of the chivalric adventure story.
Medieval French lyric poetry was indebted to the poetic and cultural traditions in Southern France and Provence—including Toulouse, Poitiers, and the Aquitaine region—where langue d'oc was spoken (Occitan language); in their turn, the Provençal poets were greatly influenced by poetic traditions from the Hispano-Arab world. The Occitan or Provençal poets were called troubadours, from the word trobar "to find, to invent". Lyric poets in Old French are called trouvères.
By the late 13th century, the poetic tradition in France had begun to develop in ways that differed significantly from the troubadour poets, both in content and in the use of certain fixed forms. The new poetic (as well as musical: some of the earliest medieval music has lyrics composed in Old French by the earliest composers known by name) tendencies are apparent in the Roman de Fauvel in 1310 and 1314, a satire on abuses in the medieval church, filled with medieval motets, lais, rondeaux and other new secular forms of poetry and music (mostly anonymous, but with several pieces by Philippe de Vitry, who would coin the expression ars nova to distinguish the new musical practice from the music of the immediately preceding age). The best-known poet and composer of ars nova secular music and chansons of the incipient Middle French period was Guillaume de Machaut.
Discussions about the origins of non-religious theater (théâtre profane) – both drama and farce—in the Middle Ages remain controversial, but the idea of a continuous popular tradition stemming from Latin comedy and tragedy to the 9th century seems unlikely. Most historians place the origin of medieval drama in the church's liturgical dialogues and "tropes". Mystery plays were eventually transferred from the monastery church to the chapter house or refectory hall and finally to the open air, and the vernacular was substituted for Latin. In the 12th century one finds the earliest extant passages in French appearing as refrains inserted into liturgical dramas in Latin, such as a Saint Nicholas (patron saint of the student clercs) play and a Saint Stephen play. An early French dramatic play is Le Jeu d'Adam (c. 1150) written in octosyllabic rhymed couplets with Latin stage directions (implying that it was written by Latin-speaking clerics for a lay public).
A large body of fables survive in Old French; these include (mostly anonymous) literature dealing with the recurring trickster character of Reynard the Fox. Marie de France was also active in this genre, producing the Ysopet (Little Aesop) series of fables in verse. Related to the fable was the more bawdy fabliau, which covered topics such as cuckolding and corrupt clergy. These fabliaux would be an important source for Chaucer and for the Renaissance short story (conte or nouvelle).
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|
|Affricate||ts dz||tʃ dʒ|
|Fricative||f v||s z||(h)|
In Old French, the nasal vowels were not separate phonemes but only allophones of the oral vowels before a nasal consonant. The nasal consonant was fully pronounced; 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]).
|nasal||[ĩ ] [ỹ]|
|/ew/ ~ /øw/||neveu||nephew|
|/iw/ ~ /iɥ/||tiule||tile|
|/we/ ~ /wø/||cuer||heart|
|/wẽ/||cuens||count (nom. sg.)|
stress always falls on middle vowel
|/wew/ ~ /wøw/||jueu||Jew|
In addition to diphthongs, Old French had many instances of hiatus between adjacent vowels because of the loss of an intervening consonant. Manuscripts generally do not distinguish hiatus from true diphthongs, but modern scholarly transcription indicates it with a diaeresis, as in Modern French:
Old French maintained a two-case system, with a nominative case and an oblique case, for longer than some other Romance languages like Spanish and Italian did. Case distinctions, at least in the masculine gender, were marked on both the definite article and the noun itself. Thus, the masculine noun li veisins "the neighbour" (Latin vicīnus /wɪˈkiːnʊs/ > Proto-Western-Romance *vecínos /veˈt͡sinos/ > OF veisins /vejˈzĩns/; Modern French le voisin /vwazɛ̃/) was declined as follows:
|Latin||Vulgar Latin||Old French|
|Singular||nominative||ille vicīnus||(il)le vicīnos||li veisins|
|oblique (Latin accusative)||illum vicīnum||(il)lo vicīno||le veisin|
|Plural||nominative||illī vicīnī||(il)lī vicīni||li veisin|
|oblique (Latin accusative)||illōs vicīnōs||(il)los vicīnos||les veisins|
