The concept of former French gathers the whole of the Romance languages of the family of the Langues of oil spoken roughly in the northern half of the current French territory, since the 10th century until the 14th century approximately.
Contrary to a rather widespread generally accepted idea at the French-speaking S and popularized by popular films as the Visitors (who do not have any accuracy Linguistique), which one hears in these cases there is not former French . What is often indicated thus is mainly traditional French even modern, that the speaker can in any case include/understand, often written in a older Orthographe.
However, former French is not comprehensible with a Francophone not having studied it specifically. Thus, the sentence Sçavoir let us make, with all have a presentiment of and to occur, that for at all pourveoir with the good of nostre justice, abbreviation of the lawsuits, and soulaigement of noz subiectz, by edict perpetual and irrevocable, ruled and ordered, rule and order the things which ensuyvent (drawn from the Ordonnance of Villers-Cotterêts, by François Ier, 1539) is not by no means of former French but preclassical French , or means-French, 16th century. On the contrary, following Towards of the Song of Roland : In ceste tere AD enough osteiet/France, AD Board, of deit Ben repairer/Your will sivrez it with the feste seint Michel/If will receive the lei chrestiens/Will be its hom by honur E by Ben , are well of former French.
Confusion is explained especially by the archaïsant character and sometimes diverting which to a text made up of words already identical to ours an orthography gives going back to before the 19th century, century to which one owes the current C-W communication of a majority of words. Thus, to sçavoir , subiectz or ensuyvent in the Ordonnance are only the forms written differently (but marked at the time in a way very close to ours) of:
- to know at that time (the C , dumb man, having been added at the time to point out the Latin étymon supposed scire , whereas the word comes from sapere - it is there a popular case of etymology),
- prone (, I and J are not differentiated with the writing, the B and the C , dumb men, were added to point out the Latin étymon subjectum and the - Z final is a misused archaism resulting from the medieval C-Ws communication but since normally the letter is a Abréviation for the /ts/ final; the T preceding is thus redundant),
- follow (with an esthetic there improving legibility).
Origins and descent
It comes from the Romance , form of Vulgar Latin present in all Romania. It is followed, Historiquement, by the Moyen French. These distinctions Temporelle S of the state of the Langue however were defined in a relatively arbitrary and recent way by the linguists. From the point of view of the speakers, the evolution or was not felt little, because the Latin evolved to the French continuously and progressive, without a cut being Perçue between various stages of this evolution.
To consult Phonetic history for more details.
The former French is the ancestor of the French spoken today. The appearance of a single Langue on the Territoire French is however very late and one must with several old languages of oil what constitutes the current language.
For example, it is estimated that the day before the French revolution, the three quarters of the French Population spoke a Dialecte or another Langue.
Importance of former French in the linguistic historyLanguage of culture and literature, it is very well attested and one can constitute his history with a high degree of accuracy (as well lexicalement, morphologiquement, Phonétique lies as syntactically). The series of phonetic evolutions having led this old language to the contemporary language is known with sufficient details so that a phonetic chain on the basis of Latin and arriving at French can be provided century per century. The study of French and his history cannot do without the knowledge of former French. Remainder, this matter (as its historical phonetic aspect) is obligatory with the CAPES of modern letters, with the Agrégation of traditional letters and of grammar, contest which one passes in France to teach the language and the literature Frenchwomen.
Evolutions and state of the languageAbout the former changes of the language at the time of former French, to see the article Romance Language in particular.
PhonologyOne used here to describe the phonological characteristics of the words the system of Bourciez, or alphabet of the novelists, usually used in phonological descriptions of the evolution of French. To consult System of Bourciez for a description of this system and a table of correspondences with the API.
Vowel systemThe traditional Latin used ten Phonème S vocalic S different, distributed in five short vowels (noted ă , ĕ , ĭ , ŏ and ŭ ) and their five long equivalents ( ā , ē , ī , ō and ū ). Indeed, in Latin, the length of the sound is phonological, i.e. relevant: two words can thus have as only difference the length of one their vowels ( vĕnit “it comes” is different from vēnit “it came”; pŏpulu (m) “people” is different from pōpulu (m) “poplar”).
One of the major changes occurred in the evolution of Latin into French is the progressive disappearance of the oppositions length to the profit of distinctions of stamp . The musical accent gradually left room to a tonic Accent, which caused to modify the Aperture slightly vowels: the pronunciation of the short vowels is slightly more open than that of the long vowels. Consequently, the stamp of the vowels is modified and the opposition of stamp between two vowels becomes the criterion of differentiation (one distinguishes ẹ closed in foot from ę open in milk , ọ in evils of ǫ in dead ). This vocalic upheaval occurred with the courses of, in the primitive phase of the evolution of French, still strong near to the vulgar Latin. The majority of the evolutions are consequently common to several Romance languages.
