HOME

TheInfoList




Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the
French language French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of inf ...

French language
that covers the period from the 14th to the 16th century. It is a period of transition during which: * the French language became clearly distinguished from the other competing Oïl languages, which are sometimes subsumed within the concept of
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
() * the French language was imposed as the
official language An official language is a language given a special status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciar ...

official language
of the kingdom of France in place of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
and other Oïl and
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evol ...
languages * the literary development of French prepared the vocabulary and grammar for the
Classical French French is a Romance language The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic l ...
() spoken in the 17th and 18th centuries.


History

The most important change found in Middle French is the complete disappearance of the noun
declension In linguistics, declension is the changing of the form of a word, generally to express its syntactic function in the sentence, by way of some inflection. The inflectional change of verbs is called Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. Declensions ...
system (already underway for centuries). There is no longer a distinction between
nominative In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
and
oblique Oblique may refer to: * an alternative name for the character usually called a slash (punctuation) ( / ) *angle#Types of angles, Oblique angle, in geometry *Oblique triangle, in geometry *Leaf#Base, Oblique leaf base, a characteristic shape of the ...
forms of nouns, and plurals are indicated simply with an ''s''. This transformation necessitates an increased reliance on the order of words in the sentence, which becomes more or less the
syntax In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the ...

syntax
of modern French (although there is a continued reliance on the verb in the second position of a sentence, or " verb-second structure", until the 16th century). Among the elites, Latin was still the language of education, administration, and bureaucracy; this changed in 1539, with the
Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts The Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts (french: Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts) is an extensive piece of reform legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating Promulgation is the formal proclamation ...
, in which François I made French alone the language for legal acts. Regional differences were still extreme throughout France: In the south of France,
Occitan Occitan (; oc, occitan, link=no ,), also known as ''lenga d'òc'' (; french: langue d'oc) by its native speakers, is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evol ...
languages dominated; in east central France,
Franco-Provençal Franco-Provençal (also Francoprovençal, Patois, Gaga, Savoyard, Arpitan or Romand) is a dialect group within Gallo-Romance languages, Gallo-Romance originally spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland and northwestern Italy. Franco ...
languages were predominant; while, in the north of France, Oïl languages other than
Francien Francien is a 19th-century term in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas ...
continued to be spoken. The fascination with classical texts led to numerous borrowings from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
. Numerous
neologism A neologism (; from Greek νέο- ''néo-'', "new" and λόγος ''lógos'', "speech, utterance") is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted ...
s based on Latin roots were introduced, and some scholars modified the spelling of French words to bring them into conformity with their Latin roots, sometimes erroneously. This often produced a radical difference between a word's spelling and the way it was pronounced. Nevertheless, Middle French spelling was overall fairly close to the pronunciation; unlike modern French word-final consonants were still pronounced (though they were optionally lost when they preceded another consonant in the beginning of an immediately following word). The French wars in
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
and the presence of Italians in the French court brought the French into contact with Italian
humanism Humanism is a philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality is the ...

humanism
. Many words dealing with the military (''alarme'', ''cavalier'', ''espion'', ''infanterie'', ''camp'', ''canon'', ''soldat'') and artistic (especially architectural: ''arcade'', ''architrave'', ''balcon'', ''corridor''; also literary: ''sonnet'') practices were borrowed from Italian. These tendencies would continue through Classical French. There were also some borrowings from
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
(''casque'') and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
(''reître'') and from the Americas (''cacao'', ''hamac'', ''maïs'').Bonnard, p. 114. The influence of the
Anglo-Norman language Anglo-Norman, also known as Anglo-Norman French ( nrf, Anglo-Normaund), was a dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of phen ...
on
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
had left words of French and
Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of Normandy, descended from ...
origin in England. Some words of Romance origin now found their way back into French as doublets through war and trading contacts. Also, the meaning and usage of many words from Old French were transformed. Spelling and punctuation in this period are extremely variable. The introduction of printing in 1470 highlighted the need for reform in spelling. One proposed reform came from Jacques Peletier du Mans, who developed a phonetic spelling system and introduced new typographic signs (1550); but this attempt at spelling reform was not followed. This period saw the publication of the first French grammars and of the French-Latin dictionary of
Robert Estienne Robert I Estienne (; 15037 September 1559), known as ''Robertus Stephanus'' in Latin and sometimes referred to as ''Robert Stephens'', was a 16th-century printer and classical scholar in Paris. He was the proprietor of the Estienne print shop afte ...

Robert Estienne
(1539). At the beginning of the 17th century, French would see the continued unification of French, the suppression of certain forms, and the prescription of rules, leading to
Classical French French is a Romance language The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of the Italic l ...
.


Phonological History


Literature

Middle French is the language found in the writings of
Charles, Duke of Orléans Image:Towrlndn.JPG, A depiction of Charles' imprisonment in the Tower of London from an illuminated manuscript of his poems Charles of Orléans (24 November 1394 – 5 January 1465) was Duke of Orléans from 1407, following the murder of his fat ...
,
François Villon François Villon (pronounced in modern French; in fifteenth-century French, , c. 1431 – c. 1463) is the best known French poet of the Late Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period of European history las ...
,
Clément Marot Clément Marot (23 November 1496 – 12 September 1544) was a French Renaissance poet. Clément Marot. Biography Youth Marot was born at Cahors Cahors (; oc, Caors ) is a commune in the western part of Southern France. It is the smalle ...

Clément Marot
,
Rabelais
Rabelais
,
Montaigne 270px, The coat of arms of Michel Eyquem, Lord of Montaigne Michel Eyquem de Montaigne ( ; ; 28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592), also known as Lord of Montaigne, was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissanc ...

Montaigne
,
Ronsard Pierre de Ronsard (11 September 1524 – 27 December 1585) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, Répub ...

Ronsard
, and the poets of the Pléiade. The affirmation and glorification of French finds its greatest manifestation in the "Defense and Illustration of the French Language" (1549) by the poet
Joachim du Bellay Joachim du Bellay (also Joachim Du Bellay; ; c. 1522 – 1 January 1560) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: ...

Joachim du Bellay
, which maintained that French (like the Tuscan of
Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases ...

Petrarch
and
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to Mononymous person, simply as Dante (, also ; – 14 September 1321), was an Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Co ...

Dante
) was a worthy language for literary expression and which promulgated a program of linguistic production and purification (including the imitation of Latin genres).


Notes


References

* ''Larousse dictionnaire du moyen français.'' Paris: Larousse, 1992. * H. Bonnard. ''Notions de style, de versificiation et d'histoire de la langue française.'' Paris: SUDEL, 1953. * W. von Wartburg. ''Évolution et structure de la langue française.'' Berne (Switzerland): Francke A.G., 1946.


External links


Dictionnaire du Moyen Français
{{Authority control History of the French language French, 2 Languages attested from the 14th century