1902 Encyclopedia > France > French Language - Internal History: Vocabulary; Dialects; Phonology; Orthography; Inflexions; Derivation; Syntax; Summary

France
(Part 24)




FRENCH LANGUAGE (cont.)

Internal History: Vocabulary; Dialects; Phonology; Orthography; Inflexions; Derivation; Syntax; Summary


Internal History – So little has been done until recently, and so much remains to be done, in the scientific investigation of the sounds, inflexions, and syntax of the older stages and dialects of French, that what follows cannot claim to be more than a fragmentary sketch, mainly of the dialects-that which is now literary modern French, and those which were imported into England by the Normans- in which English readers will probably take most interest, and especially of the features which explain the forms of English words of French origin. Dates and places are only approximations, and many statements are liable to be modified by further researches; want of space obliges many exceptions and limitations to the general laws, and many points of hardly inferior importance to those here noticed, to be passed over in silence. The primitive Latin forms given are often not classical Latin words, but derivative from these; and reference is generally made to the Middle English (Chaucerian) pronunciation of English words, not the modern.

(a) Vocabulary. – The fundamental part of the vocabulary of French is the Latin imported into Gaul, the French words being simply the Latin words themselves, with the natural changes undergone by all living speech, or derivatives formed at various dates. Comparatively few words were introduced from the Celtic language of the native inhabitans (bec. Lieue from the Celtic words given by Latin writers as beccus, leuca), but the number adopted from the language of the Teutonic conquerors of Gaul is large (guerre = werra; laid – laidh; choisir = kausjan). The words were imported at different periods of the Teutonic supremacy, and consequently show chronological differences in their sounds (hair=hatan; francais=frankisk, ecrvisse =krebiz; echine=skina). Small separate importations of Teutonic words resulted from the Scandinavian settlement in France, and the commercial intercourse with the Low German nations on the North Sea (friper = Norse hripa; chaloupe = Dutch sloop; est = Old English east). In the meantime, as Latin (with considerable alterations in pronunciation, vocabulary, &c.) continued in literary, official, and ecclesiastical use, the popular language borrowed from time to time various more or less altered classical Latin words; and when the popular language came to be used in literature, especially in that of the church, these importations largely increased (virginitet Eulalia = virginitatem; imagena Alexis = imaginem= the popular forms would probably have been vernedet, emain). At the Renaissance they became very abundant, and have continued since, stifling to some extent the developmental power of the language. Imported words, whether Teutonic, classical Latin, or other, often receive some modification at their importation, and always take part in all subsequent natural phonetic changes in the language (early Old French adversarie, Modern French adversaire). Those French words which appear tocontradict the phonetic laws were mostly introduced into the language after the taking place (in words already existing in the language) of the changes formulated by the laws in question; compare the late imported laique with the inherited lai, both from Latin laicum. In this and many other cases the language possesses two forms of the same Latin word, one descended from it, the other borrowed (meuble and mobile from mobilem). Some Oriental and other foreign word were brought in by the crusaders (amiral from amir); in the 16th century, wars, royal marriages, and literature caused a large number of Italian words (soldat = soldato; brave=bravo; caresser = carezzare)d to be introduced, and many Spanish ones (alcobe=alcoba; habler=hablar). A few words have been furnished by Provencal (abeille, cadenzas), and several have been adopted from other dialects into the French of Paris (esquiver Norman or Picard for the Paris French eschiver). German has contributed a few (blocus=blochus; choucroute=surkrut); and recently a considerable number have been imported from England (drain, confortable, filrter). In Old French, new words are freely formed by derivation, and to a less extent by composition; in Modern French, borrowing from Latin or other foreign languages is the more usual course. Of theFrench words now obsolete some have disappeared because the things they express are obsolete; others have been replaced by words of native formation, and many have been superseded by foreign words generally of literary origin; of those which survive, many have undergone considerable alterations in meaning. A large number of Old French words and meanings, now extinct in the language of Paris, were introduced into English after the Norman Conquest; and though some have perished, many have survived-strife form Old French estrif (teutonic strit); quaint from cointe (cognitum); remember from remembrer (rememorare); chaplet (garland) from chapelet (Modern French "chapeet of beads"), appointment (renderzvous) from appointement (now "salary’). Many also survive in other French dialects.

(b) Dialects. – The history of the French language from the period of its earliest extant literary memorials is that of the dialects composing it. But as the popular notion of a dialect as the speech of a definite area, possessing certain peculiarities confined to and extending throughout that area, is far form correct, it will be advisable to drop the misleading divisions into "Norman dialect," "Picard dialect," and the like, and take instead each important feature in the chronological order (as far as can be ascertained) of its development, pointing out roughly the area in which it exists, and its preset state. The local terms used are intentionally vague, and it does not, for instance, at all follow that because "Eastern" and "Western" are used to denote the localities of more than one dialectal feature, the boundary line between the two divisions is the same in each case. It is, indeed, because dialectal differences as they arise do not follow the same boundary lines (much less the political divisions of provinces), but cross one another to any extent, that to speak of the dialect of a large area as an individual whole, unless that area is cut off by physical or alien linguistic boundaries, creates only confusion. Thus the Central French of Paris, the ancestor of classical Modern French, belongs to the South in having ts, not tsh, for Latin k (c) before I and e; tsh, not k, for k (c) before a; and gu, not w, for Teutonic w; while it belongs to the East in having oi for earlier ei; and to the West in having e, not ei, for Latin a; and I, not ei, from Latin e + i. It may be well to note that Southern French does not correspond to southern France, whose native language is Provencal. "Modern French" means ordinary educated Parisian French.

(c). Phonology. – The history of the sounds of a language is, to a considerable extent, that of its inflexions, which no less than the body of a word, are composed of sounds. This fact, and the fact that unconscious changes are much more reducible to law than conscious ones, render the phonology of a language by far the surest and widest foundation for its dialectology, the importance of the sound-changes in this respect depending, not on their prominence, but on the earliness of their date. For several centuries after the divergence between spoken and written Latin, the history of these changes has to determined mainly by reasoning, aided by a little direct evidence in the misspellings of inscriptions, the semi-popular forms in glossaries, and the warnings of Latin grammarians against vulgarities. With the rise of Romantic literature the materials for tracing the changes become abundant, though as they do not give us the sounds themselves, but only their written representations, much difficulty, and some uncertainty, often attach to deciphering the evidence. Fortunately, early Romanic orthography, that of Old French included (for which see next section), was phonetic, as Italian orthography still is; the alphabet was imperfect, as many new sounds had to be represented which were not provided for in the Roman alphabet from which it arose, but writers aimed at representing the sounds they uttered, not at using a fixed combination of letters for each word, however they pronounced it.

