Old French
Overview
Old French was the Romance
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 dialect continuum
Dialect continuum
A dialect continuum, or dialect area, was defined by Leonard Bloomfield as a range of dialects spoken across some geographical area that differ only slightly between neighboring areas, but as one travels in any direction, these differences accumulate such that speakers from opposite ends of the...

 spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and parts of modern Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 from the 9th century to the 14th century. It was then known as the langue d'oïl
Langues d'oïl
The langues d'oïl or langues d'oui , in English the Oïl or Oui languages, are a dialect continuum that includes standard French and its closest autochthonous relatives spoken today in the northern half of France, southern Belgium, and the Channel Islands...

 (oïl language) to distinguish it from the langue d'oc (Occitan language, also then called Provençal), whose territory bordered that of Old French to the south.
Encyclopedia
Old French was the Romance
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 dialect continuum
Dialect continuum
A dialect continuum, or dialect area, was defined by Leonard Bloomfield as a range of dialects spoken across some geographical area that differ only slightly between neighboring areas, but as one travels in any direction, these differences accumulate such that speakers from opposite ends of the...

 spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and parts of modern Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 from the 9th century to the 14th century. It was then known as the langue d'oïl
Langues d'oïl
The langues d'oïl or langues d'oui , in English the Oïl or Oui languages, are a dialect continuum that includes standard French and its closest autochthonous relatives spoken today in the northern half of France, southern Belgium, and the Channel Islands...

 (oïl language) to distinguish it from the langue d'oc (Occitan language, also then called Provençal), whose territory bordered that of Old French to the south. The Norman dialect
Anglo-Norman language
Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....

 was also spread to England, Ireland
Norman Ireland
The History of Ireland 1169–1536 covers the period from the arrival of the Cambro-Normans to the reign of Henry VIII of England, who made himself King of Ireland. After the Norman invasion of 1171, Ireland was under an alternating level of control from Norman lords and the King of England...

, the Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

 and the Principality of Antioch
Principality of Antioch
The Principality of Antioch, including parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria, was one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade.-Foundation:...

 in the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

.

Grammar and phonology

Gaulish

Gaulish
Gaulish language
The Gaulish language is an extinct Celtic language that was spoken by the Gauls, a people who inhabited the region known as Gaul from the Iron Age through the Roman period...

, one of the survivors of the continental Celtic languages
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

 in Roman times, slowly became extinct during the long centuries of Roman dominion. Only several dozen words (perhaps 200) of Gaulish etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 survive in modern French, for example chêne, ‘oak tree’ and charrue ‘plough'; Delamarre (2003, pp. 389–90) lists 167. Due to the expansion of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 began to be spoken more often, explaining the limited influence and longevity of Gaulish.

Latin

Old French began when the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 conquered Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 during the campaigns of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

, which were almost complete by 51 BC. The Romans introduced Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 to southern France by 120 BC when it came under Roman occupation.

Beginning with Plautus
Plautus
Titus Maccius Plautus , commonly known as "Plautus", was a Roman playwright of the Old Latin period. His comedies are the earliest surviving intact works in Latin literature. He wrote Palliata comoedia, the genre devised by the innovator of Latin literature, Livius Andronicus...

's time (254–184 BC), the phonological structure of classical Latin
Classical Latin
Classical Latin in simplest terms is the socio-linguistic register of the Latin language regarded by the enfranchised and empowered populations of the late Roman republic and the Roman empire as good Latin. Most writers during this time made use of it...

 underwent change, which would eventually yield vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

, the common spoken language of the western Roman empire. This latter form differed strongly from its classical counterpart in phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

; it was the ancestor of the Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

, including Old French. Some Gaulish words influenced Vulgar Latin and, through this, other Romance languages. For example, classical Latin equus was replaced in common parlance by vulgar Latin caballus, derived from Gaulish caballos (Delamare 2003 p. 96), giving Modern French cheval, Catalan cavall, Occitan caval (chaval), Italian cavallo, Portuguese cavalo, Spanish caballo, Romanian cal, and (borrowed from Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman language
Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....

) English cavalry and chivalry.

Frankish

The Old Frankish
Old Frankish
Old Frankish is an extinct West Germanic language, once spoken by the Franks. It is the parent language of the Franconian languages, of which Dutch and Afrikaans are the most known descendants...

 language had a significant influence on the vocabulary
Vocabulary
A person's vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar to that person. A vocabulary usually develops with age, and serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge...

, syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

, and the pronunciation
Pronunciation
Pronunciation refers to the way a word or a language is spoken, or the manner in which someone utters a word. If one is said to have "correct pronunciation", then it refers to both within a particular dialect....

 of Old French after the conquest, by the Germanic tribe
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 of the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, of the portions of Roman Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 that are now France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 during the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

. The name français is derived from the name of this tribe. A number of other Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

, including the Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 and the Visigoths, were active in the territory at that time; the Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 spoken by the Franks, Burgundians, and others were not written languages, and at this remove it is often difficult to identify from which specific Germanic source a given Germanic word in French is derived. Philologists
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 such as Pope (1934) estimate that perhaps fifteen percent of the vocabulary of modern French derives from Germanic sources, including a large number of common words like haïr ‘to hate’, bateau ‘boat’, and hache ‘axe’. It has been suggested that the passé composé
Passé composé
Passé composé is the most commonly used past tense in the modern French language. It is used to express an action that has been completed at the time of speech, or at some time in the past...

and other compound verb
Compound verb
In linguistics, a compound verb or complex predicate is a multi-word compound that acts as a single verb. One component of the compound is a light verb or vector, which carries any inflections, indicating tense, mood, or aspect, but provides only fine shades of meaning...

s used in French conjugation
Grammatical conjugation
In linguistics, conjugation is the creation of derived forms of a verb from its principal parts by inflection . Conjugation may be affected by person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, voice, or other grammatical categories...

 are also the result of Germanic influences.

