History of French Language
French is a Romance language. Its grammar and most of its vocabulary are derived from oral and popular forms of Latin, such as use has transformed since the days of Roman Gaul. The Oaths of Strasbourg, in 842 that seal the alliance between Charles the Bald and Louis the German, written in Romance and Germanic languages, are considered the oldest document written in French.
In the Middle Ages, the French language is made of a multitude of dialects that vary considerably from one region to another. There are essentially dialects of oil (the North) and the dialects of oc (South). With the establishment and consolidation of the Capetian monarchy is the langue d'oil, which is gradually.
But we can say that France, like all the other countries of Europe at that time, a bilingual country: first, the great mass of the population speaks the vernacular (or vernacular), which is also that of masterpieces of ancient literature (the Song of Roland, the Roman de la rose ...) and secondly, the Latin is the language of the Church, clerics, scholars, teaching and is also a common language that enables communication between peoples of dialects more or less individualized.
Despite the continued progress of French, this coexistence is extended until the seventeenth century, and even much later into the world of the University and that of the Church.
Extension of the use of French (and, more importantly, a French that can be understood by all) is proportional to a large extent, the progress of the administration and the royal court in the country. Conversely, the rise of the French language and its widespread use are key factors in the construction of the French nation.
Two sections of the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterets, signed by Francis I in August 1539 gave a legal basis for this process:
So that there is cause to doubt the intelligence judgments of justice, we want and order them to be made and written so clearly, there is nor can be, no ambiguity or uncertainty, nor place to seek interpretation.
And for what such things are often happened on the intelligence of Latin words contained in those judgments, we are now all judgments, together with all other procedures, either of our sovereign courts and other subordinate and inferior or register , surveys, contracts, commissions, awards, wills, and any other acts and deeds of justice, be pronounced, recorded and delivered to the parties, the French mother tongue and not otherwise.
Thus the country's public life was inseparably linked to employment scrupulous (so as not to leave "no ambiguity or uncertainty") of "the French mother tongue." This founding text should be read in conjunction Deffence & Illustration of language françoyse (1549). The manifesto of the group later called the "Pleiades" proclaims, exactly ten years after the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterets, excellence and the rule of French in poetry. We see the strong commitment to the French language meets a requirement of political, legal and literary.
the same requirement which led to the creation of the French Academy in
1635. In the words of Marc Fumaroli, Richelieu founded the Academy for
"giving the unity of the kingdom forged by the political language and a
style that symbolize and cement. Thus, Article XXIV of the Statute
stipulates that "the primary function of the Academy is to work with due
care and diligence possible to give some rules to our language and make
it pure, eloquent and capable of handling arts and sciences. "
The device designed by Richelieu was so perfect that it has survived the centuries without a major change: the political power can not abuse without intervening directly on the tongue so it leaves an independent assembly, whose status is similar to that of the superior The care record, to establish and regulate its use. In terms of language, encouraging, and regulating such weapons are more effective than the authoritarian intervention.
The brilliance and power of the French monarchy, the refinement of culture, language enhancements to the Academy and grammarians, the significant influence of Protestant emigrant populations, mean that the French quickly overflows in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as part of the nation. It is the language of the aristocracy and educated people throughout Northern Europe, Germany, Poland, Russia ... It is also the language of diplomacy. All the major treaties are written in French, whereas they were previously in Latin. The empire of the French language is far greater (and is a constant) the political and economic empire of France.
Since the first edition of the Dictionary of the Academy, which already represented an unprecedented effort normative, the spelling has changed considerably, both because of a natural evolution than by reasoned intervention of the Academy of lexicographers and grammarians. Thinking about the spelling must consider multiple data and often contradictory, as the weight of past practice, the constraints of the etymology and pronunciation of those, the practices of the school, those in the world of publishers and printers, etc..
The Academy has used throughout its history, maintaining a balance
between these requirements, experience proving that the draft abstract
reformers can not bend on their own use. So she adopted in 1835 in the
sixth edition of his dictionary, the spelling-ais for words ending in-ee
but hitherto pronounced long E (Francois, I was, etc..) Reform claimed
in the previous century by Voltaire.
In the nineteenth century, the development of the school has no doubt helped to fix some spelling, while creating parallel major reform projects. The educational system was in need firm rules that might be taught to students. After heated debate, both resolutions settled in 1900 and 1901, mere tolerance spelling and syntax for examinations and competitions of Public Instruction.
