Old French

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Old French_table_infobox_0

Old FrenchOld French_header_cell_0_0_0
PronunciationOld French_header_cell_0_1_0 [fɾãntsəɪs, [fɾãntswe, [romãntsOld French_cell_0_1_1
RegionOld French_header_cell_0_2_0 northern France, parts of Belgium (Wallonia), Scotland, England, Ireland, Principality of Antioch, Kingdom of CyprusOld French_cell_0_2_1
EraOld French_header_cell_0_3_0 evolved into Middle French by the 14th centuryOld French_cell_0_3_1
Language familyOld French_header_cell_0_4_0 Indo-EuropeanOld French_cell_0_4_1
Language codesOld French_header_cell_0_5_0
ISO 639-2Old French_header_cell_0_6_0 Old French_cell_0_6_1
ISO 639-3Old French_header_cell_0_7_0 Old French_cell_0_7_1
GlottologOld French_header_cell_0_8_0 Old French_cell_0_8_1

Old French (franceis, françois, romanz; Modern French: ancien français) was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. Old French_sentence_0

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. Old French_sentence_1

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. Old French_sentence_2

The region 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 commerce. Old French_sentence_3

Areal and dialectal divisions Old French_section_0

Further information: Langue d'oïl and Gallo-Romance Old French_sentence_4

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. Old French_sentence_5

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. Old French_sentence_6

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. Old French_sentence_7

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. Old French_sentence_8

Dialects or variants of Old French include: Old French_sentence_9

Old French_unordered_list_0

Some modern languages are derived from Old French dialects other than Classical French, which is based on the Île-de-France dialect. Old French_sentence_10

They include Angevin, Berrichon, Bourguignon-Morvandiau, Champenois, Franc-Comtois, Gallo, Lorrain, Norman, Picard, Poitevin, Saintongeais and Walloon. Old French_sentence_11

History Old French_section_1

Evolution and separation from Vulgar Latin Old French_section_2

Beginning with Plautus' 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. Old French_sentence_12

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). Old French_sentence_13

Vulgar Latin was the ancestor of the Romance languages, including Old French. Old French_sentence_14

By the late 8th century, when the Carolingian Renaissance began, native speakers of Romance idioms continued to use Romance orthoepy rules while talking and reading Latin. Old French_sentence_15

When the most prominent scholar of Western Europe at the time, British deacon Alcuin, was tasked by Charlemagne with improving the standards of Latin writing in France, being not a native Romance speaker himself, he prescribed a pronunciation based on a fairly literal interpretation of Latin spelling. Old French_sentence_16

For example, in a radical break from the traditional system, a word such as ⟨viridiarium⟩ 'orchard' now had to be read aloud precisely as it was spelled rather than */verdʒjær/ (later spelled as Old French vergier). Old French_sentence_17

Such a radical change had the effect of rendering Latin sermons completely unintelligible to the general romance-speaking public, which prompted officials a few years later, at the Third Council of Tours, to instruct priests to read sermons aloud in the old way, in rusticam romanam linguam or 'plain Roman[ce] speech'. Old French_sentence_18

As there was now no unambiguous way to indicate whether a given text was to be read aloud as Latin or Romance, various attempts were made in France to devise a new orthography for the latter; among the earliest examples are parts of the Oaths of Strasbourg and the Sequence of Saint Eulalia (see below). Old French_sentence_19

Non-Latin influences Old French_section_3

Gaulish Old French_section_4

Further information: List of French words of Gaulish origin Old French_sentence_20

Some Gaulish words influenced Vulgar Latin and, through this, other Romance languages. Old French_sentence_21

For example, classical Latin was uniformly replaced in Vulgar Latin by 'nag, work horse', derived from Gaulish caballos (cf. Old French_sentence_22

Welsh ceffyl, Breton kefel), giving Modern French , Occitan caval (chaval), Catalan , Spanish , Portuguese , Italian , Romanian , and, by extension, English . Old French_sentence_23

An estimated 200 words of Gaulish etymology survive in modern French, for example 'oak tree' and 'plough'. Old French_sentence_24

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. Old French_sentence_25

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). Old French_sentence_26

There, the Greek word paropsid-es (written in Latin) appears as paraxsid-i. Old French_sentence_27

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. Old French_sentence_28

chétif; cf. Old French_sentence_29

Irish cacht 'servant'; ≠ Italian cattiv-ità, Portuguese cativo, Spanish cautivo). Old French_sentence_30

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). Old French_sentence_31

The Celtic Gaulish language is thought to have survived into the 6th century in France, despite considerable cultural Romanization. Old French_sentence_32

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. Old French_sentence_33

Recent computational studies suggest that early gender shifts may have been motivated by the gender of the corresponding word in Gaulish. Old French_sentence_34

Frankish Old French_section_5

Further information: List of French words of Germanic origin Old French_sentence_35

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. Old French_sentence_36

The name français itself is derived from the name the Franks. Old French_sentence_37

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). Old French_sentence_38

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. Old French_sentence_39

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. Old French_sentence_40

This Germanic language shaped the popular Latin spoken here and gave it a very distinctive identity compared to the other future Romance languages. Old French_sentence_41