In later Old French, the distinctions had become 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 (Latin accusative īnfāntem); the Old French nominative was li enfes (Latin īnfāns). There are some cases with significant differences between nominative and oblique forms (derived from Latin nouns with a stress shift between the nominative and other cases) in which either it is the nominative form that survives or both forms survive with different meanings:
In a few cases in which 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 fīlius), spelled 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 most old neuter nouns became masculine. Some Latin neuter plurals were reanalysed as feminine singulars: Latin gaudium 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 citez||li veisins||li sergenz||li pere|
|oblique||la rien||la cité||le veisin||le sergent||le pere|
|pl.||nominative||les fames||les riens||les citez||li veisin||li sergent||li pere|
|oblique||les veisins||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 sieur||le conte|
|pl.||nominative||li chanteor||li baron||les nones||les serors||li enfant||li prevoire||li sieur||li conte|
|oblique||les chanteors||les barons||les nonains||les serors||les enfanz||les prevoires||les sieurs||les contes|
Class I is derived from the Latin first declension. Class Ia mostly comes from Latin feminine nouns in the third declension. 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; in both cases, the Latin nominative singular did not end in -s, which is preserved in Old French.
The classes show various analogical developments: -es from the accusative instead of -∅ (-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 -ātor, -ātōrem in Latin and preserve the stress shift; IIIb nouns also had a stress shift, from -ō to -ōnem. 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 a change of consonant (soror, sorōrem; īnfāns, īnfāntem; presbyter, presbyterem; seiior, seiiōrem; comes, comitem).
Regular feminine forms of masculine nouns are formed by adding an -e to the masculine stem unless 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 that they are qualifying. Thus, a feminine plural noun in the nominative case requires any qualifying adjectives to be feminine, plural and nominative. For example, in femes riches, riche has to be in the feminine plural form.
Adjectives can be divided into three declensional classes:
Class I adjectives have a feminine singular form (nominative and oblique) ending in -e. They 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:
For Class Ib adjectives, the masculine nominative singular ends in -e, like the feminine. There are descendants of Latin second- and third-declension adjectives ending in -er in the nominative singular:
For Class II adjectives, the feminine singular is not marked by the ending -e:
An important subgroup of Class II adjectives is the present participial forms in -ant.
Class III adjectives have a stem alternation, resulting from stress shift in the Latin third declension and a distinct neuter form:
In later Old French, Classes II and III tended to be moved across to Class I, which was complete by Middle French. Modern French thus has only a single adjective declension, unlike most other Romance languages, which have two or more.
Verbs in Old French show the same extreme phonological deformations as other Old French words. Morphologically, however, Old French verbs are extremely conservative in preserving intact most of the Latin alternations and irregularities that had been inherited in Proto-Romance. Old French has much less analogical reformation than Modern French has and significantly less than the oldest stages of other languages (such as 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" (Latin lavāre) 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. The following paradigm is typical in showing the phonologically regular but morphologically irregular alternations of most paradigms:
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, with a regular -e ) and wholesale replacement of the subjunctive with forms modelled on -ir/-oir/-re verbs. All 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 the syllables. That 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, but 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: 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, at least five vowels diphthongized in stressed, open syllables. Combined with other stress-dependent developments, that 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||maneir, manoir||"to remain"|
|/je/||/e/||palatal + free /a/||*accapāre||achieve||achever||"to achieve"|
|/i/||/e/||palatal + /a/ + palatal||*concacāre||conchie||concheer||"to expel"||iacēre||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 torment, make suffer"|