The vocalic upheaval arises as follows:
- ē becomes ẹ ( nose , die ) at the 2nd century;
- ĕ becomes ę ( , milk ) when it is accentuated (tonic vowel), if not (dull vowel) it becomes ẹ (2nd century);
- ĭ becomes ẹ at the 2nd century;
- ī remains I , without reference to length;
- ă and ā loses their opposition length, so that, from a phonological point of view, former French does not know that has ;
- ō becomes ọ ( water ) at the 2nd century;
- ŏ becomes ǫ ( body ) when it is accentuated, if not it becomes ọ (2nd century);
- ū loses its characteristic length, remains U ( insane , deaf );
- ŭ becomes ọ at the 4th century.
The three Diphthong S Latin present in the vulgar Latin, oe , ae and with the , will evolve respectively to ẹ (1st century), ę (2nd century) and ǫ (fine of the 5th century).
Towards a oxytonic language
In Latin, all the words have a tonic Accent. This accent is generally placed on penultimate the Syllabe of the word (one says of an accentuated word as it is paroxytones ), except if it is about a monosyllable, in which case the accent is inevitably on the only syllable of the word (word oxytone), or if it is about a polysyllable whose penultimate syllable is short (i.e. a syllable whose vowel is short and not blocked by a consonant which would follow it inside the syllable), in which case the accent is placed on the antepenultimate syllable (proparoxyton).
Latin syncopeAs from the 1st century, therefore already in vulgar Latin, one notices a progressive Amuïssement dull penultimate vowels: cál' ĭ due becomes cáldus , ámb ŭ lat becomes ámblat , gén ĭ your becomes génte . This outstanding evolution will be completely completed at the 5th century. At that time, the majority of let us proparoxytons thus became of the paroxytones: with the disappearance of the penultimate vowel which followed the tonic vowel, the latter “moved back of a box”.
Disappearance of the pretonic internsThe internal pretonic vowels (i.e. dull, placed before the tonic but not in initial position), except for has , disappear before the 4th century when they are not blocked: bon' ĭ tátem will become kindness , comp u' táre will become to count . If it is blocked by a consonant, the vowel will evolve to /e ̥/(a Schwa, i.e. a “'' E '' null and void” not labialized, different from ours in the E or in p e' tit ), as in app' e' lláre , which will give former French ap' e' ler .
When the pretonic intern is a has , is, if it is blocked, it persists ( ĭnt' a' minatáre will give ent' a' sea ), that is to say, if it is free, it becomes /e ̥/about the 7th century ( firm' a' lies will give ferm' e' lies ).
MorphologyOn the morphological level, former French is still a inflected Language (modern French is definitely more analytical), but it presents already a great reduction of the inflections compared to the Latin .
The system of the name knows two Cas and two numbers: prone Cas and Objective case (for all that is not prone). If the prone case comes from the Latin Nominatif, the objective case comes as for him from the accusative. The Lexique French current inherited former French left the objective case, most frequent in the speech.
For example, the word wall was declined as follows:
- prone case → Li walls (Latin: murus );
- objective case → the wall (Latin: murum );
- prone case → Li wall (Latin: matured );
- objective case → the walls (Latin: muros ).
The current inflection is summarized well with the only old objective case: the wall / the walls .
Dialectal variations and literary languagepreparation
WritingIt would be exaggerated to say that there is not “old-French orthography”; it is advisable to indeed define what one understands by there. It is notable that each word does not have a fixed C-W communication and that, of area in area, of scribe as a scribe even of line on line, the same word is written very many ways. However, the medieval C-Ws communication are not due randomly.
The scribes used a seemingly simple principle: that to note all that they heard most directly possible by means of the Latin alphabet, enough misfit because too not very rich in Graphème S. Indeed, while passing from the Vulgar Latin with former French, of many Phonème S evolved/moved, giving rise to new sounds for which no letter was planned.
Writing and orthographyNote: from now, the adopted transcription is that of the API.
Moreover, there existed only little of diacritic real, the majority being used as signs of Abréviation (the Diacritiques used in French date from the 16th century), the elision was not announced by the apostrophizes (appearance at the 16th century), the writing, although bicameral, did not serve before the 14th century of the opposition between capital and tiny (the capital is used as graphic alternative and is thus in the titles, at the beginning of the towards). It is after one took the practice to announce by the capital letter the beginning of certain important felt words.