The characteristics of French as distinguished from the allied languages and from Latin, and the relations of its sounds, inflexions, and syntax to those of the last-named language, belong to the general subject of the Romanic languages. It will be well, however, to mention here some of the features in which it agrees with the closely related Provencail, and some in which it differs. As to the latter, it has already been pointed out that the two languages glide insensibly into one another, there being a belt of dialects which possess some of the features of each. French and Provencal of the 10th century- the earliest date at which documents exist in both-agree to a great extent in the treatment of Latin final consonants and the vowels preceding them, a matter of great importance for inflexions (numerous French examples occur in this section). (1) They reject all vowels, except a, of Latin final (unaccented) syllables, unless preceded by certain consonant combinations or followed by nt (here, as elsewhere, certain exceptions cannot be noticed); (2) they do not reject a similarly situated; (3) they reject final (unaccented) m; (4) they retain final s. French and Northern Provencal also agree in changing Latin u form a labio-guttural to a labio-palatal vowel; the modern sound (German u) of the accented vowel of French luna, Provencal luna, contrasting with that in Italian and Spanish luna, appears to have existed before the earliest extant documents. The final vowel laws generally apply to the unaccented vowel preceding the accented syllable, if it is preceded by another syllable, and followed by a single consonant – matin (matutinum), dortoir (dormitorium), with vowel dropped; canevas (cannabaceum), armedure, later armeure, now armure (armeturam), with e = e, as explained below.

On the other hand, French differs from Provencal: - 91) in uniformly preserving (in Early Old French) Latin final t, which is generally rejected in Provencal – French aimet (latin amat), Provencal ama; aiment (amant), aman; (2) in always rejecting, absorbing, or consonantizing the vowel of the last syllable but one, if unaccented; in such words as angele (often spelt angle), the e after the g only serves to show its soft sound – French venintre, latin vincere), Provencal vencer, with accent on first syllable; French eslandre (scandalum), Provencal escandol; French olie (dissyllabic, I = y consonant, now huile), Provencal oli (oleum); (3) in changing accented a not in position into ai before nasals and gutturals and not after a palatal, and elsewhere into e (West French) or ei (east French), which develops an I before it when preceded by a palatal – French main (Latin manum), Provencal man; aigre (acrem), agre; ele (alam), East French eile, ala; meitie (medietatem), East French moitieit, meitat; (4) in changing a in unaccented final syllables into the vowel e, intermediate to a and e; this vowel is written a in one or two of the older documents, elsewhere e – French aime (latin ama), Provencal ama; aimes (amas), amas; aimet (amat), ama; (5) in changing original au into o – French or (aurum), Provencal aur; robber (Teutonic raubon), raubar; (6) in changing general Romantic e, from accented e and e not in position, into ei – French veine (venam), Provencal vena; peil; (pilum), pel.

As some of the dialectal differences were in existence at the date of the earliest extant document, and as the existing materials, till the latter half of the 11th century, are scanty and of uncertain locality, the chronological order (here adopted) of the earlier sound-changes is only tentative.