|/je/||/e/||free /ɛ/||levāre||lieve||lever||"to raise"||sedēre||siet||seeir, seoir||"to sit; suit, be fitting"|
|/jẽ/||/ẽ/||free /ɛ/ + nasal||tremere >
|crient||creindre (var. cremir, -oir)||"to fear"|
|/i/||/ej/||/ɛ/ + palatal||pretiāre||prise||preiser||"to value"||exīre||ist||eissir||"to exit, go out"|
|/ɛ/||/e/||intertonic /ɛ, e/ + double cons.||appellāre||apele||apeler||"to call"|
|/oj/||/e/||free /e/||adhaerāre >
|/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||truver||"to invent, discover"||morī >
|/uj/||/oj/||/ɔ/ + palatal||*appodiāre||apuie||apoiier||"to lean"|
|/ew/||/u/||free /o/||dēmōrārī||demeure||demo(u)rer||"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 levelled. Generally, the "weak" (unstressed) form predominates, but there are some exceptions (such as modern aimer/nous aimons). The only remaining alternations are in verbs like acheter/j'achète and jeter/je jette, with unstressed /ə/ alternating with stressed /ɛ/ and in (largely-learned) verbs like adhérer/j'adhère, with unstressed /e/ alternating with stressed /ɛ/. Many of the non-er verbs have become obsolete, and many of the remaining verbs have been levelled. A few alternations remain, however, in what are now known as irregular verbs, such as je tiens, nous tenons; je dois, nous devons and 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. That was a regular development stemming from the loss of unstressed intertonic vowels, which remained when they were stressed:
The alternation of je desjun, disner is particularly complicated; it appears that disiēiūnāre > Western Romance /desjejuˈnare > /desjejˈnare/ (preliminary intertonic loss) > /desiˈnare/ (triphthong reduction) > /disiˈnare/ (metaphony) > /disˈner/ (further intertonic loss and other proto-French developments). Both 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 (< *disi(ēi)ūnō, with total loss of unstressed -ēi-). Instead, it comes from Old French desjeüner, based on the alternative form je desjeün (< *disiē(i)ūnō, with loss of only -i-, likely influenced by jeûner "to fast" < Old French jeüner < je jeün /d͡ʒe.ˈyn/ "I fast" < iē(i)ūnō: iē- is an initial rather than intertonic so the vowel -ē- does not disappear).
Auxiliary verb: avoir
Auxiliary verb: avoir
Auxiliary verb: estre
Auxiliary verb: avoir
esteie > estoie
|seie > soie||fusse||sereie > seroie
estreie > estroie
esteies > estoies
|seies > soies||fusses||sereies > seroies
estreies > estroies
|seies > soies|
esteit > estoit
|seit > soit||fust||sereit > seroit
estreit > estroit
|nos||somes, esmes||fumes||eriiens, erions
|seiiens, seions > soiiens, soions||fussons/-iens||seriiens, serions
|seiiens > soiiens, seions > soions|
|seiiez > soiiez||fusseiz/-ez/-iez||seriiez
|seiiez > soiiez|
esteient > estoient
|seient > soient||fussent||sereient > seroient
estreient > estroient
Auxiliary verb: avoir
Le déclin du Gaulois et sa disparition ne s'expliquent pas seulement par des pratiques culturelles spécifiques: Lorsque les Romains conduits par César envahirent la Gaule, au 1er siecle avant J.-C., celle-ci romanisa de manière progressive et profonde. Pendant près de 500 ans, la fameuse période gallo-romaine, le gaulois et le latin parlé coexistèrent; au VIe siècle encore; le temoignage de Grégoire de Tours atteste la survivance de la langue gauloise.
Ambergris ( or , Latin: ambra grisea, Old French: ambre gris), ambergrease, or grey amber, is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, fecal odor. However, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent as it ages, commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency.Ambergris has been very highly valued by perfumers as a fixative that allows the scent to last much longer, although it has been mostly replaced by synthetic ambroxan. Dogs are known to be attracted to the smell of ambergris and are therefore sometimes used by ambergris searchers.Barbican
A barbican (from Old French: barbacane) is a fortified outpost or gateway, such as an outer defence to a city or castle, or any tower situated over a gate or bridge which was used for defensive purposes.
Usually barbicans were situated outside the main line of defences and connected to the city walls with a walled road called the neck. In the 15th century, with the improvement in siege tactics and artillery, barbicans lost their significance. However, several barbicans were built even in the 16th century.
Fortified or mock-fortified gatehouses remained a feature of ambitious French and English residences into the 17th century.