The Ponctuation starts to resemble ours only from. The uses are however very different (one notes especially the groups of breath and direction, but not inevitably in the respect of syntax). One notices the use of the not to frame letters used like figures (“.iij. ” will thus be read “3”).
Moreover, manuscripts medieval are traced in two or three families of characters of Latin alphabet (in which one distinguishes from innumerable alternatives), less and less readable compared to the Latin model (more especially as the abbreviations, the Ligature S and the contextual alternatives abound): the Uncial , the Tiny Caroline then the Gothic . These “alphabets” do not distinguish I from J (which do not have a Point as a chief) nor U of v (known as “Lettres ramists”; this distinction dates from the 16th century and spent two centuries to stabilize grace, in particular, with the Dutch editors), at least not in the same manner that we (they are contextual alternatives: in Gothic, v is used preferably at the beginning of word, U elsewhere, whatever their value, of read or life ; J , or I long , serves when continuations of letter would be illegible, like semi , which would be, in a light gothic script, near visually to ιιιιιιι). The I does not have a point but often receives a apex so that it better is distinguished. Other processes are notable, the such use of a L vestige become U by Vocalisation but present in the Latin étymon to very avoid that one confuses U and N , close relations in Gothic (case of diacritic Lettre dumb but being used to specify the reading; at the 16th century, their employment will intensify). Another letter dumb (since the 11th century) but preserved in the writing (and replaced later in some cases by a circumflex accent), the S in front of a consonant, layout then like a '' S '' long.
It is only at the beginning of the 15th century that the Humanistes, in the search of more readable and ventilated models that the gothic script, sometimes very esoteric to the layman, were allocated to C-Ws communication closer to the current writing (humanistic Minuscule, Italique…). Printing works will mark the progressive end of the calligraphic C-Ws communication to the profit of increasingly readable models which, finally, gave those that one can read on a screen of computer.
The modern editors, however, generally standardize the texts to facilitate the reading. The C-W communication used is that of the current police forces (Times New Roman, Arial…) with the Letters ramists, one uses the Acute accent to distinguish the “E” null and void dull from final /e/ tonic ( after = after , heart = liked ), the Tréma, the apostrophizes, the Cédille the Ponctuation and the Majuscule S as in current French ( meïsme = even ; does not like ; launched ).
UsesAlthough the C-Ws communication can be very fluctuating (even from one line to another in the same manuscript) especially because of the great number of means found to circumvent the limits of the Latin alphabet, there exist orthographical uses as former French, who generally utilizes of the Digramme S.
It is the will to respect the Latin uses as well as the etymological origin of the words (what reinforces the idea of medieval orthography) which explain the difficulties: generally, they are born owing to the fact that the same Latin letter, which noted only one Phonème then, came from there to note some several (but one breaks only seldom the bond with the Latin word while being satisfied to replace the ambiguous letter by another), and, especially, there do not exist letters to note new sounds appeared as former French. For the first reason, one can quote the case of the notation nonambiguous of /s/ in front of /a/, /o/, /u/ with the letter C and conversely that of /k/ in front of/ə/, /e/, /i/, /y/ with the same Latin letter or the use of G , which can be worth/ʒ/or /g/, according to the vowels. For the second, it is enough to mention the Latin inexistence of the phonemes/ʃ/,/œ/and, of the various stamps of /e/ (tonic - opened or closed - or dull) or of /o/ (opened or closed) and of the Nasalisation.
Among the uses selected and frequent, one finds:
- for /t ͡s/(become /s/ at the 13th century) resulting from C in front of /a/, /o/, /u/: digraphs this or cz ( Z , subscribed, will become the Cédille in Spain, where one knows similar problems with this letter), sometimes nothing: lacea , lacza (for laced).
- for /d ͡ʒ/(become/ʒ/at the 13th century) resulting from G in front of/ə/, /e/, /i/, /y/: use of I or Ge ;
- for /t ͡ʃ/(become/ʃ/at the 13th century), digraph CH , with the imitation of Latin who had made use of the dumb letter H to create digraphs allowing to note foreign sounds (Greek, mainly) like CH for /k ʰ/or pH /p ʰ/(become /f/ in the loanwords to the imitation of the medieval Greek pronunciation);
- other digraphs for the sounds/œ/and/ø/: ue , have , for example;
- use of Z like dumb letter to indicate a /e/ tonic at the end of the word (digraph - ez ) in certain forms ( enough for enough ); Z is useful in the other cases for the Affriquée /ts/ ( neveuz for nephews );
- notation of the more or less explicit nasalisation of manner: gemination of the nasal Consonant or use of the Tilde, which was maintained a long time (one still finds it between);
- maintenance of the occlusive finales, normally dumb for the majority since the 13th century, to make visible certain alternations and the bond with derived ;
- /l/ palatal (become a yod ) is represented in various ways of which - (I) L or it ( girl ) and /n/ palatal by - (I) gn (thus, Montaigne is only one form parallel of mountain but the orthography strongly influenced the pronunciation, just as in onion , than one hears often marked /wa ɲõ/).