Other Germanic words in Old French appeared as a result of Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, i.e. Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

, settlements in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 during the 10th century. The settlers spoke Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 and their settlement was legitimised and made permanent in 911 under Rollo of Normandy
Rollo of Normandy
Rollo , baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse nobleman of Norwegian or Danish descent and founder and first ruler of the Viking principality in what soon became known as Normandy...

.

Earliest written Old French

At the third Council of Tours in 813, priests were ordered to preach in the vernacular language (either Romance or Germanic), since the common people could no longer understand formal Latin.

The earliest documents said to be written in French after the Reichenau and Kassel glosses (8th and 9th centuries) are the Oaths of Strasbourg
Oaths of Strasbourg
The Oaths of Strasbourg were several historical documents which included mutual pledges of allegiance between Louis the German , ruler of East Francia, and his brother Charles the Bald , ruler of West Francia...

 (treaties and charters into which King Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

 entered in 842):
The second-oldest document in Old French is the Eulalia sequence, which is important for linguistic reconstruction of Old French pronunciation due to its consistent spelling.

The royal House of Capet
House of Capet
The House of Capet, or The Direct Capetian Dynasty, , also called The House of France , or simply the Capets, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328, was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians. As rulers of France, the dynasty...

, founded by Hugh Capet in 987, inaugurated the development of northern French culture in and around Ile-de-France
Île-de-France (province)
The province of Île-de-France or Isle de France is an historical province of France, and the one at the centre of power during most of French history...

, which slowly but firmly asserted its ascendency over the more southerly areas of Aquitaine
Aquitaine
Aquitaine , archaic Guyenne/Guienne , is one of the 27 regions of France, in the south-western part of metropolitan France, along the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountain range on the border with Spain. It comprises the 5 departments of Dordogne, :Lot et Garonne, :Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes...

 and Tolosa (Toulouse
Toulouse
Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

). The Capetians
Capetian dynasty
The Capetian dynasty , also known as the House of France, is the largest and oldest European royal house, consisting of the descendants of King Hugh Capet of France in the male line. Hugh Capet himself was a cognatic descendant of the Carolingians and the Merovingians, earlier rulers of France...

' Langue d'oïl
Langues d'oïl
The langues d'oïl or langues d'oui , in English the Oïl or Oui languages, are a dialect continuum that includes standard French and its closest autochthonous relatives spoken today in the northern half of France, southern Belgium, and the Channel Islands...

, the forerunner of modern standard French, did not begin to become the common speech of all of France, however, until after the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

.

Phonology

Old French was constantly changing and evolving. However, the form in the late 12th century, as attested in a great deal of mostly poetic writings, can be considered standard. The writing system at this time was more phonetic than that used in most subsequent centuries. In particular, all written consonants (including final ones) were pronounced, except for s preceding non-stop consonant
Stop consonant
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or an oral stop, is a stop consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be done with the tongue , lips , and &...

s and t in et, and final e was pronounced ə. The phonological system can be summarised as follows:

Consonants

Old French consonants
Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Labio-
dental
Labiodental consonant
In phonetics, labiodentals are consonants articulated with the lower lip and the upper teeth.-Labiodental consonant in IPA:The labiodental consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Dental/
alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Postalveolar
Postalveolar consonant
Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge, further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate...

/
palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

     m      n      ɲ
Plosive p   b t   d k   ɡ
Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

f   v s   z (h)
Affricate
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

ts   dz tʃ   dʒ
Lateral
Lateral consonant
A lateral is an el-like consonant, in which airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth....

     lveolar lateral approximant      alatal lateral approximant
Trill
Trill consonant
In phonetics, a trill is a consonantal sound produced by vibrations between the articulator and the place of articulation. Standard Spanish <rr> as in perro is an alveolar trill, while in Parisian French it is almost always uvular....

r


Notes:
  • The affricates /ts/, /dz/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/ became fricatives ([s], [z], [ʃ], [ʒ]) in Middle French
    Middle French
    Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from 1340 to 1611. It is a period of transition during which:...

    . /ts/ was written as c, ç, -z, as in cent, chançon, priz ("a hundred, song, price"). /dz/ was written as -z-, as in doze "twelve".
  • /ʎ/ (l mouillé
    Mouille
    Mouillé is a term describing a palatal or palatalized consonant, particularly l or n.-Occurrence:L mouillé has a variety of origins in the Romance languages. In this table, letters that represent or used to represent palatal l are bolded...