Fortifications in East Asia also featured similar structures. In particular, gates in Chinese city walls were often defended by an additional "archery tower" in front of the main gatehouse, with the two towers connected by walls extending out from the main fortification. Called literally "jar walls", they are often referred to as "barbicans" in English.Bay (architecture)
In architecture, a bay is the space between architectural elements, or a recess or compartment. Bay comes from Old French baee, meaning an opening or hole.Coriander
Coriander (; Coriandrum sativum), also known as Chinese parsley, the stems and leaves of which are usually called cilantro () in North America, is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds (as a spice) are the parts most traditionally used in cooking.
Most people perceive the taste of coriander leaves as a tart, lemon/lime taste, but a smaller group of about 4–14% of people tested think the leaves taste like bath soap, as linked to a gene which detects aldehyde chemicals present in both.Couch
A couch (U.S. English, Irish English, Australian English and South African English), also known as a sofa, futon, or settee (British English) is a piece of furniture for seating two or three people in the form of a bench, with armrests, which is partially or entirely upholstered, and often fitted with springs and tailored cushions. Although a couch is used primarily for seating, it may be used for sleeping. In homes, couches are normally found in the family room, living room, den, or the lounge. They are sometimes also found in non-residential settings such as hotels, lobbies of commercial offices, waiting rooms, and bars.Crayfish
Crayfish, also known as crawfish, crawdads, crawlfish, crawldads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs, or yabbies are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters (to which they are related). Taxonomically, they are members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea. They breathe through feather-like gills. Some species are found in brooks and streams where there is running fresh water, while others thrive in swamps, ditches, and paddy fields. Most crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water, although some species such as Procambarus clarkii are hardier. Crayfish feed on animals and plants, either living or decomposing, and detritus.Demesne
In the feudal system, the demesne ( di-MAYN) was all the land which was retained by a lord of the manor for his own use and occupation or support, under his own management, as distinguished from land sub-enfeoffed by him to others as sub-tenants. In England, royal demesne is the land held by the Crown, and ancient demesne is the legal term for the land held by the king at the time of the Domesday Book.Escrow
Being in escrow is a contractual arrangement in which a third party (the stakeholder or escrow agent) receives and disburses money or property for the primary transacting parties, most generally, used with plentiful terms that conduct the rightful actions that follow. The disbursement is dependent on conditions agreed to by the transacting parties. Examples include an account established by a broker for holding funds on behalf of the broker's principal or some other person until the consummation or termination of a transaction; or, a trust account held in the borrower's name to pay obligations such as property taxes and insurance premiums. The word derives from the Old French word escroue, meaning a scrap of paper or a scroll of parchment; this indicated the deed that a third party held until a transaction was completed.Falcon
Falcons () are birds of prey in the genus Falco, which includes about 40 species. Falcons are widely distributed on all continents of the world except Antarctica, though closely related raptors did occur there in the Eocene.Adult falcons have thin, tapered wings, which enable them to fly at high speed and change direction rapidly. Fledgling falcons, in their first year of flying, have longer flight feathers, which make their configuration more like that of a general-purpose bird such as a broad-wing. This makes flying easier while learning the exceptional skills required to be effective hunters as adults. There are many different types of falcon.
The falcons are the largest genus in the Falconinae subfamily of Falconidae, which itself also includes another subfamily comprising caracaras and a few other species. All these birds kill with their beaks, using a "tooth" on the side of their beaks—unlike the hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey in the Accipitridae, which use their feet.