(1.) Northern French has tsh (written e or ch) for Latin k ( c) and t before palatal vowels, where Central and Southern French have ts (written c or z) – North Norman and Picard chire (ceram), brach (brachium), plache (plateam); Parisian, South Norman, &c., cire, braz, place. Before the close of the early Old French period (12th century) ts loses its initial consonant, and the same happened to tsh a century or two later; with this change the old distinction is maintained-Modern Guernsey and Picard chire, Modern Picard plache (in ordinary Modern French spelling); usual French cire, place. English, having borrowed from North and South Norman (and later Parisian), has instances of both tsh and s, the former in comparatively small number – chsel (Modern French cisaeu = (?) caesellum), escutcheon (ecusson, scul=tuonem); city 9cite, civitatem), place. (2.)Initial Teutonic w is retained in the north-eastand along the north coast; elsewhere, as in the other Romance language, g was prefixed – Picard, &c warde (Teutonic warda), were (werra); gu dropped, giving the Modern French garde, guerre (with gu=g); w remains inPicard and Walloon, but in North Normandy it become v – Modern Guernsey vason, Walloon wazon, Modern French gazon (Tuetonic wason). English has both forms, sometimes in words originally the same-wage and gage (Modern French gage, teutonic wadi); warden and guardian (gardien, warding). (3.) Latin b after accenter a in the imperfect of the first conjugation, which becomes v in eastern French, in Western French further changes to w, and forms the diphthoing ou with the preceding vowel-Norman amouwe (amahan),portout (portabat); Burgundian ameve, portevet. Eve is still retained in some places, but generally the imperfect of the firstconjugation is assimilated to that of the others=amoit, like avoil (habebat). (4.) The palatalization of every then existing k and g (hard) when followed by a, I, or e, after having caused the development of I before the e (East French ei) derived from a not n position, is abandoned in the north, the consonants returning to ordinary k or g, while in the center and south they are assibilated to tsh ordzh – North Norman and Piscard cachier (captiare), kier (carun), cose (causam), eskiver (Teutonic skiuhan), Teutonic wik+ittum), gal (gallum), gardin (from Teutonic gard); South Norman and Parisian chacier, chier, chose, eschiver, guichet, jal, jardin. Probably in the 14th century the initial consonant, of tsh, dzh disappeared, giving the modern French chaser, jardin with ch = sh and j = zh; but tsh is retained in Waloon, and dzh in Lorriane. The Northern forms survive- Modern Guensey cachier, gardin; Picard cahcer, gardin. English possesses numerous examples of both forms, sometimes in related words – catch and chase; wicket, eschew; garden, jaundice (jaunesse, from galbanum). (5.) For Latin accented a not in position Western French usually has e, Eastern French ei, both of which take an I before them when a palatal precedes – Norman and Parisian per (parem), oiez (audiatis); Lorraine peir, oieis. In the 17th and 18th centuries close e changed to open, except when final or before silent consonant-amer (amarum) now having a aimer, (amare) retaining e. English shows the Western close e – peer (Modern French pair, Old French per), chief (chef, caput); Middle High German the Eastern ei –lameir (Modern French l’amer, l’aimer, la mer-Latin mare) (6.) Latin accented e not in position, when it came to be followed in Old French by I, unites with this to form I in the Western dialects, while the Eastern have the dipthong ei-Picard, Norman, and Parisian pire (pejor), piz (pectus); Burgundian piere, peiz. The distinction is still preserved – Modern French pire, pis; Modern Burgundian peire, pei. English words show always I – price (prix, pretium), spite (depit, despectum). (7). The nasalization of vowels followed by a nasal consonant did not take place simultaneously with all the vowels. A and e before n (guttural n, as in sign), n (palatal n), n, and m were nasal in the 11th century, such words as tant (tantum) and gent (genten) forming in the Alexis assonances to themselves, distinct from the assonances with a and e before non-nasal consonants. In the roland umbre (ombre, umbram) and culchet (couche, collocat,) fier (ferum) and chiens (canes), dit (dictum) and vint (venit), ceinte (cinctam) and veie (voie, viam) brun (Teutonic brun) and full (fuit) assonate freely, though o (u) before nasal shows a tendency to separation. The nasalization of I and u (= Modern French u) did not take place till the 16th century; and in all cases the loss of the following nasal consonant is quite modern, the older pronunciation of tant, ombre being tant, ombre, not as now ta, obrh. The nasalization took place whether the nasal consonant was or was not followed by a vowel, femme (feninam), honneur (honorem) being pronounced with nasal vowels in the first syllable till after the 16th century, as indicated by the doubling of the nasal consonant in the spelling, and by the phonetic change (in femme and other words next to be mentioned. English generally has au (now often reduced to a ) for Old French a – vaunt (vanter, vanitare), tawny (tanne, (?) Celtic. (8.) The assimilation of e (nasal e) to a (nasal a) did not begin till the middle of the 11th century, and is not yet universal in France, though generally, a century later. In the Alexis nasal a (as in tant) is never confounded with nasal e (as in gent) in the assonances, though the copyist (a century later) often writes a for nasal e in unaccented syllables as in amfant (enfant, infantem); in the Roland there are several cases of mixture in the assonances, gent, for instance, occurring in ant stanzas, tant in ent ones. English has several words with a for e before nasals – rank (rang, Old French renc, Teutonic hringa), pansy (pensee, pensatam); but the majority show e – enter (entrer, intrare), fleam (flame, Old French fleme, phelotonum). The distinction is still preserved in the Norman of Guernsey, where an and en, though both nasal, have different sounds-lanchier (lancer, lanceare), but mentrie (Old French menterie, from mentiri). (9.) The loss of s, or rather z, before voiced consonants began early, s being often omitted or wrongly inserted in 12th century MSS. – Earliest Old French masle (masculum), sisdre (skeram); Modern French male-cidre. In English it has everywhere disappeared- male, cider; except in two words, where it appears, as occasionally in Old French, as d-meddle (meler, misculare), medlar (neglier, Old French also meslier, mespilarium). The loss of s before voiceless consonants (except f) is about two centuries later, and it is not universal in even in Parisian-early Old French feste (festam), escuier (scutarium); Modern French fete, ecuyer, but esperer (sperare). In the north-east s before t is still retained-Walloon chestai (chateau, castellum), ficss (fete). English shows s regularly –feast esquire. (10.) Medial dh (soft th, as in then), and final th from Latin t or d between vowels, do not begin to disppear till the latter half of the 1th century. In native French MSS. dh is generally written d, and th written t; but the German scribe of the Oaths writes adjudha (adjutam), cadhuna (Greek kata and unam); and the English one of the Alexis cuntretha (contratam(,lothet (laudatum), and that of the Cambridge Psalter herieth (hereditatem). Medial dh often drops even in the lastnamed MSS. and soon disappears; the same is true for final th in Western French-Modern French contree, loue. But in Eastern French final th, to which Latin t between vowels had probably been reduced through d and dh, appears kin the 12th century and later as t, rhyming on ordinary French final t =- Picard and Burgundian pechiet (peccatum), apeleit (appellatum). In Western French some final ths were saved by being changed to f- Modern French soif (sitin), moeuf (obsoete, modum). English has one or two instances of final th, more of medial dh –faith (foi, fidem); Middle English caritep (charite, caritatem), drup (Old French dru, Teutonic drud); generally the consonant is lost-country, charity. Middle High German shows the Eastern French finall consonant-moraliteit (moralite, moralitatem). (11.) T from Latin final t, if in an Old French unaccented syllable, begins to disappear in the Roland, where sometimes aimet (amat, sometimes aime is required by the metre, and soon drops in all dialects. The Modern French t of aime-t-il and similar forms is an analogical insertion from such forms as dort-il (dormit), where the t has always existed. (12.) The change of the diphthong ai to ei and afterwards to ee (the doubling indicated length) had not taken place in the earliest French documents, words with ai assonating only on words with a; in the Roland such assonances occur, but those of ai on e are more frequent-faire (facere) assonating on parastre (patraster) and on estes (estis); and MS. (half a century later than the poem) occasionally has ei and e for ai- recleimet (reclamat), desfere (disfacere), the altter agreeing with the Modern French sound. Before nasals (as in laise= lanem) and ie (as in paye= pacatum), ai remained a diphthong up to the 16th century, being apparently ei, whose fate in this situation it had followed. English shows ai regularly before nasals and when final, and in a few other words – vain (vain, vanum), pay (payer, pacare), wait (guetter, Teutonic wahten); but before most consonants it has usually ee – peace (pais, pacem),feat(fait, factum). (13.) The loss or transportation of I (= y consonant) following the consonant ending an accented syllable begins in the 12th century- Early Old French glorie (gloriam), estudie (studium), olie (oleum); Modern French gloire, etude, huile. English sometimes shows the earlier form – glory, study; sometimes the later – dower 9douaire, early Old French doarie, dotarium), oil (huile). (14.) The vocalization of l preceded by a vowel and followed by a consonant becomes frequent at the end of the 12th century; when preceded by open e, and a developed before the l while