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: Old French_sentence_42

Old French_unordered_list_1

  • Latin decimus, -a 'tenth' > OF disme > F dîme 'tithe' (> E dime; Italian decimo, Spanish diezmo)Old French_item_1_6
  • VL dignitate > OF deintié (> E dainty; Italian dignità, Romanian demnitate)Old French_item_1_7
  • VL catena > OF chaeine (> E chain; Italian catena, Cast./Occitan cadena, Portuguese cadeia)Old French_item_1_8

Additionally, two phonemes that had long since died out in Vulgar Latin were reintroduced: [h] and [w] (> OF g(u)-, ONF w- cf. Old French_sentence_43

Picard w-): Old French_sentence_44

Old French_unordered_list_2

  • VL altu > OF halt 'high' (influenced by OLF *hōh ; ≠ Italian, Portuguese alto, Catalan alt, Old Occitan aut)Old French_item_2_9
  • L vespa > F guêpe, Picard wèpe, Wallon wèsse, all 'wasp' (influenced by OLF *wapsa; ≠ Occitan vèspa, Italian vespa, Spanish avispa)Old French_item_2_10
  • L viscus > F gui 'mistletoe' (influenced by OLF *wīhsila 'morello' with analogous fruits, when they are not ripe; ≠ Occitan vesc, Italian vischio)Old French_item_2_11
  • LL vulpiculu 'fox kit' (from L vulpes 'fox') > OF golpilz, Picard woupil 'fox' (influenced by OLF *wulf 'wolf'; ≠ Occitan volpìlh, Old Italian volpiglio, Spanish vulpeja 'vixen')Old French_item_2_12

In contrast, the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish words of Germanic origin borrowed from French or directly from Germanic retain /gw/ ~ /g/, e.g. Old French_sentence_45

It, Sp. guerra 'war', alongside /g/ in French guerre). Old French_sentence_46

These examples show a clear consequence of bilingualism, that sometimes even changed the first syllable of the Latin words. Old French_sentence_47

One example of a Latin word influencing an Old Low Franconian loan is framboise 'raspberry', from OF frambeise, from OLF *brāmbesi 'blackberry' (cf. Old French_sentence_48

Dutch braambes, braambezie; akin to German Brombeere, English dial. Old French_sentence_49

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'). Old French_sentence_50

Mildred 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 Middle-French language borrowed heavily from Latin and Italian). Old French_sentence_51

Earliest written Old French Old French_section_6

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): Old French_sentence_52

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. Old French_sentence_53

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); however, The Capetians' langue d'oïl, the forerunner of modern standard French, did not begin to become the common speech of all of France until after the French Revolution. Old French_sentence_54

Transition to Middle French Old French_section_7

Further information: Middle French Old French_sentence_55

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. Old French_sentence_56

During the Early Modern period, French was established as the official language of the Kingdom of France throughout the realm, including the langue d'oc-speaking territories in the south. Old French_sentence_57

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. Old French_sentence_58

Literature Old French_section_8

Main article: Medieval French literature Old French_sentence_59

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_sentence_60

Old French gave way to Middle French in the mid-14th century, paving the way for early French Renaissance literature of the 15th century. Old French_sentence_61

The earliest extant French literary texts date from the ninth century, but very few texts before the 11th century have survived. Old French_sentence_62

The first literary works written in Old French were saints' lives. Old French_sentence_63

The Canticle of Saint Eulalie, written in the second half of the 9th century, is generally accepted as the first such text. Old French_sentence_64

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). Old French_sentence_65

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. Old French_sentence_66

More than one hundred chansons de geste have survived in around three hundred manuscripts. Old French_sentence_67

The oldest and most celebrated of the chansons de geste is The Song of Roland (earliest version composed in the late 11th century). Old French_sentence_68

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. Old French_sentence_69

A fourth grouping, not listed by Bertrand, is the Crusade cycle, dealing with the First Crusade and its immediate aftermath. Old French_sentence_70

Jean Bodel's other two categories—the "Matter of Rome" and the "Matter of Britain"—concern the French romance or roman. Old French_sentence_71

Around a hundred verse romances survive from the period 1150–1220. Old French_sentence_72

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. Old French_sentence_73

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. Old French_sentence_74

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. Old French_sentence_75

Lyric poets in Old French are called trouvères – etymologically the same word as the troubadours of Provençal or langue d'oc (from the verb trobar "to find, to invent"). Old French_sentence_76

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. Old French_sentence_77

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). Old French_sentence_78

The best-known poet and composer of ars nova secular music and chansons of the incipient Middle French period was Guillaume de Machaut. Old French_sentence_79

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. Old French_sentence_80

Most historians place the origin of medieval drama in the church's liturgical dialogues and "tropes". Old French_sentence_81

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. Old French_sentence_82

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. Old French_sentence_83

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). Old French_sentence_84

A large body of fables survive in Old French; these include (mostly anonymous) literature dealing with the recurring trickster character of Reynard the Fox. Old French_sentence_85

Marie de France was also active in this genre, producing the Ysopet (Little Aesop) series of fables in verse. Old French_sentence_86

Related to the fable was the more bawdy fabliau, which covered topics such as cuckolding and corrupt clergy. Old French_sentence_87

These fabliaux would be an important source for Chaucer and for the Renaissance short story (conte or nouvelle). Old French_sentence_88

Among the earliest works of rhetoric and logic to appear in Old French were the translations of Rhetorica ad Herennium and Boethius' De topicis differentiis by John of Antioch in 1282. Old French_sentence_89