The largest falcon is the gyrfalcon at up to 65 cm in length. The smallest falcons are the kestrels, of which the Seychelles kestrel measures just 25 cm. As with hawks and owls, falcons exhibit sexual dimorphism, with the females typically larger than the males, thus allowing a wider range of prey species.Some small falcons with long, narrow wings are called "hobbies" and some which hover while hunting are called "kestrels".As is the case with many birds of prey, falcons have exceptional powers of vision; the visual acuity of one species has been measured at 2.6 times that of a normal human. Peregrine falcons have been recorded diving at speeds of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), making them the fastest-moving creatures on Earth. The fastest recorded dive for one is 390 km/h.Frankincense
Frankincense (also known as olibanum, Hebrew: לבונה [levona], Arabic: اللبان al-libān or Arabic: البخور al-bakhūr) is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae, particularly Boswellia sacra (syn. B. bhaw-dajiana), B. carterii, B. frereana, B. serrata (B. thurifera, Indian frankincense), and B. papyrifera. The word is from Old French franc encens ("high-quality incense").There are five main species of Boswellia that produce true frankincense. Resin from each of the five is available in various grades, which depend on the time of harvesting. The resin is hand-sorted for quality.French Sign Language family
The French Sign Language (LSF) or Francosign family is a language family of sign languages which includes French Sign Language and American Sign Language.
The FSL family descends from Old French Sign Language, which developed among the deaf community in Paris. The earliest mention of Old French Sign Language is by the abbé Charles-Michel de l'Épée in the late 17th century, but it could have existed for centuries prior. Several European sign languages, such as Russian Sign Language, derive from it, as does American Sign Language, established when French educator Laurent Clerc taught his language at the American School for the Deaf. Others, such as Spanish Sign Language, are thought to be related to French Sign Language even if they are not directly descendant from it.French language
French (le français [lə fʁɑ̃sɛ] (listen) or la langue française [la lɑ̃ɡ fʁɑ̃sɛːz]) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
French is an official language in 29 countries across multiple different continents, most of which are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the community of 84 countries which share the official use or teaching of French. It is spoken as a first language (in descending order of the number of speakers) in France, Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick as well as other Francophone regions, Belgium (Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region), western Switzerland (cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel, Vaud, Valais), Monaco, parts of the United States (Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont), partly in Luxembourg and in northern Italy (region of Aosta Valley), and by various communities elsewhere. In 2015, approximately 40% of the francophone population (including L2 and partial speakers) lived in Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Middle East, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia and Oceania. French is the fourth most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union, Of Europeans who speak other languages natively, approximately one-fifth are able to speak French as a second language. French is the second most taught foreign language in the EU. French is also the 18th most natively spoken language in the world, 6th most spoken language by total number of speakers and the second most studied language worldwide (with about 120 million current learners).As a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 16th century onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Most second-language speakers reside in Francophone Africa, in particular Gabon, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritius, Senegal and Ivory Coast.French is estimated to have about 76 million native speakers and about 235 million daily, fluent speakers and another 77 to 110 million secondary speakers who speak it as a second language to varying degrees of proficiency, mainly in Africa. According to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), approximately 300 million people worldwide are "able to speak the language", without specifying the criteria for this estimation or whom it encompasses. According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence universitaire de la francophonie, the total number of French speakers will reach approximately 500 million in 2025 and 650 million by 2050. OIF estimates 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa.French has a long history as an international language of literature and scientific standards and is a primary or second language of many international organisations including the United Nations, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked French the third most useful language for business, after English and Standard Mandarin Chinese.Hamlet (place)
A hamlet is a small human settlement. In different jurisdictions and geographies, hamlets may be the size of a town, village or parish, be considered a smaller settlement or subdivision or satellite entity to a larger settlement. The word and concept of a hamlet have roots in the Anglo-Norman settlement of England, where the old French hamlet came to apply to small human settlements. In British geography, a hamlet is considered smaller than a village and distinctly without a church (one road with houses either side).Jargon
Jargon is specialized terminology used to define specific words and phrases used in a particular profession, trade, or group.Jargon is a type of language that is used in a particular context and may not be well understood outside that context. The context is usually a particular occupation (that is, a certain trade, profession, vernacular, or academic field), but any in a group can have jargon. The main trait that distinguishes jargon from the rest of a language is special vocabulary—including some words specific to it, and often different senses or meanings of words, that out-groups would tend to take in another sense—therefore misunderstanding that communication attempt.Jousting
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two horsemen wielding lances with blunted tips, often as part of a tournament. The primary aim was to replicate a clash of heavy cavalry, with each participant trying hard to strike the opponent while riding towards him at high speed, breaking the lance on the opponent's shield or jousting armour if possible, or unhorsing him. The joust became an iconic characteristic of the knight in Romantic medievalism. The participants experience close to three and a quarter times their body weight in G-forces when the lances collide with their armour.The term is derived from Old French joster, ultimately from Latin iuxtare "to approach, to meet". The word was loaned into Middle English around 1300, when jousting was a very popular sport among the Anglo-Norman knighthood. The synonym tilt dates c. 1510.
