Old French

Around the eleventh century and later, Old French was the primary dialect spoken in the northern region of modern day France, along with regions surrounding it which are today part of Belgium and Switzerland. Some historians claim that there were traces of written forms of Old French dating from the eighth and ninth centuries. These written scripts were mainly agreements between the Frankish kings Charles II and Louis the German during the ninth century, who controlled the kingdoms of West Francia and East Francia, respectively. After the Franks lost power, their empire came under the control of the Capetian dynasty. During the reign of the Capetians, Old French,was spread to other parts of France, increasing its presence from the North to South regions of earlier France.

Old French grammar and phonetics were influenced mainly by three languages. These languages were Frankish, Latin and Gaulish. Of these, Gaulish is the oldest, and was commonly used to communicate until the early years of the Roman Empire. The Gaulish language belonged to the Celtic language family, and was prominent in the region of Gaul”which includes modern day France, Belgium and Switzerland”from before the first century. The Standard French dialect of today has retained very few words from the Gaulish dialect.

The Latin language was the successor of the Gaulish dialect in the earlier region of Gaul where modern day France exists. This was mainly due to the domination of Romans over several centuries after Latin was introduced in the region. Latin had two sub divisions: Classical Latin and Vulgar Latin. In fact, Vulgar Latin was a derivation of Classical Latin. Vulgar Latin was the dialect mainly spoken in this region during the era of Roman domination. Some linguists believe that Vulgar Latin was the theoretical ancestor of all the Romance languages, though there is no strong evidence to support this fact. Old French included several aspects from this Latin dialect, such as the structure of verbs, the reduction of the neuter in case of genders and the form of adjectives, all of which were included in Old French as they were used in Vulgar Latin.

The Franks were the rulers of the region of France after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Frankish language was spoken in the region for a considerably long time. Old French had several loan words from the earlier Frankish language, but very few of these exist in modern French.

 






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