Phonology Old French_section_9

See also: Phonological history of French Old French_sentence_90

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. Old French_sentence_91

The writing system at this time was more phonetic than that used in most subsequent centuries. Old French_sentence_92

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. Old French_sentence_93

The phonological system can be summarised as follows: Old French_sentence_94

Consonants Old French_section_10

Old French_table_general_1

Old French consonantsOld French_table_caption_1
Old French_header_cell_1_0_0 LabialOld French_header_cell_1_0_1 DentalOld French_header_cell_1_0_2 PalatalOld French_header_cell_1_0_3 VelarOld French_header_cell_1_0_4 GlottalOld French_header_cell_1_0_5
NasalOld French_header_cell_1_1_0 mOld French_cell_1_1_1 nOld French_cell_1_1_2 ɲOld French_cell_1_1_3 Old French_cell_1_1_4 Old French_cell_1_1_5
PlosiveOld French_header_cell_1_2_0 p bOld French_cell_1_2_1 t dOld French_cell_1_2_2 Old French_cell_1_2_3 k ɡOld French_cell_1_2_4 Old French_cell_1_2_5
AffricateOld French_header_cell_1_3_0 Old French_cell_1_3_1 ts dzOld French_cell_1_3_2 Old French_cell_1_3_3 Old French_cell_1_3_4 Old French_cell_1_3_5
FricativeOld French_header_cell_1_4_0 f vOld French_cell_1_4_1 s zOld French_cell_1_4_2 Old French_cell_1_4_3 Old French_cell_1_4_4 (h)Old French_cell_1_4_5
LateralOld French_header_cell_1_5_0 Old French_cell_1_5_1 lOld French_cell_1_5_2 ʎOld French_cell_1_5_3 Old French_cell_1_5_4 Old French_cell_1_5_5
TrillOld French_header_cell_1_6_0 Old French_cell_1_6_1 rOld French_cell_1_6_2 Old French_cell_1_6_3 Old French_cell_1_6_4 Old French_cell_1_6_5

Notes: Old French_sentence_95

Old French_unordered_list_3

  • All obstruents (plosives, fricatives and affricates) were subject to word-final devoicing, which was usually indicated in the orthography.Old French_item_3_13
  • The affricates /ts/, /dz/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/ became fricatives ([s], [z], [ʃ], [ʒ]) in Middle French.Old French_item_3_14
    • /ts/ had three spellings – c before e or i, ç before other vowels, or z at the end of a word – as seen in cent, chançon, priz ("a hundred, song, price").Old French_item_3_15
    • /dz/ was written as z, as in doze "twelve", and did not occur word-initially.Old French_item_3_16
  • /ʎ/ (l mouillé), as in conseil, travaillier ("advice, to work"), became /j/ in Modern French.Old French_item_3_17
  • /ɲ/ appeared not only in the middle of a word, but also at the end, as in poing "fist". At the end of a word, /ɲ/ was later lost, leaving a nasalized vowel.Old French_item_3_18
  • /h/ was found only in Germanic loanwords and was later lost (although it is transphonologized as the so-called aspirated h that blocks liaison). In native Latin words, /h/ was lost early on, as in om, uem, from Latin homō.Old French_item_3_19
  • Intervocalic /d/ from both Latin /t/ and /d/ was lenited to [ð] in the early period (cf. contemporary Spanish: amado [aˈmaðo]). At the end of words it was also devoiced to [θ]. In some texts it was sometimes written as dh or th (aiudha, cadhuna, Ludher, vithe). By 1100 it disappeared altogether.Old French_item_3_20

Vowels Old French_section_11

In Old French, the nasal vowels were not separate phonemes but only allophones of the oral vowels before a nasal consonant. Old French_sentence_96

The nasal consonant was fully pronounced; bon was pronounced [bõn] (Modern French [bɔ̃]). Old French_sentence_97

Nasal vowels were present even in open syllables before nasals where Modern French has oral vowels, as in bone [bõnə] (Modern French bonne [bɔn]). Old French_sentence_98

Monophthongs Old French_section_12

Old French_table_general_2

Old French vowelsOld French_table_caption_2
Old French_header_cell_2_0_0 FrontOld French_header_cell_2_0_2 CentralOld French_header_cell_2_0_3 BackOld French_header_cell_2_0_4
CloseOld French_header_cell_2_1_0 oralOld French_header_cell_2_1_1 i   yOld French_cell_2_1_2 Old French_cell_2_1_3 uOld French_cell_2_1_4
nasalOld French_header_cell_2_2_0 [ĩ ]  [ỹ]Old French_cell_2_2_1 Old French_cell_2_2_2
Close-midOld French_header_cell_2_3_0 oralOld French_header_cell_2_3_1 eOld French_cell_2_3_2 əOld French_cell_2_3_3 Old French_cell_2_3_4
nasalOld French_header_cell_2_4_0 [ẽ]Old French_cell_2_4_1 [õ]Old French_cell_2_4_2
Open-midOld French_header_cell_2_5_0 ɛOld French_cell_2_5_2 Old French_cell_2_5_3 ɔOld French_cell_2_5_4
OpenOld French_header_cell_2_6_0 oralOld French_header_cell_2_6_1 aOld French_cell_2_6_2
nasalOld French_header_cell_2_7_0 [ã]Old French_cell_2_7_1