this was a consonant- 11th century salse (salsa), beltet (belllitatem), soldier (sloidare); Modern French sauce, beaute, souder. In Parisia, final el followed the fate of el before a consonant, becoming the triphthong eau, but in Norman the vocalization did not take place, and the 1 was afterwards rejected – Modern French ruisseau, Modern Guernsey russe (rivicellum). English words of French origin sometimes show 1 before a consonasnt, but the generalform is u – scald (echauder, excalidare), Walter (Gautier, Teutonic Waldhari); sauce, beauty, soder. Final el is kept- veal (veau, vitellum), seal (sceau, sigillum). (15.) In the east and center ei changes to oi, while the older sound is retained in the north-west and west-Norman estreit (etroit, strictum), preie (proie, praedam), 12th century Picard, Parisian, &c. estroit, proie. But the earliest (10th century) specimens of the latter group of dialects have ei- pleier (ployer, plicare) Eulalia, mettreciet (mettrait, mittere habebat) Jonah. Parisian oi, whether from ei or from Old French oi, oi, became in the 15th century ue (spellings with oue or oe are not uncommon0mirouer for miroir, miratorium), and in the following, in certain words, e, now written ai – francais, connaitre, from francois (franceis, franciscum), conoistre (conuistre, cognoscere); where it did not undergo the latter change it is now ua or wa – roi (rei, regem),croix (cruis, crucem). Before nasals and palatal l, ei (now=e) was kept-veine (vena), veille (vigila), and it everywhere survives unlabialized in Modern Norman-Guernsey (etelle (etoiler, stella) with e, ser (soir, serum) with e. english shows generallyei (or ai) for original ei – strait (estreit), prey (preie); but in several words thelater Parisian oi-coy (coi, qvuietum), loyal (loyal, legalem). (16.) The splitting of the vowel-sound from accented Latin o or u not in position, represented in Old French by o and u indifferently, into u, o (before nasals), and eu (the latter at first a diphthong, now = German o), is unknown to Wstern French till the 12th century, and is not general in the east. The sound in 11th century Norman was much nearer to u borrowed by English show uu 9at first written u, afterwards ou or ow), never oo; but was probably not wuiteu, as Modern Norman shows the same splitting of the sound as Parisian. Examples are – early Old French espose or espuse (sponsam), nom or num (nomen), flor or flur (florem); Modern French epouse, nom, fleur; Modern Guernsey goule (gueule, gulam(,nom, fleur, Modern Picard also shows u, which is the regularsound before r – flour; but Modern Burgundianoften keeps the original Old French o – vo (vous, vos). English shows almost always uu – spouse, noun, flower (Early Middle English spuse, nun, flur); but nephew with eu (neveu nepotem). (17.) The loss of the u (or w) of qu dates from the end of the 12th century-Old French quart (quartum), quitier (quietare) with qu=kw,Modern Frenchquart, quitter with qu = k. In Walloon the w is preserved-couar (quart), cuitter; as is the case in English-quart, quit. The w of gw seems to have been lost rather earlier, English simple g – gage (gage, older guage, teutonic wadi), guise (guise, teutonic visa). (18.) thechange of the diphthong ou to uu did not take place till after the 12th century, such words as Anjou (Andegavum) assonating in the Roland on fort (fortem); and did not occur in Picardy, wher ou became au – caus fromolder cous, cols (cous, collos) coinciding with caus from alz (chauds, calidos). English keeps oudistinct from uu – vault for vaut (Modern French voute, volvitam),soder (souder, solidare). (19.) The change of the diphthong ie to simle e is specially Anglo-Norman; in Old French of the Continent these sounds never rhyme, in that of England they constantly do, and English words show, with rareexceptions, the simple vowel- fierce (Old French fiers, ferus), chief(chief, caput), with ie = ee; but pannier (panier, pnarium). At the beginning of the modern period, Parisian dropped the I of ie when preceded by ch or j-chef, abreger (Old French abregier, abbreviate); elsewhere (except in verbs) ie is retained –fier (ferum), pitie (pietatem). Modern Guernsey retains ie after ch – ap’rchier (approcher, adpropeare). (20.) Some of the Modern French changes have found their places under older ones; those remaining to be noticed, are so recent that English examples of the older formsare superfluous. In the 16th century the diphthong au changed to ao and then to o,itspresent sound, rendering, forinstance,maux (Old French mals,malos) identical with mots (muttos). The au of eau underwent the same change, but it e was still sounded as e (the e of que); in the next century this was dropped, making veaux (Old French veels, vitellis) identical with vaux (vals, valles). (21.) A more generaland very important change began much earlier than the last; this is the loss of many final consonants. In Early Old French every consonant was pronounced as written; by degrees many of them disappeared when followed by another consonant, whether in the same word (in which case they were generally omitted in writing) or in a following one. This was the state of things in the 16th century; those final consonants which are usually silent in Modern French were still sounded, if before a vowel or at the end of a sentence or a line of poetry, but generally not elsewhere. Thus a large number of French words had two forms; the Old French fort appeared as for 9thought still written fort) before a consonant, fort elsewhere. At a later period final consonants were lost (with certain exceptions) when the word stood at the end of a sentence or of a line of poetry; but they are generally kept when followed by a word beginning with a vowel. (22.) A still later change is the general loss of the vowel (written e) of unaccented final syllables; this vowel preserved in the 16th century the sound e, which is appears to have had in early Old French. In later Anglo-Norman final e (like every other sound) was treated exactly as the same sound in Middle English that is, it came to be omitted or retained at pleasure, and in the 15th century disappeared. In Old French the loss of final e is confined to a few words and forms; the 10th century saveiet (sapebat for sapiebat) became in the 11th saveit, and ore (ad horam), ele (illam) develop the abbreviated or, el. In the 15th century e before a vowel generally disappears. Mur, Old French meur (maturum); and in the 16th, though still written, e after an unaccented vowel, and in the syllable ent after a vowel, does the same – urainment, Old French vraiement (veraca mente);avoeint two syllables, as now (avaient), in Old French three syllables (as habebant). These phenomena occur much earlier in the anglicized French of England-14th century aveynt (Old French aveient). But the universal loss of that e, which has clipped a syllable from half the French vocabulary, did not take place till the 18th century, after the general loss of final consonants; fort and forte, distinguished at the end of a sentence or line in the 16th century as fort and forte, remain distinguished , but as for and fort. The metre of poetry is still constructed on the obsolete pronunciation, which is even revived in singing; "dites, la jeune belle," actually four syllables (dit, la zhoen bel), is considered as seven, fitted with music accordingly, and sung to fit the music (dite, la zohena bela). (23.) In Old French, as in the other Romanic languages, the stress (force, accent) is on the syllable which was accented in Latin; compare the treatment of the accented and unaccented vowels in latro, amas, giving lere, dime, and in latronem, amatis, giving laron, amez, the accented vowels being those which rhyme or assonate. At present, stress in French is much less marked than in English, German, or Italian, and is to a certain extent variable; which is partly the reason why most native French scholars find no difficulty in maintaining that the stress in living Modern French is on the same syllables as in Old French. The Modern French is on the same syllable as in Old French. The fact that stress in the French of to-day is independent of length (quantity) and pitch (tone) largely aids the confusions; for though the final and originally accented syllable (not counting the silent e as a syllable) is now generally pronounced with less force, it very often has a long vowel with raised pitch. In actual pronunciation the chief stress is usually on the first syllable *counting according to the sounds, not the spelling, but in many polysyllables it is on the last but one; thus in caution the accented (strong) syllable is cau, in occasion it is ca. Poetry is stillwritten according to the original place of the stress; the rhyme-syllables of larron, aimez are still ron and mez, which when set to music receive an accented (strong0 note, and are sung accordingly, though in speech the la and ai generally have the principal stress. In reading poetry, as distinguished from singing, the modern pronunciation is used, both as to the loss of the final e and the displacement of the stress, the result being that the theoretical metre in which the poetry is written disappears. (24.) In certain cases accented vowels were lengthen in Old French, as beforea lost s; this was indicated in the 16th century by a circumflex – bete, Old French beste (bestiam), ame, Old French anme ( anima). The same occurred in the plural of many nouns, where a consonant was lost before the s of the flexion; thus singular coc with shot vowel, plural cos with long. The plural, cos, though spelt coqs instead of co = koo), is still sometimes to be heard, but, like other similar ones, is generally refashioned after the singular, becoming kok. In present French, except where a difference of quality has resulted, as in cote (Old French coste, costam) with o and cotte (Old French cote) with o, short and long vowels generally run together, quantity being now variable and uncertain; but at the beginning of this century the early Modern distinctions appear to have been generally preserved.