In 1990, the Superior Council of French was published in the Official Journal a paper entitled Corrections in spelling. The major changes recommended were:
- The welding of a number of compound nouns (wallet, pingpong ...);
- Harmonization of the plural of compound nouns with the names simple (a snowdrop, snowdrops, a nurse, the carer ...);
- The possibility of removing some accents circumflex on i and u (vault, traitor, seem, oysters ...)
- The accent on e when it is preceded by another letter and followed by a syllable that includes a silent e (event, celery, dry, regulatory - as regulation - regulation ...)
- Applying the standard rules of spelling and agree to the words of foreign origin (impresarios, a diesel, media ...).
- The rectification of a few graphical glitches (cart, imbecility, lotus, relay ...).
Despite the moderation and good sense of these proposals, the press seized the issue and kept up a quarrel fairly artificial. The Academy unanimously approved the document, but remained faithful to its traditional line of conduct by requiring that "these recommendations are not implemented by including mandatory and ministerial circular. While wishing "that these simplifications and unifications are subject to the test of time, the Company has adopted a number in his Dictionary, mentioning the other end of the book.
Considering that the competition of English, even in everyday life,
represented a real threat to the French and Anglo-American imports in
our lexicon become too massive, government authorities have been
persuaded over the last thirty years, to supplement the traditional
control of the language.
Since 1972, the ministerial committees of terminology and neologisms are formed. They are working to identify and sometimes even create, the French terms which should be used to avoid this or that foreign word, or to appoint a new concept or a new object yet unnamed. These terms are then required for administration. People no longer say tiebreak tiebreak but, replaces walkman player, software replaces software, etc..
In 1975, the law called "Bas-Lauriol" makes use of French mandatory in
various fields, such as audiovisual or commerce (advertising,
instructions, invoices, etc..), And in the workplace.
During the 1990s, a legislative package more coherent and comprehensive is put in place. A new paragraph is added June 25, 1992, Article 2 of the Constitution: The language of the Republic is French.
Based on this principle, the Act of August 4, 1994, called "Toubon law," extends the provisions of the 1975 Act. The decree of July 3, 1996 establishes a new general committee of terminology and neologisms, and he is expanding the device to enrich the French language, the agreement of the French Academy becoming indispensable for the recommended terms are published with their definitions the Official Journal. The moral of the Judicial Academy is thus confirmed by the right for the benefit of agencies and organizations involved in defending the French language.
In 1984, the Prime Minister created a "Commission on the vocabulary of terminology concerning the activities of women." The decree stipulates inter alia that "the feminization of job titles and titles designed to fill some gaps in the use of French in this area and to provide legitimacy for social functions and occupations of women."
The French Academy, which had not been consulted, expressed his reservations in a statement prepared by Dumézil and Claude Levi-Strauss. It denounces in particular the linguistic misunderstanding on which the company: it should be noted that the masculine gender in French is unmarked and can therefore designate either men and women, however, the female is more appropriately called gender marked, and "the mark is private. It affects the marked term of limitation, the other one is free. Unlike the unmarked gender, gender marked, applied to animate beings, establishes gender segregation. "So the risk feminization does lead to a result opposite of that predicted, and establish, in the language itself, discrimination between men and women. The Academy finally denies the very principle of government intervention on the use, holding that such an approach risks "to the confusion and disorder in a delicate balance born of use, and it would seem better advised allow the use of care change. "
A circular from the Prime Minister recommended in 1986 to proceed with the feminization of trade names, functions, ranks and titles in official documents and administration. It was hardly used. Then in 1997, some government ministers advocated on their behalf form feminized "the Minister", which provoked a new reaction of academicians. In a circular dated March 6, 1998, the Prime Minister found little effect of the 1986 text, but recommended further feminization "when it comes to terms with the feminine is also commonly used" . He charged the general committee of terminology and neologisms to "review the matter."
The report of the Committee was submitted to the Prime Minister in
October 1998. He recalled that government intervention on the use would
meet soon to legal barriers and practical, and they are uncertain,
anyway, it is implemented. It establishes a clear difference between the
trades on the one hand (where the female form have always been in use
and pose no particular problem), and functions, grades or other
securities, which must be clearly distinguished from person. The
function can be identified with the person who holds the title to the
person wearing it, etc.. And for this reason, the use or invention of
the female form is not desirable.
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