French Language: How Many Forms Of French Are There In History?

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Written by: Phương Thảo + Minh Châu

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS | FRENCH

To learn more about romantic France, the language should not be overlooked; over hundreds of years of history, French has changed to become what it is today. Let us also go over the earlier versions of this language!

french language history

1. Vulgar Latin In Gallia

The native Celts Gaul shaped the evolution of Latin in Gaul over half a millennium. The final linguistic transition from Gaul to colloquial Latin occurred among the rural and lower-class populations, when both they and the Frankish ruling class/army adopted colloquial Gaul-Roman Latin. 

Despite being heavily Romanized, Gaul may have survived in France until the 6th century. 

Gaul helped shape the colloquial Latin dialects that later evolved into French, including loanwords and transcriptions, phonological changes influenced by Gaul, and Gaul-influenced verb conjugation and sentence order, while coexisting with Latin. 

According to recent research, the initial change in grammatical resemblance may have been influenced by the grammatical resemblance of the corresponding words in Gaul.

2. Old French

German invasions influenced the beginnings of French in Gaul, which had a significant impact on the northern part of France and the language there.

Language schisms began to emerge across the country. Northerners use the term langue d’ol, while southerners use langue d’oc. Langue d’ol would eventually evolve into Old French. Old French, along with Old Occitan, retained a relic of Latin’s old nominal case system longer than most other Romance languages (with the notable exception of Romanian, which still has a case distinction), distinguishing between an oblique case and a nominative case.

The earliest evidence of what became Old French can be seen in the Oaths of Strasbourg and the Sequence of Saint Eulalia, while Old French literature began to be produced in the eleventh century, with major early works often focusing on the lives of saints (such as the Vie de Saint Alexis), or wars and royal courts, notably including the Chanson de Roland, epic cycles focused on King Arthur and his court, as well as a cycle focused on William of Orange.

3. Middle French

Medieval France was a tumultuous place with kingdoms and dukes appearing and disappearing in waves of war.

For example, the regions of Burgundy, Provence and Brittany all had different periods of independence and autonomy. Ultimately, Paris will dominate these regions through political maneuvers, family ties, and war.

As the French Monarchy grew and began to consolidate its control over all of France, one of the avenues of cultural domination it took was to codify the official language of the Empire. The legal reform was enacted in 1539 and became known as the Edict of Villers-Cotterêts. The Francien Edict was established and it was the sole language of the Empire. Other dialects and languages ​​are not recommended.

Over the past few centuries, many initiatives have been taken in France to eliminate the various local dialects. In 1635, the French Academy was founded to strengthen the position of the language, and experiencing interruptions during revolutions, Napoleon later reinstated it. To this day, the French Academy is still responsible for publishing the official French Dictionary.

4. Modern French

French replaced Latin as the most important language of diplomacy and international relations during the seventeenth century (lingua franca). It held this position until the mid-twentieth century, when it was supplanted by English as the United States emerged as the dominant global power following World War II.

According to Stanley Meisler of the Los Angeles Times, signing the Treaty of Versailles in both English and French was the “first diplomatic blow” to the language.

The 18th and 19th centuries were the golden age of the French language because most of the nobles and royals in Europe could speak French, the main language in the fields of literature and art. is French; until the mid-20th century French remained the official language of diplomacy.

The French language has had an amazing transition over the past thousand and five hundred years from a primitive dialect of a dying empire to one of the most prominent languages ​​on the planet. At the beginning of the 21st century, there were nearly 30 countries with French as an official language. The story of the French language spans centuries and across continents, and the aspects that make it unique are hard to summarize in one article.

 

Conclusion

French is a fascinating language that has grown so much over the past centuries to become the romantic and beautiful one we know today.

Feel free to share in the comment section your thoughts and opinions.

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