(d) Orthography. – The history of French spelling is based on that of French sounds; as already stated, the former (apart form a few Latinisms in the earliest documents) for several centuries faithfully followed the latter. When the popular Latin of Gaul was first written, its sounds were represented by the letters of the Roman alphabet; but these were employed, not in the values they had in the time of Caesar, but in those they had acquired in consequence of the phonetic changes that had meantime taken place. Thus, as the Latin sound u had become o (close o) and u had become y (French u, German u), the letter u was used sometimes to denote the sound o, sometimes the sound y; as Latin k (written c) had become tsh or ts, according to dialect, before e and I, c was used to represent those sounds as well as that of k. The chief features of early French orthography (apart from the specialities of individual MSS., especially the earliest) are therefore these: - c stood for k and tsh or ts; d for d and dh (soft th); e for e, e and e; g for and dzh; h was often written in words of Latin origin where not sounded; I (j) stood for I, y consonant, and dzh; o for o (Anglo- Norman u ) and o; s for s and z; t for t and th; u (v) for o (Anglo-Norman u), y and v; y (rare) for I; z for dz and ts. Some new sounds had also to be provided for: where tsh had to be distinguished from non-final ts, ch: where tsh had to be distinguished from non-final ts,ch – at first, as in Italian, denoting k before I and e (chi=ki from qui) – was used for it;palatal l was represented by ill, which when final usually lost one l, and after I dropped its I; palatal n by gn, ng, or ngn, to which I was often prefixed; and the new letter w, originally uu (vv), and sometimes representing merely vv or uu, was employed for the consonant-sound still denoted by it in English. All combinations of vowel-letters represnted diphthong; thus ai denoted a followed by i, ou either ou or oum uieither oi (Anglo-Norman ui) or yi, and similatly with the others – ei, eu, oi,iu, ie, ue (and oe), and the triphthong ieu. Silent letters, except initial h in Latin words, are very rare; though MSS. copied from older ones often retain letters whose sounds, though existing in the language of the author, had disappeared from that of the more modern scribe. The subsequent changes in orthography are due mainly to changes of sound, and find their explanation in the phonotology. Thus, as Old French progresses, s, having become silent before voiced consonants, indicates only the length of the preceding vowel; e before nasals, from the change of e (nasal e) to a (nasal a), represents a; c, from the change of ts to s, represents s; qu and gu, from the loss of the w of kw and gw, represent k and g (hard); ai from the change of ai to e, represents; e; ou from the change of ou and ou to u, represent e; ou, from the change of ou and ou to u, r represents u; ch and g, from the change of tsh and dzh to sh and zh, represent sh and zh; eu and ue, originally representing diphthong s, represent oe (Geman o); z from the change of ts and dz to s and z, represents s and z. The new values of some of these letters were applied to words not originally spelt with them: Old French k before i and e was replaced by qu (everque, eveske, latin episcopum); Old French u and o for o, after this sound had split into eu and u, were replaced in the latter case by ou (rous, for ros or rus, Latin russum); s was inserted to mark a long vowel (pasle, pale, Latin pallidum); eu replaced ue and oe (neuf, nuef, Latin novum and novem); z replaced s after e (uez, nez, nasum). The use of x for final s is due to an orthographical mistake; the MS. contraction of us being something like x was at last confused with it (iex for eius, oculos), and its meaning being forgotten, u was inserted before the x (yeux), which thus meant no more than s, and was used for it after other vowels (voix for vois, vocem). As literature came to be extensively cultivated, traditional as distinct from phonetic spelling, began to be influential; and in the 14th century, the close of the Old French period, this influence, though to overpowering, was strong-stronger than in England at that time. about the same period there arose etymological as distinct from traditional spelling. This practice, the alteration of traditional spelling by the insertion or substitution of letters which occurred (or were supposed to occur) in the Latin (or supposed Latin) originals of the French words, became very prevalent in the three following centuries, when such forms as debvoir (debere) for devoir, faulx (falsum) for faus, autheur (autorem), supposed to be authorem) for auteur, poids (supposed to be from pondus, really from pensum) for pons, were the rule. But besides the etymological, there was a phonetic school of spelling (Ramus, for instance, writers eime, eimates – with e = e, e = e, and e=e- for aimai, aimastes), which, though unsuccessful on the whole, had some effect in correcting the excesses of the other, so that in the 17th century most of these inserted letters began to drop; of those which remain, some (flegme forflemme or fleume, Latin phlegma) have corrupted the pronunciation. Some important reforms-as the dropping of silent, s, and its replacement by a circumflex over the vowel when this was long; the frequent distinction of close and open e by acute and grave accents; the restriction of I and u to the vowel sound, of j and v to the consonant; and the introduction from Spain of the cedilla to distinguish c=s from c=k before a, u and o – are due to the 16th century. The replacement of oi, where it had assumed the value e, by ai, did not begin till the last century, and was not the rule tillthe present one. Indeed, since the 16th century the changes in French spelling have been very small, compared with the changes of the sounds; final consonants and final e (unaccented) are still written, though the sounds they represent have disappeared. French orthography is now quite as traditional and unphonetic as English, and gives an even falser notion than this of the actual state of the language it is supposed to represent. Many of the features of Old French orthography, early and late, are preserved in English orthography; to it we owe the use of c for s (Old English c=k only), of j (i) for dzh, of v (u), for v (in Old English written f), and probably of ch for tsh. The English w is purely French, the Old English letter being the runic p. When French was introduced into England, kw had not lost its w, and the French qu, with that value, replaced the Old English cp (queen for open.) In Norman, Old French o had become very like u, and in England went entirely into it; o which was one of its French signs, thus came to be often used for u in English (come for cume). U. having often I Old French its Modern French value, was so used in England, and replaced the Old English y (busy for bysi, Middle English brud for bryd), and y was often used for I 9day for dai). In the 13th century, when ou had come to represent u in France, it was borrowed by English, and used for the long sound of that vowel (sour for sur);; and gu. Which had come to mean simply q (hard), was occasionally used to represent the sound g before I and e (guess for gesse). Some of the early Modern etymological spellings were imitated in England; fleam and autour were replaced by phlegm and athour, the latterspelling having corrupted the pronunciation.





