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By Peter Rickard

This well-established and renowned publication presents scholars with the entire linguistic heritage they want for learning any interval of French literature. For the second one version the textual content has been revised and up-to-date all through, and the 2 ultimate chapters on modern French, and its place as a global language, were thoroughly rewritten. beginning with a short description of the Vulgar Latin spoken in Gaul, and the earliest recorded types of French, Peter Rickard strains the improvement of the language in the course of the later center a long time and Renaissance to teach the way it grew to become standardized in a close to smooth shape within the 17th and eighteenth centuries.

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The one is more archaic than the other, and there are Norman features in both, but neither is consistently written in a Norman dialect. In so far as the language is not Norman, and in so far as the language of the earlier text is not Picard-Walloon, what are we to call it? What do the complex linguistic facts suggest? It is not too soon to ask these questions, but a little premature to attempt an answer to them until we have seen more evidence, of a kind to be found in the next chapter. In the meantime, we may also note the clear emergence, in the south, of Occitan texts which pose the same sort of problem for the south as the texts we have just been considering pose for the north— the problem of variety versus common features.

Yet the reflexes of capum constitute an extreme case, and behind the vagaries of southern scribes we can discern important features which confirm and are confirmed by those early texts which were not copied by southern scribes, and even more by later texts, when evidence becomes more plentiful. 1 With that exception, however, the ninth and tenth century texts suggest as their place of composition the north-east of France, the Picard-Walloon area, close to the linguistic frontier between ‘Romania’ and ‘Germania’.

Even the Arthurian romances of the matière de Bretagne, as it was called, were carefully related to a king whose historicity was not in doubt. The same verse form was also used for didactic and moralising works, for shorter 1. In a work of high seriousness, the Vie de Saint Thomas Becket (1174), the author Garnier de Pont-Sainte-Maxence declares ‘never was so good a roman made or composed…. There is not a word in it that is not the truth’ (ed. Walberg, ll. 6161– 3). Exceptionally, this particular roman is in 12-syllable lines.

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A History of the French Language by Peter Rickard

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