Notes: Old French_sentence_99

Old French_unordered_list_4

  • /o/ had formerly existed but then closed to /u/; the original Western Romance /u/ having previously been fronted to /y/ across most of what is now France and northern Italy.Old French_item_4_21
    • /o/ would later appear again when /aw/ monophthongized and also when /ɔ/ closed in certain positions (such as when it was followed by original /s/ or /z/ but not by /ts/, which later became /s/).Old French_item_4_22
    • /õ/ may have similarly become closed to /ũ/, in at least in some dialects, since it was borrowed into Middle English as /uːn/ > /aʊn/ (Latin computāre > OF conter > English count; Latin rotundum > OF ront > English round; Latin bonitātem > OF bonté > English bounty). In any case, traces of such a change were erased in later stages of French, when the close nasal vowels /ĩ ỹ õ~ũ/ were opened to become /ɛ̃ œ̃ ɔ̃/.Old French_item_4_23
  • /ə̃/ may have existed in the unstressed third-person plural verb ending -ent, but it may have already passed to /ə/, which is known to have happened no later than the Middle French period.Old French_item_4_24

Diphthongs and triphthongs Old French_section_13

Old French_table_general_3

Late Old French diphthongs and triphthongsOld French_table_caption_3
Old French_header_cell_3_0_0 IPAOld French_header_cell_3_0_1 ExampleOld French_header_cell_3_0_2 MeaningOld French_header_cell_3_0_3
fallingOld French_header_cell_3_1_0
OralOld French_header_cell_3_2_0 /aw/Old French_cell_3_2_1 Old French_cell_3_2_2 horseOld French_cell_3_2_3
/ɔj/Old French_cell_3_3_0 Old French_cell_3_3_1 roofOld French_cell_3_3_2
/ɔw/Old French_cell_3_4_0 Old French_cell_3_4_1 blow, hitOld French_cell_3_4_2
/ew/ ~ /øw/Old French_cell_3_5_0 Old French_cell_3_5_1 nephewOld French_cell_3_5_2
/iw/ ~ /iɥ/Old French_cell_3_6_0 Old French_cell_3_6_1 tileOld French_cell_3_6_2
NasalOld French_header_cell_3_7_0 /ẽj/Old French_cell_3_7_1 Old French_cell_3_7_2 fullOld French_cell_3_7_3
/õj/Old French_cell_3_8_0 Old French_cell_3_8_1 farOld French_cell_3_8_2
risingOld French_header_cell_3_9_0
OralOld French_header_cell_3_10_0 /je/Old French_cell_3_10_1 Old French_cell_3_10_2 footOld French_cell_3_10_3
/ɥi/Old French_cell_3_11_0 Old French_cell_3_11_1 fruitOld French_cell_3_11_2
/we/ ~ /wø/Old French_cell_3_12_0 Old French_cell_3_12_1 heartOld French_cell_3_12_2
NasalOld French_header_cell_3_13_0 /jẽ/Old French_cell_3_13_1 Old French_cell_3_13_2 wellOld French_cell_3_13_3
/ɥĩ/Old French_cell_3_14_0 Old French_cell_3_14_1 JulyOld French_cell_3_14_2
/wẽ/Old French_cell_3_15_0 Old French_cell_3_15_1 count (nom. sg.)Old French_cell_3_15_2
triphthongs

stress always falls on middle vowelOld French_header_cell_3_16_0

OralOld French_header_cell_3_17_0 /e̯aw/Old French_cell_3_17_1 Old French_cell_3_17_2 beautifulOld French_cell_3_17_3
/jew/Old French_cell_3_18_0 Old French_cell_3_18_1 GodOld French_cell_3_18_2
/wew/ ~ /wøw/Old French_cell_3_19_0 Old French_cell_3_19_1 JewOld French_cell_3_19_2

Notes: Old French_sentence_100

Old French_unordered_list_5

  • In Early Old French (up to about the mid-12th century), the spelling ⟨ai⟩ represented a diphthong /aj/ instead of the later monophthong /ɛ/, and ⟨ei⟩ represented the diphthong /ej/, which merged with /oj/ in Late Old French (except when it was nasalized).Old French_item_5_25
  • In Early Old French, the diphthongs described above as "rising" may have been falling diphthongs (/ie̯/, /yj/, /ue̯/). In earlier works with vowel assonance, the diphthong written ⟨ie⟩ did not assonate with any pure vowels, which suggests that it cannot have simply been /je/.Old French_item_5_26
  • The pronunciation of the vowels written ⟨ue⟩ and ⟨eu⟩ is debated. In the first records of Early Old French, they represented and were written as /uo/, /ou/, and by Middle French, they had both merged as /ø ~ œ/, but the transitional pronunciations are unclear.Old French_item_5_27
  • Early Old French had additional triphthongs /iej/ and /uoj/ (equivalent to diphthongs followed by /j/); these soon merged into /i/ and /ɥi/ respectively.Old French_item_5_28
  • The diphthong ⟨iu⟩ was rare and had merged into ⟨ui⟩ by Middle French (OF tiule > MF tuile 'tile'; OF siure > Late OF suire > MF suivre 'follow').Old French_item_5_29