(e) Inflexions. – In the earliest Old French extant, the influence of analogy especially in verbal forms, is very marked when these are compared with Latin (thus the present participles of all conjugations take ant, the ending of the first, Latin antem), and becomes stronger as the language progresses. Such isolated inflexional changes as saviet into savoit, which are cases of regular phonetic changes, are not noticed here.

i. Verbs. – (1.) In the oldest French texts the Latin pluperfect (with the sense of the perfect) occasionally occurs – avert (habuerat), roveret (rogaverat); it disappears early in the 12th century. (2.) The u of the ending of the 1st pers. Plur. Mus drops in Old French, except in the perfect, where its presence (as e ) is not yet satisfactorily explained – amoms (amamus), but amames (amavimus). In Picard the ending mes its extended to all tenses, giving amomes, &c. (3.) The replacement of the 2d plur. Ending eiz (Latin etis (Latin etis) by the ez (Latin atis) of the first conjugation begins early in Norman; in the Roland both forms occur, portereiz (portare habetis) assonating on rei (roi, regem), and the younger porterez on cilet (cite, civilatem). In Eastern French, where ez, in accordance with phonetic laws, appears as eiz, eiz for the same reason becomes oiz and ois, ands is found in the 13th century – avois and avroiz corresponding to aveiz (habetis) and avreiz, but ameiz to amez (amatis). (4.) In Eastern the 1st plur., when preced by I, has e, not o, before the nasal, while Western French has u (or o), as in the present; posciomes (posscamus) in the Jonah homily makes it probale that the latter is the older form – Picard aviemes, Burgundian aviens, Norman aviums (habebamus). (5.) The subjunctive of the first conjugation has at first in the singular no final e, in accordance with the final vowel laws-plurs, plurt (plorem, plores, ploret). The forms are ghradually assimilated to those of the other conjugations, which, deriving from Latin am, as, at, have e, es, e (t); Modern French pleure, pleures, pleure, like perde, perdes, perde (perdam, perdas, perdat). (6.) In Old French the present subjunctive and the 1st sing. Pres. Ind. Generally show the influence of the I or of the Latin iam, io, eo – Old French muire or moerge (moriat for moriatur), tiegne or tienge (teneat), muir or moerc (morio for morior), tieng or tiene (teneo). By degrees these forms are leveled under the other present forms – Modern French meure and meurs following meurt (morit for moritus), tienne and tiens following tient (tenet). A few of the older forms remain- the vowel of aie (habeam) and ai (habeo) contrasting with that of a (habet). (7.) A leveling of which instances occur in the 11th century, but which is not yet complete, is that of the accented and unaccented stem-syllables of verbs. In Old French many verb-stems with shifting accent vary in accordance with phonetic laws- parler (parabolare), amer (amare) have in the present indicative parol (parabolo), paroles (parabolas), parolet (parabolat), parlums (parabolamus), parlez (parabilatis), parolent (parabolant); aim (amo), aimes (amas), aimet (amat), amums (amamus), amez (amatis), aiment (amant). In the first case the unaccented, in the second the accented form has prevailed – Modern French parle, parler; aime, aimer. In several verbs, as tenir (tenere), distinction is retained-tiens, tiens, tient, tenons, tenez, tiennent. (8.) In Old French, as stated above, ie instead of e from a occurs after a palatal (which, if a consonant, often split into I with a dental); the diphthong thus appears in several forms of many verbs of the 1st conjugation – preier (= prei-ier, precare) (vindicare), laissier (laxare), aidier (adjutare). At the close of the Old French period, those verbs in which the stem ends in a dental replace ie by the e of other verbs – Old French laissier, aidier, laissiez (laxatis), aidiez (adjutalis); Modern French laisser, abider, laissez, aidez, by analogy of aimer, aimez. The older forms generally remain in Picard- laissier, aidier. (9.) The addition of e to the 1st sing. Pres ind. Of all verbs of the first conjugation is rare before the 13th century, but is usual in the 15th; it is probably due to the analogy of the third person-Old French chant (canto), aim (amo), Modern French chante, aime. (10.) In the 13th century s is occasionally added to the 1st pers, sing, except those ending in e (=e) and ai, and to the 2d sing. Of emperatives; at the close of the 16th century this becomes the rule, and extends to imperfects and conditionals in oie after the loss of their e. It appears to be due to the influence of the 2d pers sing, - Old French vend (vendo and vende), vendoie (vendebam), parti (partivi), ting (tenui); Modern French vends, vendais, parties, tins; and donne (dona) in certain cases becomes donnes. (11.) The 1st and 2d plur. Of the pres. Sub., which in Old French were generally similar to those of the indicative, gradually take an I before them, which is the rule after the 16th century-Old French perdons (perdomus), perdez (perdatis); Modern French perdions, perdiez, apparently by analogy of the imp. (ind. (12.) The loss in Late Old French of fina s, ti, &c., when preceding another consonant, caused many words to have in reality (though often concealed by orthography) double forms of inflexion, - one without termination, the other with. Thus in the 16th century the 2d sing.pres. ind. Dors (dormis) and the 3d dort (dormit) were distinguished as dorz and dort when before a vowel as dors and dort as the end of a sentence or line of poetry, but ran together as dor when followed by a consonant. Still later, the loss of the final consonant when not followed by a vowel further reduced the cases in which the forms were distinguished, so that the actual French conjugation is considerably simpler than is shown by the customary spellings, except when, in consequence of an immediately following vowel, the old terminatins occasionally appear. Even here the antiquity is to a considerable extent artificial or delusive, some of the insertions being due to analogy, and the popular language often omitting the traditional consonant or inserting a different one. (13.) The subsequent general loss of e = e in unaccented final syllables has still further reduced the inflexions, but not the distinctive forms, - perd (predict) and perde (perdat) being generally distinguished as per and perd, and before a vowel as per and perd.