    ), as in conseil, travaillier ("advice, to work"), became /j/ in Modern French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

    .
  • /ɲ/ appeared not only in the middle of a word, but also at the end, as in poing "hand". At the end of a word, /ɲ/ was later lost, leaving a nasalized vowel.
  • /h/ was found only in Germanic loanwords and was later lost. In native Latin words, /h/ was lost early on, as in om, uem, from Latin homō.

Vowels

In Old French, the nasal vowels were not separate phonemes, but occurred as allophones of the oral vowels before a nasal consonant. This nasal consonant was fully pronounced; thus bon was pronounced /bõn/ (Modern French [bɔ̃]). Nasal vowels were present even in open syllables before nasals, where Modern French has oral vowels, as in bone /bõnə/ (Modern French bonne [bɔn]).

Monophthongs

Old French vowels
  Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

 
Central
Central vowel
A central vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a central vowel is that the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel...

 
Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

oral i   y   u
nasal (ĩ)   (ỹ)  
Close-mid
Close-mid vowel
A close-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from a close vowel to a mid vowel...

oral e ə  
nasal (ẽ) | (õ)
Open-mid
Open-mid vowel
An open-mid vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of an open-mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned two-thirds of the way from an open vowel to a mid vowel...

ɛ   ɔ
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

oral a    
nasal (ã)


Notes:
  • /o/ had formerly existed, but closed to /u/; it would later appear again when /aw/ monophthongized, and also when /ɔ/ closed in certain positions (e.g. when followed by original /s/ or /z/, but not by /ts/, which later became /s/).

Diphthongs and triphthongs

Late Old French diphthongs and triphthongs
  IPA Example Meaning
f a l l i n g
Oral /aw/ chevaus  horse
/oj/ toit  roof
/ow/ coup  blow
/ew/ ~ /øw/ neveu  nephew
Nasal
Nasal vowel
A nasal vowel is a vowel that is produced with a lowering of the velum so that air escapes both through nose as well as the mouth. By contrast, oral vowels are ordinary vowels without this nasalisation...

/ẽj/ plein  full
/õj/ loing  far
r i s i n g
Oral /je/ pié  foot
/ɥi/ fruit  fruit
/we/ ~ /wø/ cuer  heart
Nasal
Nasal vowel
A nasal vowel is a vowel that is produced with a lowering of the velum so that air escapes both through nose as well as the mouth. By contrast, oral vowels are ordinary vowels without this nasalisation...

/jẽ/ bien  well
/ɥĩ/ juignet  July
/wẽ/ cuens  count (nom. sg.)
t r i p h t h o n g s
stress always falls on middle vowel
Oral /e̯aw/ beaus  beautiful
/jew/ dieu  god
/wew/ jueu  Jew


Notes:
  • In Early Old French (up to about the mid-12th century), the spelling ⟨ai⟩ represented a diphthong /aj/, instead of the later monophthong
    Monophthong
    A monophthong is a pure vowel sound, one whose articulation at both beginning and end is relatively fixed, and which does not glide up or down towards a new position of articulation....

     /ɛ/, and ⟨ei⟩ represented the diphthong /ej/, which became /oj/ in Late Old French.
  • In Early Old French the diphthongs described above as "rising" may have been falling diphthongs (/ie̯/, /yj/, /ue̯/). In earlier works with vowel assonance
    Assonance
    Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the is repeated within the sentence and is...

    , the diphthong written ⟨ie⟩ did not assonate with any pure vowels, suggesting that it cannot have simply been /je/.
  • The pronunciation of the vowels written ⟨ue⟩ and ⟨eu⟩ is debated. In very early Old French, they represented (and were written as) /uo/, /ou/, and by Middle French
    Middle French
    Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from 1340 to 1611. It is a period of transition during which:...

    , they had both merged as /ø ~ œ/, but it is unclear what the transitional pronunciations were.

Nouns

Old French maintained a two-case system, with a nominative case
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

 and an oblique case
Oblique case
An oblique case in linguistics is a noun case of synthetic languages that is used generally when a noun is the object of a verb or a preposition...

, for longer than did some other Romance languages (e.g. Spanish and Italian). Case distinctions, at least in the masculine gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

, were marked on both the definite article
Definite Article
Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzard's 1996 performance released on VHS. It was recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre...

 and on the noun itself. Thus, the masculine noun li voisins, "the neighbour" (Latin /wiˈkiːnus/ > Proto-Romance */veˈtsinu(s)/ > OF voisins /vojˈzĩns/; Modern French le voisin) was declined as follows:
Latin Old French
Singular Nominative li voisins
Oblique le voisin
Plural Nominative li voisin
Oblique les voisins


In later Old French, these distinctions became moribund. As in most other Romance languages, it was the oblique case form that usually survived to become the modern French form: l'enfant (the child) represents the old oblique; the OF nominative was li enfes. But in some cases where there were significant differences between nominative and oblique forms, the nominative form survives, or sometimes both forms survive with different meanings:
  • Both li sire (nominative, Latin ) and le seigneur (oblique, Latin ) survive in the vocabulary of later French as different ways to refer to a feudal lord
    Lord
    Lord is a title with various meanings. It can denote a prince or a feudal superior . The title today is mostly used in connection with the peerage of the United Kingdom or its predecessor countries, although some users of the title do not themselves hold peerages, and use it 'by courtesy'...