Hiatus Old French_section_14

In addition to diphthongs, Old French had many instances of hiatus between adjacent vowels because of the loss of an intervening consonant. Old French_sentence_101

Manuscripts generally do not distinguish hiatus from true diphthongs, but modern scholarly transcription indicates it with a diaeresis, as in Modern French: Old French_sentence_102

Old French_unordered_list_6

  • Latin audīre > OF /uˈir/ 'hear' (Modern ouïr)Old French_item_6_30
  • Vulgar Latin *vidūta > OF /vəˈy.ə/ 'seen' (Modern vue)Old French_item_6_31
  • Latin rēgīnam > OF , /rəˈinə/ 'queen' (Modern reine)Old French_item_6_32
  • Latin pāgēnsem > OF /paˈis/ 'country' (Modern pays)Old French_item_6_33
  • Latin augustum > OF /aˈu(s)t/ 'August' (Modern août)Old French_item_6_34
  • Latin patellam > OF /paˈɛlə/ 'pan' (Modern poêle)Old French_item_6_35
  • Late Latin quaternum > OF /kwaˈjer/ 'booklet, quire' (Modern cahier)Old French_item_6_36
  • Late Latin aetāticum > OF , /aˈad͡ʒə/ ~ /əˈad͡ʒə/ 'age' (Modern âge)Old French_item_6_37

Grammar Old French_section_15

Nouns Old French_section_16

Old French maintained a two-case system, with a nominative case and an oblique case, for longer than some other Romance languages as Spanish and Italian did. Old French_sentence_103

Case distinctions, at least in the masculine gender, were marked on both the definite article and the noun itself. Old French_sentence_104

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: Old French_sentence_105

Old French_table_general_4

Evolution of the nominal masculine inflection from Classical Latin to Old FrenchOld French_table_caption_4
Old French_header_cell_4_0_0 LatinOld French_header_cell_4_0_2 Vulgar LatinOld French_header_cell_4_0_3 Old FrenchOld French_header_cell_4_0_4
SingularOld French_header_cell_4_1_0 nominativeOld French_header_cell_4_1_1 ille vicīnusOld French_cell_4_1_2 (el)le vecīnosOld French_cell_4_1_3 li veisinsOld French_cell_4_1_4
oblique

(Latin accusative)Old French_header_cell_4_2_0

illum vicīnumOld French_cell_4_2_1 (el)lo vecīnoOld French_cell_4_2_2 le veisinOld French_cell_4_2_3
PluralOld French_header_cell_4_3_0 nominativeOld French_header_cell_4_3_1 illī vicīnīOld French_cell_4_3_2 (el)lī vecīniOld French_cell_4_3_3 li veisinOld French_cell_4_3_4
oblique

(Latin accusative)Old French_header_cell_4_4_0

illōs vicīnōsOld French_cell_4_4_1 (el)los vecīnosOld French_cell_4_4_2 les veisinsOld French_cell_4_4_3

In later Old French, the distinctions had become moribund. Old French_sentence_106

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). Old French_sentence_107

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: Old French_sentence_108

Old French_unordered_list_7

  • Both OFr li sire, le sieur (Latin seiior, seiiōrem) and le seignor (nom. sendre; Latin senior, seniōrem) survive in the vocabulary of later French (sire, sieur, seigneur) as different ways to refer to a feudal lord.Old French_item_7_38
  • Modern French "sister" is the nominative form (Old French < Latin nominative soror); the Old French oblique form seror (< Latin accusative sorōrem) no longer survives.Old French_item_7_39
  • Modern French "priest" is the nominative form (Old French < presbyter); the Old French oblique form , later (< presbyterem) survives only in the Paris street name Rue des Prouvaires.Old French_item_7_40
  • Modern French indefinite pronoun "one" continues Old French nominative "man" (< homō); "man" continues the oblique form (OF < hominem).Old French_item_7_41

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. Old French_sentence_109

An example is "son" (< Latin nominative fīlius), spelled to distinguish it from "wire". Old French_sentence_110

In this case, a later spelling pronunciation has resulted in the modern pronunciation /fis/ (earlier /fi/). Old French_sentence_111

As in Spanish and Italian, the neuter gender was eliminated, and most old neuter nouns became masculine. Old French_sentence_112

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). Old French_sentence_113

Nouns were declined in the following declensions: Old French_sentence_114

Class I is derived from the Latin first declension. Old French_sentence_115

Class Ia mostly comes from Latin feminine nouns in the third declension. Old French_sentence_116

Class II is derived from the Latin second declension. Old French_sentence_117

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. Old French_sentence_118

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. Old French_sentence_119

Class III nouns show a separate form in the nominative singular that does not occur in any of the other forms. Old French_sentence_120

IIIa nouns ended in -ātor, -ātōrem in Latin and preserve the stress shift; IIIb nouns also had a stress shift, from -ō to -ōnem. Old French_sentence_121

IIIc nouns are an Old French creation and have no clear Latin antecedent. Old French_sentence_122

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). Old French_sentence_123

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, (shepherd) becomes (Modern French and ). Old French_sentence_124

Adjectives Old French_section_17

Adjectives agree in terms of number, gender and case with the noun that they are qualifying. Old French_sentence_125

Thus, a feminine plural noun in the nominative case requires any qualifying adjectives to be feminine, plural and nominative. Old French_sentence_126