ii. Substantives. – (1.) In Early Old French (as in Provencal) there are two main declensions, the masculine and the feminine; with a few exceptions the former distinguishes nominative and accusative in both numbers, the latter in neither. The nom. And acc. Sing. And acc. Plur.mas. correspond to those of the Latin 2d or 3d declension, the nom. Plur.to that of the 2d declension. The singfem. Corresponds to the nom. And acc. Of the Latin 1st declension, or to the acc. Of the 3d; the plur. Fem. To the acc. Of the 1st declension, or to the nom.and acc. Of the 3d. thus masc. Tors (Taurus),lere (latro); tor (taurum), laron (latronem); tor (tauri), laron (latroni for-nes); tors (tauros), larons (latrines); but fem., only ele (ala and alam), flor (florem); eles (alas), flors (lfores nom. And acc.). At the end of the 11th century feminines not ending in e=e take, b y analogy of the masculines, s in the nom. Sing, thus distinguishing nom.flors from acc. Flor. A century later, masculine without s in the nom.sing take this consonant by analogy of the other masculines, giving leres as nom.similar to tors. In Anglo-Norman the accusative forms very early begin to replace the nominative, and soon supersede them, the language following the tendency of contemporaneous English. In Continental French the declension- system was preserved much longer, and did not break up till the 14th century, though acc.forms are occasionally substituted for nom. (rarely nom., for acc.) before that date. In the 15th century the modern system of one case is fully established; the form kept is almos always the accusative (sing. Without s, plural with s), but in a few words, such as fils (filius), soeur ( soror), the nom. Survives in the sing., and occasionally both forms exist, in different senses-sire (senior) and siegneur (sentorem), on (komo) and homme (hominem). (2.) Latin neuters are generally masculine in Old French, and inflected according to their analogy, as ceils (coleus for caelum nom.) ciel (caelum acc.) ciel (caeli for caela nom.) ceils (caelos for caela acc.); but early cases of nom. Sing.without occur, which, if not due to substitution of acc.for nom., are the older forms (ciel= caelum nominative). Many neuters lose their singular form and treat the plural as a feminine singular, as in the related languages-merveille (mirabilia), feville (folia). But in a few words the neuter plural termination is used, as in Italian, in its primitive sense-carre (carra, which exists as well as carri), deie, later doic (digita for digiti), Modern French chars, doigts. This form becameextinct after the 13th century-paire (Latin paria), in Old French both fem.sing.and neut.plur. (as Italian poja is fem. Plur.), being now only the former. (3.) In Old French the inflexional s often causes phonetic changes in the stem; thus palatal l before s takes t after it, and becomes dental l, which afterwards changes to u or drops-fil (filium and filii) with palatal l, filz (filius and filios), afterwards fiz, with z = ts (preserved in English Fitz), anf then fis, as now (spelt fils). Many consonants before s, as the t of fiz, disappear, and ; is vocalized 0 vif (vivum), mal (malum), nominative sing. And acc. Plur vis, maus (earlier mals). Thes forms of the plural are retained in the 16th century, though often etymologically spelt with the consonant of the singular, as in vifs, pronounced vis; but in Late Modern French many of them disappear, vifs, with f sounded as in the singular, being the plural of vif, vals (formerly bauz) that of bal. In many words, as chant (cantus) and champs (campos) with silent t and o (Old French chans in both cases), maux (Old French mals, sing. Masl), yeux (oculos, Old French olez, sing, oeil) the old change in the stem is kept. Sometimes, as in cieux (calos) and ceils, the old traditional nd the modern analogical forms coexist, with different meanings. (4.) The modern loss of final s (except when kept as z before a vowel) has seriously meodified the French declension, the singulars fort (for) and forte (fort) being generally undistinguishable from their plurals forts and fortes. The subsequent loss of e in finals has not affected the relation between sing and plur. Forms; but with the frerquent recoining of the plural forms on the singular presnt Modern French has very often no distinction between sing. and plur. Except before a vowel. Such plurals as maux have al ways been distinct fromtheir singular mal; in those whose singular ends in s thre never was any distinction. Old French laz (now spelt lacs) corresponding to laqueus, laqueum, laquei, and laqueos.