    .
  • Modern French sœur "sister" is the nominative form (OF suer < Latin nominative ); the OF oblique form seror (< Latin nominative ), no longer survives.
  • Modern French prêtre "priest" is the nominative form (OF prestre < ); the OF oblique form prevoire, later provoire (< ) survives only in the Paris street name Rue des Prouvaires.
  • Modern French indefinite pronoun on "one" continues OF nominative om "man" (< ); homme "man" continues the oblique form (OF ome < ).


In a few cases where the only distinction between forms was the nominative -s ending, the -s was preserved in spelling to distinguish otherwise homonymous words. An example is fils "son" (< Latin nominative ), spelled as such to distinguish it from fil "wire". In this case, a later spelling pronunciation
Spelling pronunciation
A spelling pronunciation is a pronunciation that, instead of reflecting the way the word was pronounced by previous generations of speakers, is a rendering in sound of the word's spelling.-Examples of English words with common spelling pronunciations:...

 has resulted in the modern pronunciation /fis/ (earlier /fi/).

As in Spanish and Italian, the neuter gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 was eliminated, and old neuter nouns became masculine. Some Latin neuter plurals were re-analysed as feminine singulars, though; for example, Latin was more widely used in the plural form , which was taken for a singular in Vulgar Latin, and ultimately led to modern French la joie, "joy" (feminine singular).

Nouns were declined in the following declensions:
Class I (feminine) Class II (masculine)
Class I normal Class Ia Class I normal Class IIa
meaning "woman" "thing" "city" "neighbor" "servant" "father"
sg. nominative la fame la riens la citéz li voisins li sergenz li pere
oblique la rien la cité le voisin le sergent le pere
pl. nominative les fames les riens les citéz li voisin li sergent li pere
oblique les voisins les sergenz les peres

Class III (both)
Class IIIa Class IIIb Class IIIc Class IIId
meaning "singer" "baron" "nun" "sister" "child" "priest" "lord" "count"
sg. nominative li chantere li ber la none la suer li enfes li prestre li sire li cuens
oblique le chanteor le baron la nonain la seror l'enfant le prevoire le seigneur le conte
pl. nominative li chanteor li baron les nones les serors li enfant li prevoire li seigneur li conte
oblique les chanteors les barons les nonains les serors les enfanz les prevoires les seigneurs les contes


Class I is derived from the Latin first declension. Class Ia mostly comes from feminine third-declension nouns in Latin. Class II is derived from the Latin second declension. Class IIa generally stems from second-declension nouns ending in and from third-declension masculine nouns; note that in both cases, the Latin nominative singular did not end in , and this is preserved in Old French.

Those classes show various analogical developments, like -es from the accusative instead of (-e after a consonant cluster) in Class I nominative plural (Latin ), li pere instead of *li peres (Latin illi patres) in Class IIa nominative plural, modelled on Class II, etc.

Class III nouns show a separate form in the nominative singular that does not occur in any of the other forms. IIIa nouns ended in , in Latin, and preserve the stress shift; IIIb nouns likewise had a stress shift from to . IIIc nouns are an Old French creation and have no clear Latin antecedent. IIId nouns represent various other types of third-declension Latin nouns with stress shift or irregular masculine singular .

Regular feminine forms of masculine nouns are formed by adding an 'e' to the masculine stem, apart from when the masculine stem already ends in e. For example bergier (shepherd) becomes bergiere (Modern French berger and bergère).

Adjectives

Adjectives agree in terms of number
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

, gender and case with the noun they are qualifying. Thus a feminine plural noun in the nominative case requires any qualifying adjectives to be feminine, plural and in the nominative case. For example, in femes riches, riche has to be in the feminine plural form.

Adjectives can be divided into three declensional classes:
  • Class I corresponding roughly to Latin 1st and 2nd declension adjectives
  • Class II corresponding roughly to Latin 3rd declension adjectives
  • Class III containing primarily the descendants of Latin synthetic comparative forms in -ior, -iōrem.


Class I adjectives have a feminine singular form (nominative and oblique) ending in -e. This class can be further subdivided into two subclasses based on the masculine nominative singular form. Class Ia adjectives have a masculine nominative singular ending in -s:
E.g. bon "good" (< Latin bonus, > modern French bon)
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular
Nominative bons bon bone bones bon
Oblique bon bons

For Class Ib adjectives, the masculine nominative singular ends in -e, like the feminine. This subclass contains descendants of Latin 2nd and 3rd declension adjectives ending in -er in the nominative singular.
E.g. aspre "harsh" (< Latin asper, > modern French âpre)
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular
Nominative aspre aspre aspre aspres aspre
Oblique aspres


For Class II adjectives, the feminine singular is not marked by the ending -e.
E.g. granz "big, great" (< Latin grandis, > modern French grand)
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular
Nominative granz grant granz/grant granz grant
Oblique grant granz grant

An important subgroup of Class II adjectives are the present participial forms in -ant.

