This new history of the French language allows the reader to see how the language has evolved for themselves. It combines texts and extracts with a readable and detailed commentary allowing the language to be viewed both synchronically and diachronically. Core texts range from the ninth century to the present day highlight central features of the language, whilst a range of shorter texts illustrate particular points. The inclusion of non-literary, as well as literary texts serves to illustrate some of the many varieties of French whether in legal, scientific, epistolatory, administrative or liturgical or in more popular domains, including attempts to represent spoken usage. This is essential reading for the undergraduate student of French.
This well-established and popular book provides students with all the linguistic background they need for studying any period of French literature. For the second edition the text has been revised and updated throughout, and the two final chapters on contemporary French, and its position as a world language, have been completely rewritten. Starting with a brief description of the Vulgar Latin spoken in Gaul, and the earliest recorded forms of French, Peter Rickard traces the development of the language through the later Middle Ages and Renaissance to show how it became standardized in a near modern form in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The sixty French texts edited here are all direct commentaries, by contemporary authors, on the French language in the 17th century. By this time, French had begun to assert its independence; in its written and printed form it was being used for a wide variety of literary, technical and administrative purposes. Its practitioners not only successfully challenged the hitherto dominant position of Latin, but also began, for the first time, to discuss and analyse for its own sake the language which was now their preferred medium for expression -- hence, in the first half of the seventeenth century, a growing number of publications on the nature and characteristics of French. The texts demonstrate the sustained critical preoccupationwith the welfare of the French language in the 17th century, and illustrate the various ways in which the writers of the age contributed to its development as an instrument of literary expression and social intercourse.