For example, in femes riches, has to be in the feminine plural form. Old French_sentence_127

Adjectives can be divided into three declensional classes: Old French_sentence_128

Old French_unordered_list_8

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. Old French_sentence_129

Class Ia adjectives have a masculine nominative singular ending in -s: Old French_sentence_130

Old French_description_list_9

  • "good" (< Latin , > modern French )Old French_item_9_45

Old French_description_list_10

  • Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Nominative bons bon bone bones bon Oblique bon bons —Old French_item_10_46

For Class Ib adjectives, the masculine nominative singular ends in -e, like the feminine. Old French_sentence_131

There are descendants of Latin second- and third-declension adjectives ending in -er in the nominative singular: Old French_sentence_132

Old French_description_list_11

  • aspre "harsh" (< Latin , > modern French )Old French_item_11_47

Old French_description_list_12

  • Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Nominative aspre aspre aspre aspres aspre Oblique aspres —Old French_item_12_48

For Class II adjectives, the feminine singular is not marked by the ending -e: Old French_sentence_133

Old French_description_list_13

  • "big, great" (< Latin , > modern French )Old French_item_13_49

Old French_description_list_14

  • Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Nominative granz grant granz/grant granz grant Oblique grant granz grant —Old French_item_14_50

An important subgroup of Class II adjectives is the present participial forms in -ant. Old French_sentence_134

Class III adjectives have a stem alternation, resulting from stress shift in the Latin third declension and a distinct neuter form: Old French_sentence_135

Old French_description_list_15

  • "better" (< Latin , > modern French )Old French_item_15_51

Old French_description_list_16

  • Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Nominative mieudre(s) meillor mieudre meillors mieuz Oblique meillor meillors meillor —Old French_item_16_52

In later Old French, Classes II and III tended to be moved across to Class I, which was complete by Middle French. Old French_sentence_136

Modern French thus has only a single adjective declension, unlike most other Romance languages, which have two or more. Old French_sentence_137

Verbs Old French_section_18

Verbs in Old French show the same extreme phonological deformations as other Old French words; however, morphologically, 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_sentence_138

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. Old French_sentence_139

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. Old French_sentence_140

The following paradigm is typical in showing the phonologically regular but morphologically irregular alternations of most paradigms: Old French_sentence_141

Old French_unordered_list_17

  • The alternation je lef ~ tu leves is a regular result of the final devoicing triggered by loss of final /o/ but not /a/.Old French_item_17_53
  • The alternation laver ~ tu leves is a regular result of the diphthongization of a stressed open syllable /a/ into /ae/ > /æ/ > /e/.Old French_item_17_54
  • The alternation je lef ~ tu les ~ il let in the subjunctive is a regular result of the simplification of the final clusters /fs/ and /ft/, resulting from loss of /e/ in final syllables.Old French_item_17_55

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. Old French_sentence_142

All serve to eliminate the various alternations in the Old French verb paradigm. Old French_sentence_143

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. Old French_sentence_144

The simple past also shows extensive analogical reformation and simplification in Modern French, as compared with Old French. Old French_sentence_145

The Latin pluperfect was preserved in very early Old French as a past tense with a value similar to a preterite or imperfect. Old French_sentence_146

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 French_sentence_147

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). Old French_sentence_148

Verb alternations Old French_section_19

In Latin, stress was determined automatically by the number of syllables in a word and the weight (length) of the syllables. Old French_sentence_149

That resulted in certain automatic stress shifts between related forms in a paradigm, depending on the nature of the suffixes added. Old French_sentence_150

For example, in pensō "I think", the first syllable was stressed, but in pensāmus "we think", the second syllable was stressed. Old French_sentence_151

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"). Old French_sentence_152

In the development of French, at least five vowels diphthongized in stressed, open syllables. Old French_sentence_153

Combined with other stress-dependent developments, that yielded 15 or so types of alternations in so-called strong verbs in Old French. Old French_sentence_154

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). Old French_sentence_155

The different types are as follows: Old French_sentence_156

Old French_table_general_5

Vowel alternations in Old French verbsOld French_table_caption_5
Vowel alternationOld French_header_cell_5_0_0 EnvironmentOld French_header_cell_5_0_2 Example (-er conjugation)Old French_header_cell_5_0_3 Example (other conjugation)Old French_header_cell_5_0_7
StressedOld French_header_cell_5_1_0 UnstressedOld French_header_cell_5_1_1 Latin etymonOld French_header_cell_5_1_2 3rd singular

pres. ind.Old French_header_cell_5_1_3

InfinitiveOld French_header_cell_5_1_4 meaningOld French_header_cell_5_1_5 Latin etymonOld French_header_cell_5_1_6 3rd singular