Class III adjectives exhibit stem alternation resulting from stress shift in the Latin imparisyllabic declension, and a distinct neuter form:
E.g. mieudre "better" (< Latin melior, > modern French meilleur)
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular
Nominative mieudre(s) meillor mieudre meillors mieuz
Oblique meillor meillors meillor

Verbs

Verbs in Old French show the same extreme phonological deformations as other Old French words. Morphologically, however, Old French verbs are extremely conservative, preserving intact most of the Latin alternations and irregularities that had been inherited in Proto-Romance. Old French has much less analogical reformation than in Modern French, and significantly less than the oldest stages of other languages (e.g. Old Spanish), despite the fact that the various phonological developments in Gallo-Romance and Proto-French led to complex alternations in the majority of commonly-used verbs.

For example, the Old French verb laver "to wash" is conjugated je lef, tu leves, il leve in the present indicative
Present Indicative
Present Indicative is a 1972 Hungarian drama film directed by Péter Bacsó. The film was selected as the Hungarian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 45th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.-Cast:...

 and je lef, tu les, il let in the present subjunctive, in both cases regular phonological developments from Latin indicative and subjunctive . This paradigm is typical in showing the phonologically regular but morphologically irregular alternations of most paradigms:
  • The alternation je lef ~ tu leves is a regular result of final devoicing, triggered by loss of final /o/ but not /a/.
  • The alternation laver ~ tu leves is a regular result of the diphthongization of stressed (but not unstressed) open syllable /a/ into /ae/ > /æ/ > /e/.
  • The alternation je lef ~ tu les ~ il let in the subjunctive is a regular result of the simplification of the final clusters /fs/,/ft/ resulting from loss of /e/ in final syllables.

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, where the -e is regular); and wholesale replacement of the subjunctive with forms modeled on -ir/-oir/-re verbs. All of these serve to eliminate the various alternations in the Old French verb paradigm. Even modern "irregular" verbs are not immune from analogy: For example, Old French je vif, tu vis, il vit (vivre "to live") has yielded to modern je vis, tu vis, il vit, eliminating the "unpredictable" -f in the first-person singular.

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

The Latin pluperfect was preserved in very early Old French as a past tense with a value similar to a preterite
Preterite
The preterite is the grammatical tense expressing actions that took place or were completed in the past...

 or imperfect. For example, the Sequence of Saint Eulalia
Sequence of Saint Eulalia
The Sequence of Saint Eulalia is the earliest surviving piece of French hagiography and one of the earliest extant vernacular writings, dating from around 880...

 (878 AD) has past-tense forms such as avret (< Latin ), voldret (< Latin ), alternating with past-tense forms from the Latin perfect (continued as the modern "simple past"). Old Occitan also preserved this tense, with a conditional
Conditional mood
In linguistics, the conditional mood is the inflectional form of the verb used in the independent clause of a conditional sentence to refer to a hypothetical state of affairs, or an uncertain event, that is contingent on another set of circumstances...

 value; Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 still preserves this tense (the -ra imperfect subjunctive), as does Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 (in its original value as a pluperfect indicative).

Verb alternations

In Latin, stress was determined automatically by the number of syllables in a word and the weight
Syllable weight
In linguistics, syllable weight is the concept that syllables pattern together according to the number and/or duration of segments in the rime. In classical poetry, both Greek and Latin, distinctions of syllable weight were fundamental to the meter of the line....

 (length) of those syllables. This resulted in certain automatic stress shifts between related forms in a paradigm, depending on the nature of the suffixes added. For example, in "I think", the first syllable was stressed, while in "we think", the second syllable was stressed. In many Romance languages, vowels diphthongized in stressed syllables under certain circumstances, but not in unstressed syllables, resulting in alternations in verb paradigms: e.g. Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 pienso "I think" vs. pensamos "we think" (pensar "to think"), or cuento "I tell" vs. contamos "we tell" (contar "to tell").

In the development of French, no fewer than five vowels diphthongized in stressed, open syllables. Combined with other stress-dependent developments, this yielded 15 or so types of alternations in so-called strong verbs
Irregular verb
In contrast to regular verbs, irregular verbs are those verbs that fall outside the standard patterns of conjugation in the languages in which they occur. The idea of an irregular verb is important in second language acquisition, where the verb paradigms of a foreign language are learned...

 in Old French. For example, /a/ diphthongized to /ai/ before nasal consonant
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

s in stressed, open syllables, but not in unstressed syllables, yielding aim "I love" (Latin ) but amons "we love" (Latin ).

The different types are as follows:
Vowel alternations in Old French verbs
Vowel alternation |Environment |Example (-er conjugation) |Example (other conjugation)
Stressed Unstressed Latin etymon 3rd singular
pres. ind.
Infinitive meaning Latin etymon 3rd singular
pres. ind.
Infinitive
/ Other Form
meaning
/e/ /a/ free /a/ leve laver "to wash" >
pert parir "to give birth"
/ãj̃/ /ã/ free /a/ + nasal aime amer "to love" maint manoir "to remain"
/je/ /e/ palatal + free /a/ achieve achever "to achieve"
/i/ /e/ palatal + /a/ + palatal conchie concheer "to shit out?" gist gesir "to lie (down)"
/a/ /e/ palatal + blocked /a/ achate acheter "to buy" >
chiet cheoir "to fall"
/a/ /e/ intertonic /a/ + palatal? travaille traveillier "to work"
/je/ /e/ free /ɛ/ lieve lever "to raise" siet seoir "to sit"
/jẽ/ /ẽ/ free /ɛ/ + nasal crient cremant "to fear"
/i/ /oj/ /ɛ/ + palatal prise proisier "to value" ist oissir "to go out"
/ɛ/ /e/ intertonic /ɛ,e/ + double cons. apele apeler "to call"
/oj/ /e/ free /e/ >
adoise adeser "to touch"
/ẽj̃/ /ẽ/ free /e/ + nasal meine mener "to lead"
/i/ /e/ palatal + free /e/
/oj/ /i/ intertonic /e/ + palatal charroie charrier "?"
/we/ /u/ free /ɔ/ trueve trouver "to find" >
muert mourir "to die"
/uj/ /oj/ /ɔ/ + palatal apuie apoiier "to lean"
/ew/ /u/ free /o/ demeure demourer "to stay" >
queust cousdre "to sew"
/u/ /e/ intertonic blocked /o/ courouce courecier "to get angry"
/ũ/ /ã/ intertonic blocked /o/ + nasal chalonge chalengier "to challenge"