iii. Adjectives. (1.) The terminations of the cases and numbers of adjectives are the same as those of substantives, and are treated in the preceding paragraph. The feminine generally takes no e if the masc. Has none, and if there is no distinction in Latin-fem. Sing. fort (fortem), grant (grandem), fem.plur forz (frotes), granz (grandes), like the acc., masc. Certain adjectives, which in Provencal take an a not existing in Latin, take the corresponding e inOld French-fem. Dulce (douce, dulciam for dulcem, Provencan dolza), masc. Dulz (dulcem). In the 11th century some other feminines,originally without e, begin in Norman to take this termination- grande (in a feminine assonance in the Alexis), plur. Grandes; but other dialects generally preserve the original form till the 14th century. In the 16th century the e is general in the feminine, and is now universal, except in a few expressions-grand mere (with erroneous apostrophe, grandem matrem), letteres royaux (literas regales), and most adverbs from adjectives in ant, -ent – couram-ment (currante for –ente mente), scienment (scientemente). (2.) Several adjectives have in Modern French replaced the masc. By the feminine – Old French masc. Roit (rigidum), fem. Roide (rigidam); Modern French roide for both genders. (3.) In Old French several Latin simple comparatives are preserve-maiur (majorem), nom. Maire (major) graignur (grandiorem), nom. Graindre (grandior); only a few of these now survive –pire (pejor,) meilleur (meliorem), with their abverbial neuters pis (pejus),mieux ( melius). The few simple superlatives found in Old French, as merme (minimum), proisme (proximum), haltisme (altissinum), are now extinct. (4.) The modern loss of many final consonants when not before voiwels, and the subsewuent loss of fina e, have greatly affecte the distinction between the masc. And fem. Of adjectives – fort and forte are still distinguished as for and fort, but amer (amarum) and amere (amaram), with their plurals amers and ameres, have run together.

(f) Derivation. – Most of the Old French prefixes and suffixes and suffixes are descendants of Latin ones, but a few are Celtic (et=ittum) or Teutonic (ard=hard), and some are later borrowings fromLatin (arie, afterwards aire, from Lastin (aire, afterwards aire, from airum). In Modern French many old affixes are hardly used for forming new words; the inherited ier (arium) is yielding to the borrowed aire, the popular contre (contra) to the learned anti (Greek), and the native ee (atam) to the Italian ade. The suffixes of many words have been assimilated to more common ones; thus sengler (singularem) is now sanglier.

(g) Syntax. – Old French syntax, gradually changing from the 10th to the 14th century, has a character of its own, distinct from that of Modern French; though when compared with Latin syntax it appears decidedly modern.

(1.)The general formal distinction between nominative and accusative is the chief feature which causes French syntax to resemble that of Latin and differ from that of the modern language; and as the distinction had to be replaced by a comparatively fixed word-order, a serious loss of freedom ensued. If the forms are modernized while the word-order is kept, the Old French l’archevesque ne puet flechir li reis Henris (Latin, archiepiscopum non potest lfectere rec Henricus) assumes a totally different meaning –l’archeveque ne peut flechir le roi Henri. (2.) The replacement of the nominative form of nouns by the accusative is itself a syntactical feature, though treated above under inflexion. A more modern instance is exhibited by the personal pronouns, which when not immediately the subject of a verb, occasionally take even in Old French, and regularly in the 16th century, the accusative form; the Old French je qui sui (ego qvi sum) become moi qui suis, though the older usage survives in the legal phrase, je, soussigne… (3.) The definite article is now required in many cases where Old French dispenses with it – jo cunquis Engleterre, suffrir mort (as Modern French avoir faim); Modern French l’Angleterre, la mort. (4.) Old French had distinct pronouncs for "this" and "that" – cest (ecce istum) and (ecce illum), with their cases. Both exist in the 16th century, but the present language employs cet as adjective, cel as substantive, in both meanings, marking the old distinction by affixing the adverbs ci and la-cet homme-ci, cet homme-la; celui-ci, celvui-la. (5.) In Old French, the verbal terminations being clear, the subject pronoun is usually not expressed- si ferai 9sic facere habeo), est durs (durus est), que feras (qvid facere habes)? In the 16th century the use of the pronoun is general, and is now universal except in one or two impersonal phrases, as n’imprte, peu s’en faut. (6.) The present participle in Old French in its uninflected form coincided with the gerund (amant=amantem and amando) and in the modern language has been replaced by the latter, except where it has become adjectival; the Old French complaingnans leur dolours (Latin plangentes) is now plaignant leurs douleurs (Latin plangendo). The now extinct use of ester with the participle present for the simple verb is not uncommon in Old French down to the 16th century-sont disanz (sunt dicentes) = Modern French ils dissent (as English they are saying(. (7.) In present Modern French the preterite participle when used with avoir to form verb-tenses is invariable, except when the object precedes (an exception now unknown to the conversational language) – j ai ecrit letters, les letters que j’ai ecrites. In Old French down to the 16th century, formal concord was more common (though by no means necessary), partly because the object preceded the participle much oftener than now-ad la culutr muee (habet colorem mutatam), ad faite sa venjance, les turs ad rendues. (8.) The sentences just quoted will serve as specimens of the freedom of Old French word-order, the object standing either before verb and participle, between them, or after both. The predicative adjective can stand before or after the verb-halt sunt li pui(latin padia), e tenebrous e grant. (9.) In Old French ne (early Old French nen, Latin non) suffices for the negation without pas (passum), point (punctum) or mie (micam, now obsolete), though these are frequently used-jo ne sui ti sire (je ne suis pas ton seigneur),autre feme nen ara (il’n’aura pas aster femme). In principal sentences Modern French uses ne by itself only in certain cases – je ne puis marcher, je n’ai rien. The slight weight as a negation usually attached to ne has caused several originally positive words to take a negativemeaning, -rien (Latin rem) now meaning "nothing" as well as "something." (10.) In Old French interrogation was expressed with substantives as with pronouns by putting the, after the verb-est Saul entre les propjets? In Modern French the pronominal inversion (the substantive being prefixed) or a verbal periphrasis must be used-Saul est-il, or est-ce que Saul est.

(h) Summary. – Looking at the internal history of the French language as a whole, there is no such strongly marked division as exists between Old and Middle English, or even between Middle and Modern English. Some of the most important changes are quite modern, and are concealed by the traditional orthography; but, even making allowance for this, the difference between French of the 11th century and that of the 19th is less than that between English of the same dates. The most important change in itself and for its effects is probably that which is usually made the division between Old and Modern French, the loss of the formal distinction between nominative and accusative; next to this are perhaps the gradual loss of many final consonants, the still recent loss of the vowel of unaccented final syllables, and the extension of analogy in conjugation and declension. In its construction Old French is distinguished by a freedom strongly contrasting with the strictness of the modern language, and bears, as might be expected, a much stronger resemblance than the latter to the other Romanic dialects. In many features, indeed, both positive and negative, Modern French forms a class by itself, distinct in character from the other modern representatives of Latin.


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