pres. ind.Old French_header_cell_5_1_7

Infinitive

/ Other formOld French_header_cell_5_1_8

meaningOld French_header_cell_5_1_9
/e/Old French_cell_5_2_0 /a/Old French_cell_5_2_1 free /a/Old French_cell_5_2_2 lavāreOld French_cell_5_2_3 leveOld French_cell_5_2_4 laverOld French_cell_5_2_5 "to wash"Old French_cell_5_2_6 parere >
*parīreOld French_cell_5_2_7
pertOld French_cell_5_2_8 parirOld French_cell_5_2_9 "to give birth"Old French_cell_5_2_10
/ãj̃/Old French_cell_5_3_0 /ã/Old French_cell_5_3_1 free /a/ + nasalOld French_cell_5_3_2 amāreOld French_cell_5_3_3 aimeOld French_cell_5_3_4 amerOld French_cell_5_3_5 "to love"Old French_cell_5_3_6 manēreOld French_cell_5_3_7 maintOld French_cell_5_3_8 maneir, manoirOld French_cell_5_3_9 "to remain"Old French_cell_5_3_10
/je/Old French_cell_5_4_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_4_1 palatal + free /a/Old French_cell_5_4_2 *accapāreOld French_cell_5_4_3 achieveOld French_cell_5_4_4 acheverOld French_cell_5_4_5 "to achieve"Old French_cell_5_4_6 Old French_cell_5_4_7
/i/Old French_cell_5_5_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_5_1 palatal + /a/ + palatalOld French_cell_5_5_2 *concacāreOld French_cell_5_5_3 conchieOld French_cell_5_5_4 concheerOld French_cell_5_5_5 "to expel"Old French_cell_5_5_6 iacēreOld French_cell_5_5_7 gistOld French_cell_5_5_8 gesirOld French_cell_5_5_9 "to lie (down)"Old French_cell_5_5_10
/a/Old French_cell_5_6_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_6_1 palatal + blocked /a/Old French_cell_5_6_2 *accapitāreOld French_cell_5_6_3 achateOld French_cell_5_6_4 acheterOld French_cell_5_6_5 "to buy"Old French_cell_5_6_6 cadere >
  • cadēreOld French_cell_5_6_7
chietOld French_cell_5_6_8 cheoirOld French_cell_5_6_9 "to fall"Old French_cell_5_6_10
/a/Old French_cell_5_7_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_7_1 intertonic /a/ + palatal?Old French_cell_5_7_2 *tripaliāreOld French_cell_5_7_3 travailleOld French_cell_5_7_4 traveillierOld French_cell_5_7_5 "to torment, make suffer"Old French_cell_5_7_6 Old French_cell_5_7_7
/je/Old French_cell_5_8_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_8_1 free /ɛ/Old French_cell_5_8_2 levāreOld French_cell_5_8_3 lieveOld French_cell_5_8_4 leverOld French_cell_5_8_5 "to raise"Old French_cell_5_8_6 sedēreOld French_cell_5_8_7 sietOld French_cell_5_8_8 seeir, seoirOld French_cell_5_8_9 "to sit; suit, be fitting"Old French_cell_5_8_10
/jẽ/Old French_cell_5_9_0 /ẽ/Old French_cell_5_9_1 free /ɛ/ + nasalOld French_cell_5_9_2 Old French_cell_5_9_3 tremere >
  • cremereOld French_cell_5_9_7
crientOld French_cell_5_9_8 creindre (var. cremir, -oir)Old French_cell_5_9_9 "to fear"Old French_cell_5_9_10
/i/Old French_cell_5_10_0 /ej/Old French_cell_5_10_1 /ɛ/ + palatalOld French_cell_5_10_2 pretiāreOld French_cell_5_10_3 priseOld French_cell_5_10_4 preiserOld French_cell_5_10_5 "to value"Old French_cell_5_10_6 exīreOld French_cell_5_10_7 istOld French_cell_5_10_8 eissirOld French_cell_5_10_9 "to exit, go out"Old French_cell_5_10_10
/ɛ/Old French_cell_5_11_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_11_1 intertonic /ɛ, e/ + double cons.Old French_cell_5_11_2 appellāreOld French_cell_5_11_3 apeleOld French_cell_5_11_4 apelerOld French_cell_5_11_5 "to call"Old French_cell_5_11_6 Old French_cell_5_11_7
/oj/Old French_cell_5_12_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_12_1 free /e/Old French_cell_5_12_2 adhaerāre >
*adēsāreOld French_cell_5_12_3
adoiseOld French_cell_5_12_4 adeserOld French_cell_5_12_5 "to touch"Old French_cell_5_12_6 Old French_cell_5_12_7
/ẽj̃/Old French_cell_5_13_0 /ẽ/Old French_cell_5_13_1 free /e/ + nasalOld French_cell_5_13_2 mināreOld French_cell_5_13_3 meineOld French_cell_5_13_4 menerOld French_cell_5_13_5 "to lead"Old French_cell_5_13_6 Old French_cell_5_13_7
/i/Old French_cell_5_14_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_14_1 palatal + free /e/Old French_cell_5_14_2 Old French_cell_5_14_3 Old French_cell_5_14_7
/oj/Old French_cell_5_15_0 /i/Old French_cell_5_15_1 intertonic /e/ + palatalOld French_cell_5_15_2 -Old French_cell_5_15_3 charroieOld French_cell_5_15_4 charrierOld French_cell_5_15_5 "to cart around"Old French_cell_5_15_6 Old French_cell_5_15_7
/we/Old French_cell_5_16_0 /u/Old French_cell_5_16_1 free /ɔ/Old French_cell_5_16_2 *tropāreOld French_cell_5_16_3 trueveOld French_cell_5_16_4 truverOld French_cell_5_16_5 "to invent, discover"Old French_cell_5_16_6 morī >
  • morīreOld French_cell_5_16_7
muertOld French_cell_5_16_8 mourirOld French_cell_5_16_9 "to die"Old French_cell_5_16_10
/uj/Old French_cell_5_17_0 /oj/Old French_cell_5_17_1 /ɔ/ + palatalOld French_cell_5_17_2 *appodiāreOld French_cell_5_17_3 apuieOld French_cell_5_17_4 apoiierOld French_cell_5_17_5 "to lean"Old French_cell_5_17_6 Old French_cell_5_17_7
/ew/Old French_cell_5_18_0 /u/Old French_cell_5_18_1 free /o/Old French_cell_5_18_2 dēmōrārīOld French_cell_5_18_3 demeureOld French_cell_5_18_4 demo(u)rerOld French_cell_5_18_5 "to stay"Old French_cell_5_18_6 cōnsuere >
*cōsereOld French_cell_5_18_7
queustOld French_cell_5_18_8 co(u)sdreOld French_cell_5_18_9 "to sew"Old French_cell_5_18_10
/u/Old French_cell_5_19_0 /e/Old French_cell_5_19_1 intertonic blocked /o/Old French_cell_5_19_2 *corruptiāreOld French_cell_5_19_3 courouceOld French_cell_5_19_4 courecierOld French_cell_5_19_5 "to get angry"Old French_cell_5_19_6 Old French_cell_5_19_7
/ũ/Old French_cell_5_20_0 /ã/Old French_cell_5_20_1 intertonic blocked /o/ + nasalOld French_cell_5_20_2 calumniārīOld French_cell_5_20_3 chalongeOld French_cell_5_20_4 chalengierOld French_cell_5_20_5 "to challenge"Old French_cell_5_20_6 Old French_cell_5_20_7