In Modern French the verbs in the -er class have been systematically leveled. Generally the "weak" (unstressed) form predominates, but there are some exceptions (e.g. modern aimer/nous aimons). The only remaining alternations are in verbs like acheter/j'achète and jeter/je jette, where unstressed /ǝ/ alternates with stressed /ɛ/, and in (largely learned) verbs like adhérer/j'adhère, where unstressed /e/ alternates with stressed /ɛ/. Many of the non-er verbs have become obsolete and many of the remaining verbs have been leveled. A few alternations remain, however, in what are now known as irregular verbs, such as je tiens, nous tenons or je meurs, nous mourons.

Some verbs had a more irregular alternation between different-length stems, with a longer stressed stem alternating with a shorter unstressed stem. This was a regular development stemming from the loss of unstressed intertonic vowels, which remained when stressed:
  • j'aiu/aidier "help" <
  • j'araison/araisnier "speak to" <
  • je deraison/deraisnier "argue" <
  • je desjun/disner "dine" <
  • je manju/mangier "eat" <
  • je parol/parler "speak" <


The alternation of je desjun, disner is particularly complicated; it appears that > Western Romance /desjejuˈnare > /desjejˈnare/ (preliminary intertonic loss) > /desiˈnare/ (triphthong reduction) > /disiˈnare/ (metaphony) > /disˈner/ (further intertonic loss and other proto-French developments). Note the both of the stems have become full verbs in modern French, déjeuner "to have lunch" and dîner "to dine". Furthermore, déjeuner does not derive directly from je desjun (< with total loss of unstressed ). Instead, it comes from Old French , based on the alternative form je desjeün (< with loss only of , likely influenced by jeûner "to fast" < Old French jeüner < je jeün "I fast" < , where is an initial rather than intertonic syllable and hence the vowel cannot disappear).

Example of a regular -er verb

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present

Present
je dur durai duroie durerai dur durasse dureroie
tu dures duras durois dureras durs durasses durerois dure
il dure dura duroit durera durt durast dureroit
nous durons durames duriiens/-ïons durerons durons durissons/-issiens dureriions/-ïons durons
vous durez durastes duriiez dureroiz/-ez durez durissoiz/-issez/-issiez dureriiez/-ïez durez
ils durent durerent duroient dureront durent durassent dureroient


Non-finite forms:
  • Infinitive: durer
  • Present participle: durant
  • Past Participle: duré


Auxiliary verb: avoir

Example of a regular -ir verb

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present

Present
je fenis feni fenissoie fenirai fenisse fenisse feniroie
tu fenis fenis fenissoies feniras fenisses fenisses fenirois fenis
il fenist feni(t) fenissoit fenira fenisse(t) fenist feniroit
nous fenissons fenimes fenissiiens fenirons fenissons feniss-ons/-iens feniriiens fenissons
vous fenissez fenistes fenissiiez fenir-oiz/-ez fenissez feniss-oiz/-ez/-iez feniriiez fenissez
ils fenissent fenirent fenissoient feniront fenissent fenissent feniroient


Non-finite forms:
  • Infinitive: fenir
  • Present participle: fenissant
  • Past Participle: feni(t)


Auxiliary verb: avoir

Example of a regular -re verb

 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present

Present
je cor corui coroie corrai core corusse corroie
tu cors corus coroies corras cores corusses corroies cor
il cort coru(t) coroit corra core(t) corust corroit
nous corons corumes coriiens corrons corons coruss-ons/-iens corriiens corons
vous corez corustes coriiez corr-oiz/-ez corez coruss-oiz/-ez/-iez corriiez corez
ils corent corurent coroient corront corent corussent corroient


Non-finite forms:
  • Infinitive: corre
  • Present participle: corant
  • Past Participle: coru(t)


Auxiliary verb: estre
avoir (to have)
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present

Present
je ai eus avoie aurai ai eusse auroie
tu ais (later as) eus avois auras ais eusses aurois ave
il ai (later a) eut avoit aura ai eusst auroit
nous avons eumes aviens/-ïons aurons aions eussons/-issiens auravons/-ïons avons
vous avez eustes aviez auroiz/-ez aiez eussoiz/-issez/-issiez auravez/-ïez avez
ils ont eurent avoient auront ont eussent auroient