Other points to be retained: if former French is written almost as he decides, the C-Ws communication very quickly become archaïsantes. For example, equipped with many Diphthong S, it represents them directly: have is thus read /ew/ and oi /oj/. But the C-Ws communication remain fixed whereas the pronunciation continues to evolve/move: have is worth /ew/ at the 11th century but/œu/at the 12th century and/œ/as from the 13th century without the C-W communication really not changing. In the same way for oi : 12th century /oj/ then /ue/, 13th /we/ century (to arrive at /wa/ at the 18th century). That explains why /o/ can be written water in French: it is that at the 12th century one pronounced with a /eaw/ triphthong become during centuries/əaw/then/əo/in finally /o/ as from the 16th century. Occlusive and whistling supporting (against another consonant) as well as the final consonants continue to be written after being itself amuïes: one does not pronounce any more the S in isle after 1066 (on the other hand one continues has to pronounce it, until the XIII century, in forest ) either that the T at the end of grant as from the 12th century. One however continues to write them during centuries by tradition, choice esthetic and by practice: the T of grant (“large” and “large”) still means with the prone Cas grants : to preserve at the Objective case grant allows to obtain a more regular paradigm ( grants ~ grant is better than grants ~ gran ). The S dumb (at the end of the 18th century) will be later replaced by a circumflex accent, the T dumb by a D dumb in large to confirm this time the bond with new female the large while pointing out the Latin étymon grown .
Lastly, it is necessary to note the use of a very current abbreviation that the editors preserve: that of the finale - custom , very frequent, replaced after vowel by - X : biax is equivalent to biaus , i.e. the prone Cas of the beautiful adjective ( beautiful ).
In conclusion, it is advisable to understand that former French has an orthography quasi-phonetics practiced with an alphabet which does not lend themselves to it inevitably, which explains the abundance of parallel C-Ws communication and the various more or less effective solutions, the such Digramme S, but, especially, that as of the first steps of French the orthography, with the current direction, makes its appearances: the writing is late on the pronunciation but allows, by the adoption of conventions, a better recognition of the components of the words.
SynthesisOne can retain following conventions of reading on the basis of the principle which the C-W communication is standardized by a modern editor (use of the letters ramists, dieresis, acute accent, etc). One will follow for the remainder conventions specific to French. It is understood that it is an approximation given as an indication for an acceptable reading although imperfect:
- C is read /t ͡s/before the 13th century then /s/ afterwards in front of E , I ;
- CH is read /t ͡ʃ/before the 13th century then/ʃ/afterwards;
- G in front of E and I and J in front of any vowel is read /d ͡ʒ/then/ʒ/(same dates);
- (I) L is read/ʎ/(/l/ wet Castilian llamar or of Italian gli ) and not /j/ (of yoghourt );
- E not accentuated is read/ə/(Schwa) and is not labialized, contrary to the “E” null and void current (the/ə/former French is thus read as in English). At the end of the word and dull, it is dumb since the 17th century;
- U is read as in modern French /y/ (in read );
- the reading of the graphic diphthongs is complex because the marked diphthongs evolved/moved much more quickly than the C-W communication. One will be able to retain as regulates acceptable reading that the diphthongs are monophtonguées after the 12th century (passer by is with a combination Semi-consonne + vowel or vowel alone. To also retain that oi is read /we/ or /w ɛ/and ue like have /œ/or/ø/;
- the nasal vowels, written in the modern editions with the manner of current French (without tilde) are marked as in the south of France: the nasal vowel is followed of a nasal consonant. As former French even in front of a - E final, a vowel followed by a nasal consonant is nasalisée (in this case, the nasal one is redoubled). For example: cheance ( chance ) /t ͡ʃəãnsə/, good , room /t ͡ʃãmbrə/, flame /fl ãmə/. The nasal pronunciation of the vowels did not cease changing. It would be tiresome of all to announce them. One will be able to pronounce as in modern French (although the nasal ones of former French are of higher number and of sometimes different quality).
- R is rolled;
- S decides with the Frenchwoman, /s/ or /z/ (between vowels);
- Z is a short cut for ts ;
- X an abbreviation for - custom .
LiteratureTo consult medieval Literature .
- code ISO 639: fro
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