The French Dialects 1

The French Dialects Part I


The complexity and precision of the syntactic norm based on an agile and varied phonetic system and morphological system applied to a very rich vocabulary make French the first and one can say the only literary language of today’s France. As in the Middle Ages, in the southern part of ancient Gaul, the language that is usually called Provençal (v.) Had prevailed over the southern dialects, so, although for somewhat different reasons, French subsequently took over the dialects northerners and then on the southerners and on the so-called Franco-Provençal ones (see), finally reducing them all to the state of vernaculars. We will limit ourselves here to giving an overview of the main dialects of the northern type.

In the north-west, around Caen and Rouen, the Norman is the one whose literary development has had the greatest importance. There was a Norman literature before there was a real French literature. Following the conquest of England (1066), the Anglo – Norman flourished on the island for about two centuries. The ancient Norman texts are characterized, as regards the phonetics, first of all by a certain archaism in the diphthongization of free tonic vowels: the Latin  is represented by ei, not by oi, and was later reduced to e (eg. reiking); the Latin  there is represented by o, often written u, in place of oueu (eg florflur); a often becomes ie (eg trinitietraachatierre); and here too we can deal with an archaism if we admit that Br. and from a Latin goes back to an ancient diphthong. The nasal vowels ã and æ remain distinct, and assonances of the gent type: tant are originally unknown to you; conversely ain and ein they tend to get confused, chaeine rhymes with semaine ; an at the end of a syllable gives aun (eg graunt), which often ends in on (gront); the unstressed e in hiatus falls in time: al (eurese (ust. The consonants, c and g remain velar in front of a (canter da cantaregoie da gaudia) and the hsome Germanic words still persist today in the north (hachehéron). We note, in the verbal morphology, the i and pers. plur. in – om, – on (- um, – a) instead of in – ons (poumdisom), and the imperfect ones in – oe, – oue instead of in – oie – eve ; in the declension, the ancient use of the accusative instead of the nominative.

According to oxfordastronomy, these characteristics are all found in the Anglo-Norman; furthermore we find and in place of ie ; u (derived from Latin u) which is confused with o or with ui (we see plus rimare con vertuuspertuis with sus); ei, which is confused with ai (palaisrhymes with -eis); and final unstressed which becomes i before s (chosis) or the 3rd pers. plural (avindrint). The consonants ł and ñ are often confused with l and n (viel “old”, feinnent “pretend”); s in front of nl takes an interdental stamp represented by the spelling d (adnes “asses”). For the morphology, we observe the indefinite article lului, some perfect in -s (vistoïst). The pron. you can hold a 2nd pers. plur. (tu faistes); the imperfect can be used as perfect (robbèrent et ardoient); the auxiliary avoir can be combined with pronominal verbs (s’en ad irée).

Several of these traits reappear in the dialects of the north-east, in the Picardy (Amiens, Arras) and in the Walloon (Liège), among other things the treatment of ca – ga – Latin and the distinction of ã æ originarî (except, it seems, in front of msamble). The Picard also has a strong tendency to reduce by assimilation of vocal groups: well – IEE (from – iatam) becomes – ie (baisie from basiatam) – ieu (from – ú u -) becomes iu (diu from d ĕ um); but vice versa secondary iu becomes ieusoutieurs “subtle”. Similarly, ę (and partially  followed by [ l ] plus consonant) give iau (biaus from b ĕ lluschiaus from exception ĭ llos); while q differs in a in front of l velar (saus from s ŏ l ĭ dos). In the consonant groups n’rm’rl’r, there is no epentesis as in French (viendrasemblerpiudre): Picard preserves the consonants intact or assimilates them (venrasanlerpourre). The ts is reduced to s since the earliest texts (venès), sy becomes ž (but ž õ from mansionem), the final ł is depalatalized (solel). The article femm. and usually le, generalization of (illam in intertonic position (gives le femme); sometimes also li (from nom. * ill ī, arisen from illa by the influence of qu ī). The conjugation – ir is favored at the expense of that in – oir (CAIRSirveir); the perfect ones prevail in – i (je vengi); the 3rd pers. plur. of perfect strong in – s comes out in – isent (disentfisent, non distrentfistrent). The adjective, even in color, tends, due to Germanic influence, to precede the noun.

Several of these features are found in the valley: in the valley is also the dittongamento in and dell ‘ in the final toned syllable (bonteipartei) and dell’ ÿ being syllable (tierreconnecting rodspierd), maintaining the w – initial Germanic (ouarderouarnit) and w Latin in the group qu (kw ā by whenkweri from xquerire). The feminine pronoun she keeps the diphthong (while the French ant. has li). Note imperfect in – ev (and) to – bedside (the cantef), weak in some perfect – i (you dewis from debuisti) and the causal subordinating plamon “because” (as per [ the ] lum amorem).

The French Dialects 1