Non-finite forms:
  • Infinitive: avoir (earlier aveir)
  • Present participle: aiant
  • Past Participle: eut


Auxiliary verb: avoir
estre (to be)
 
Indicative Subjunctive Conditional Imperative
Present Simple Past Imperfect Future Present Imperfect Present

Present
je suis fui (i)ere ; esteie > estoie (i)er; serai; estrai seie > soie fusse soi sereie > seroie; estreie > estroie
tu es, ies fus (i)eres ; esteies > estoies (i)ers; seras; estras seies > soies fusses sereies > seroies; estreies > estroies seies > soies
il est fu(t) (i)ere(t), (i)ert ; esteit > estoit (i)ert; sera(t); estra(t) seit > soit fust sereit > seroit; estreit > estroit
nous somes, esmes fumes eriiens, erions ; estiiens, estions (i)ermes; serons; estrons seiiens, seions > soiiens, soions fuss-ons/-iens seriiens, serions; estriiens, estrions seiiens > soiiens, seions > soions
vous estes fustes eriiez ; estiiez --; sere(i)z; estre(i)z seiiez > soiiez fuss-eiz/-ez/-iez seriiez; estriiez seiiez > soiiez
ils sont furent (i)erent ; esteient > estoient (i)erent; seront; estront seient > soient fussent sereient > seroient; estreient > estroient


Non-finite forms:
  • Infinitive: estre
  • Present participle: estant
  • Past Participle: esté(t)


auxiliary verb: avoir

Other parts of speech

Adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections are generally invariable. One notable exception being the adverb tot (same as modern French tout; all, every).

Dialects

Since Old French did not consist of a single standard, competing administrative varieties were propagated by the provincial courts and chanceries.

The French of Paris was one of a number of standards, including:
  • the Burgundian
    Burgundian language (Oïl)
    The Burgundian language, also known by French names Bourguignon-morvandiau, Bourguignon, and Morvandiau, is an Oïl language spoken in Burgundy and particularly in the Morvan area of the region....

     of Burgundy
    Duchy of Burgundy
    The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

    , then an independent duchy
    Duchy
    A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess.Some duchies were sovereign in areas that would become unified realms only during the Modern era . In contrast, others were subordinate districts of those kingdoms that unified either partially or completely during the Medieval era...

     whose capital was at Dijon
    Dijon
    Dijon is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and of the Burgundy region.Dijon is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population : 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 for the greater Dijon area....

    ;
  • the Picard language
    Picard language
    Picard is a language closely related to French, and as such is one of the larger group of Romance languages. It is spoken in two regions in the far north of France – Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy – and in parts of the Belgian region of Wallonia, the district of Tournai and a part of...

     of Picardy
    Picardy
    This article is about the historical French province. For other uses, see Picardy .Picardy is a historical province of France, in the north of France...

    , whose principal cities were Calais
    Calais
    Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

     and Lille
    Lille
    Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

    . It was said that the Picard language began at the east door of Notre-Dame de Paris, so far-reaching was its influence;
  • Old Norman
    Old Norman
    Old Norman, also called Old Northern French or Old Norman French, was one of many langues d'oïl dialects. It was spoken throughout the region of what is now called Normandy and spread into England, Southern Italy, Sicily, and the Levant. It is the ancestor of modern Norman, including the insular...

    , spoken in Normandy
    Normandy
    Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

    , whose principal cities were Caen
    Caen
    Caen is a commune in northwestern France. It is the prefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. It is located inland from the English Channel....

     and Rouen
    Rouen
    Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

    . The Norman conquest of England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

     brought many Norman-speaking aristocrats into the British Isles. Most of the older Norman (sometimes called "French") words in the English language
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

     reflect the influence of this variety of Oïl language which became a conduit for the introduction into the Anglo-Norman realm, as did Anglo-Norman control of Anjou and Gascony and other continental possessions. The Anglo-Norman language
    Anglo-Norman language
    Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....

     reflected a shared culture on both sides of the English Channel
    English Channel
    The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

    . Ultimately, this language declined and fell, becoming Law French
    Law French
    Law French is an archaic language originally based on Old Norman and Anglo-Norman, but increasingly influenced by Parisian French and, later, English. It was used in the law courts of England, beginning with the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror...

    , a jargon
    Jargon
    Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, group, or event. The philosophe Condillac observed in 1782 that "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he...

     spoken by lawyers, which was used in English law
    Law
    Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

     until the reign of Charles II
    Charles II of England
    Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

    . Norman
    Norman language
    Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

    , however, still survives in Normandy and the Channel Islands as a regional language;
  • the Walloon language
    Walloon language
    Walloon is a Romance language which was spoken as a primary language in large portions of the Walloon Region of Belgium and some villages of Northern France until the middle of the 20th century. It belongs to the langue d'oïl language family, whose most prominent member is the French language...