In Modern French, the verbs in the -er class have been systematically levelled. Old French_sentence_157

Generally, the "weak" (unstressed) form predominates, but there are some exceptions (such as modern aimer/nous aimons). Old French_sentence_158

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/. Old French_sentence_159

Many of the non-er verbs have become obsolete, and many of the remaining verbs have been levelled; however, a few alternations remain in what are now known as irregular verbs, such as je tiens, nous tenons; je dois, nous devons and je meurs, nous mourons. Old French_sentence_160

Some verbs had a more irregular alternation between different-length stems, with a longer, stressed stem alternating with a shorter, unstressed stem. Old French_sentence_161

That was a regular development stemming from the loss of unstressed intertonic vowels, which remained when they were stressed: Old French_sentence_162

Old French_unordered_list_18

  • j'aiu/aidier "help" < adiūtō, adiūtāreOld French_item_18_56
  • j'araison/araisnier "speak to" < adratiōnō, adratiōnāreOld French_item_18_57
  • je deraison/deraisnier "argue" < dēratiōnō, dēratiōnāreOld French_item_18_58
  • je desjun/disner "dine" < disiēiūnō, disiēiūnāreOld French_item_18_59
  • je manju/mangier "eat" < mandūcō, mandūcāreOld French_item_18_60
  • je parol/parler "speak" < *paraulō, *paraulāre < parabolō, parabolāreOld French_item_18_61

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). Old French_sentence_163

Both stems have become full verbs in Modern French: déjeuner "to have lunch" and dîner "to dine". Old French_sentence_164

Furthermore, déjeuner does not derive directly from je desjun (< *disi(ēi)ūnō, with total loss of unstressed -ēi-). Old French_sentence_165

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). Old French_sentence_166

Example of regular -er verb: durer (to last) Old French_section_20

Non-finite forms: Old French_sentence_167

Old French_unordered_list_19

  • Infinitive:Old French_item_19_62
  • Present participle: durantOld French_item_19_63
  • Past Participle: duréOld French_item_19_64

Auxiliary verb: avoir Old French_sentence_168

Example of regular -ir verb: fenir (to end) Old French_section_21

Non-finite forms: Old French_sentence_169

Old French_unordered_list_20

  • Infinitive:Old French_item_20_65
  • Present participle: fenissantOld French_item_20_66
  • Past participle: feni(t)Old French_item_20_67

Auxiliary verb: avoir Old French_sentence_170

Example of regular -re verb: corre (to run) Old French_section_22

Non-finite forms: Old French_sentence_171

Old French_unordered_list_21

  • Infinitive:Old French_item_21_68
  • Present participle: corantOld French_item_21_69
  • Past participle: coru(t)Old French_item_21_70

Auxiliary verb: estre Old French_sentence_172

Examples of auxiliary verbs Old French_section_23

avoir (to have) Old French_section_24

Non-finite forms: Old French_sentence_173

Old French_unordered_list_22

  • Infinitive: (earlier )Old French_item_22_71
  • Present participle: aiantOld French_item_22_72
  • Past participle: eü(t)Old French_item_22_73

Auxiliary verb: avoir Old French_sentence_174

estre (to be) Old French_section_25

Non-finite forms: Old French_sentence_175

Old French_unordered_list_23

  • Infinitive:Old French_item_23_74
  • Present participle: estantOld French_item_23_75
  • Past participle: esté(t)Old French_item_23_76

Auxiliary verb: avoir Old French_sentence_176

Other parts of speech Old French_section_26

Adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections are generally invariable, one notable exception being the adverb , like Modern French : all, every. Old French_sentence_177

See also Old French_section_27

Old French_unordered_list_24


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old French.