Jousting is based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. It transformed into a specialised sport during the Late Middle Ages, and remained popular with the nobility in England and Wales, Germany and other parts of Europe throughout the whole of the 16th century (while in France, it was discontinued after the death of King Henry II in an accident in 1559). In England, jousting was the highlight of the Accession Day tilts of Elizabeth I and of James VI and I, and also was part of the festivities at the marriage of Charles I.From 10 July to 9 August 1434, the Leonese Knight Suero de Quiñones and ten of his companions encamped in a field beside a bridge and challenged each knight who wished to cross it to a joust. This road was used by pilgrims all over Europe on the way to shrine at Santiago de Compostela, and at this time of the summer, many thousands would cross the bridge. Suero and his men swore to "break 300 lances" before moving on. The men fought for over a month, and after 166 battles Suero and his men were so injured they could not continue and declared the mission complete.Jousting was discontinued in favour of other equestrian sports in the 17th century, although non-contact forms of "equestrian skill-at-arms" disciplines survived. There has been a limited revival of theatrical jousting re-enactment since the 1970s.Marquess
A marquess (UK: ; French: marquis, [mɑʁki]) is a nobleman of high hereditary rank in various European peerages and in those of some of their former colonies. The term is also used to translate equivalent Asian styles, as in Imperial China and Imperial Japan.
In the German lands, a margrave was a ruler of an immediate Imperial territory (examples include the Margrave of Brandenburg, the Margrave of Baden and the Margrave of Bayreuth), not simply a nobleman like a marquess or marquis in Western and Southern Europe. German rulers did not confer the title of marquis; holders of marquisates in Central Europe were largely associated with the Italian and Spanish crowns.Melee
Melee ( or , French: mêlée [mɛle]) or pell-mell battle generally refers to disorganized close combat in battles fought at abnormally close range with little central control once it starts.In the 1579 translation of Plutarch's Lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes, Sir Thomas North uses the term 'pelmel' to refer to a disorganized retreat. The phrase was later used in its current spelling in Shakespeare's Richard III, 1594:
March on, ioine brauelie, let vs to it pell mell, If not to heauen then hand in hand to hell.
The phrase comes from the French expression pêle-mêle, a rhyme based on the old French mesler, meaning to mix or mingle.
The French term melee was first used in English in c. 1640 (also derived from the old French mesler, but the Old French stem survives in medley and meddle).In military aviation, a melee has been described as "[a]n air battle in which several aircraft, both friend and foe, are confusingly intermingled".Lord Nelson described his tactics for the Battle of Trafalgar as inducing a "pell mell battle" focused on engagements between individual ships where the superior morale and skill of the Royal Navy would prevail.The destroyer night action of the second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November 1942, was so utterly chaotic and the ships were so intermingled that an officer on USS Monssen later likened it to "a barroom brawl after the lights had been shot out".Norsemen
The Norse people or Norsemen were a group of Germanic people who inhabited Scandinavia and spoke what is now called the Old Norse language between c. 800 and 1300 AD. The language belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages and is the predecessor of the modern Germanic languages of Scandinavia. In the late eighth century Norsemen embarked on a massive expansion in all directions. This was the start of the Viking Age.
In English-language scholarship since the nineteenth century, the Viking Age Norsemen, seafaring traders, settlers and warriors have commonly been referred to as Vikings. The Norse Scandinavians established polities and settlements in what are now England, Scotland, Iceland, Wales, the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Russia, Belarus, Greenland, France, Belgium, Ukraine, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland and Canada as well as Sicily.Z
Z (named zed or zee ) is the 26th and final letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.