    , centered around Namur
    Namur (city)
    Namur is a city and municipality in Wallonia, in southern Belgium. It is both the capital of the province of Namur and of Wallonia....

     in present-day Wallonia;
  • the Gallo language
    Gallo language
    Gallo is a regional language of France. Gallo is a Romance language, one of the Oïl languages. It is the historic language of the region of Upper Brittany and some neighboring portions of Normandy, but today is spoken by only a small minority of the population, having been largely superseded by...

     of Brittany
    Brittany
    Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

    , the Romance language of the Duchy of Brittany;
  • the Lorrain
    Lorrain language
    Lorrain is a language spoken by a minority of people in Lorraine in France and in Gaume in Belgium. It is one of the Langues d'oïl. It is classified as a regional language of France, and has the recognised status of a regional language of Wallonia...

    , the Romance language of the Duchy of Lorraine.

Derived languages

This Oïl language is the ancestor of several languages spoken today, including:
  • Berrichon
    Berrichon
    Berrichon is a French dialect spoken in the French province of Berry. The word is also used as a demonym and as an adjective meaning "pertaining to Berry"....

  • Bourguignon-Morvandiau
    Burgundian language (Oïl)
    The Burgundian language, also known by French names Bourguignon-morvandiau, Bourguignon, and Morvandiau, is an Oïl language spoken in Burgundy and particularly in the Morvan area of the region....

  • Champenois
    Champenois
    Champenois is a language spoken by a minority of people in Champagne in France and in Wallonia in Belgium. It is one of the langues d'oïl. It is classified as a regional language of France, and has the recognized status of a regional language of Wallonia....

  • Franc-Comtois
  • French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

    • French-based creole languages
      French-based creole languages
      A French Creole, or French-based Creole language, is a creole language based on the French language, more specifically on a 17th century koiné French extant in Paris, the French Atlantic harbors, and the nascent French colonies...

    • Acadian French
      Acadian French
      Acadian French , is a regionalized dialect of Canadian French. It is spoken by the francophone population of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, by small minorities in areas in the Gaspé region of eastern Quebec, by small groups of francophones in Prince Edward Island, in several tiny pockets...

    • Belgian French
      Belgian French
      Belgian French is the variety of French spoken mainly in the French Community of Belgium, alongside related minority regional languages such as Walloon, Picard, Champenois and Gaumais. The French spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi, which were formerly Belgian...

    • Cajun French
      Cajun French
      Cajun French is a variety or dialects of the French language spoken primarily in Louisiana, specifically in the southern and southwestern parishes....

    • Metropolitan French
      French language
      French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

       (Metropolitan France
      Metropolitan France
      Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

      )
    • Quebec French
      Quebec French
      Quebec French , or Québécois French, is the predominant variety of the French language in Canada, in its formal and informal registers. Quebec French is used in everyday communication, as well as in education, the media, and government....

    • Swiss French
      Swiss French
      Swiss French is the name used for the variety of French spoken in the French-speaking area of Switzerland known as Romandy. Swiss French is not to be confused with Franco-Provençal/Arpitan or Romansh, two other individual Romance languages spoken in areas not far from Romandy.The differences...

  • Gallo language
    Gallo language
    Gallo is a regional language of France. Gallo is a Romance language, one of the Oïl languages. It is the historic language of the region of Upper Brittany and some neighboring portions of Normandy, but today is spoken by only a small minority of the population, having been largely superseded by...

  • Lorrain
    Lorrain language
    Lorrain is a language spoken by a minority of people in Lorraine in France and in Gaume in Belgium. It is one of the Langues d'oïl. It is classified as a regional language of France, and has the recognised status of a regional language of Wallonia...

  • Norman
    Norman language
    Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

    • Dgèrnésiais
      Dgèrnésiais
      Guernésiais, also known as Dgèrnésiais, Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the Norman language spoken in Guernsey. It is sometimes known on the island by the semi-disparaging name "patois"...

    • Jèrriais
      Jèrriais
      Jèrriais is the form of the Norman language spoken in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, off the coast of France. It has been in decline over the past century as English has increasingly become the language of education, commerce and administration...

  • Picard
    Picard language
    Picard is a language closely related to French, and as such is one of the larger group of Romance languages. It is spoken in two regions in the far north of France – Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy – and in parts of the Belgian region of Wallonia, the district of Tournai and a part of...

  • Poitevin
    Poitevin language
    Poitevin is a language spoken by the people in Poitou. It is one of the regional languages of France. It is now classified as one of the langues d'oïl but is distinguished by certain features of the langue d'oc...

  • Saintongeais
    Saintongeais
    Saintongeais is a dialect spoken halfway down the western coast of France in the former provinces of Saintonge, Aunis and Angoumois, all of which have been incorporated into the current départements of Charente and Charente-Maritime as well as in parts of their neighbouring départements of...

  • Walloon
    Walloon language
    Walloon is a Romance language which was spoken as a primary language in large portions of the Walloon Region of Belgium and some villages of Northern France until the middle of the 20th century. It belongs to the langue d'oïl language family, whose most prominent member is the French language...


See also

  • History of French
    History of French
    French is a Romance language that evolved out of the Gallo-Romance dialects spoken in northern France....

  • Languages of France
  • Anglo-Norman literature
    Anglo-Norman literature
    Anglo-Norman literature is literature composed in the Anglo-Norman language developed during the period 1066–1204 when the Duchy of Normandy and England were united in the Anglo-Norman realm.-Introduction:...

  • History of the English language
    History of the English language
    English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic invaders from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Netherlands. Initially, Old English was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the...

  • Bartsch's law

External links

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