Definition of OLD FRENCH


Old French refers to the medieval form of the French language spoken in the northern part of France from the 9th century to the middle of the 14th century. Here are several key aspects associated with the Old French language:

Medieval Linguistic Evolution: Old French emerged from Vulgar Latin, gradually evolving through the influence of various linguistic factors such as Germanic languages (due to Frankish invasions), Celtic languages, and the language of the Gauls.

Dialectal Variation: Like any language spoken over a vast geographical area, Old French exhibited dialectal variation across different regions of France. These dialects gradually merged and evolved into the standard French language spoken today.

Literary and Cultural Influence: Old French was the language of literature, law, and administration during the medieval period. It produced renowned literary works such as “The Song of Roland” and “Tristan and Iseult,” contributing significantly to the cultural heritage of France and influencing later European literature.

Orthographic Development: The spelling and orthographic conventions of Old French differed from modern French, reflecting the phonological changes and linguistic innovations that occurred over time. Old French manuscripts often feature distinct orthographic conventions and variations.

Transition to Middle French: The end of the Old French period marked the transition to Middle French, characterized by further linguistic changes and the standardization of the French language. This period witnessed the emergence of influential literary works and the consolidation of French as a prestigious language in Europe.

Legacy and Linguistic Continuity: Despite its evolution into Middle and eventually Modern French, Old French left a lasting legacy on the French language, shaping its vocabulary, phonology, and grammar. Many words and expressions of Old French origin are still used in contemporary French, preserving a connection to its medieval linguistic heritage.

Old French represents a crucial stage in the linguistic evolution of the French language, marking its transition from Vulgar Latin to the standardized form of French spoken today. Through its literature, culture, and linguistic innovations, Old French laid the foundation for the rich linguistic heritage and cultural identity of France.

OLD FRENCH in a sentence

  • Scholars dedicated years to deciphering manuscripts written in Old French, unraveling the linguistic and historical treasures contained within.
  • The literature of the medieval troubadours often featured verses composed in the lyrical and expressive style of Old French.
  • The cathedral’s architecture displayed intricate carvings and inscriptions in Old French, providing glimpses into the cultural and religious life of the time.
  • Historians often consult legal documents written in Old French to gain insights into the legal systems and social structures of medieval societies.
  • The transition from Latin to Old French marked a significant linguistic shift in the region, influencing the development of various Romance languages.
  • The linguist specialized in the phonetics and phonology of Old French, shedding light on pronunciation patterns of the bygone era.
  • The royal court’s conversations were conducted in the refined and courtly manners of Old French, emphasizing eloquence and grace.
  • Modern scholars appreciate the beauty and complexity of Old French, recognizing its importance in the evolution of the French language.

Origin of OLD FRENCH

The term Old French refers to the medieval form of the French language spoken and written from the 9th to the 14th century.

  • Formation: “Old French” is a compound term comprising “old,” indicating an ancient or earlier stage of a language, and “French,” referring to the Romance language derived from Latin that developed in the region of France.
  • Semantic Context: In linguistic terms, “Old French” denotes the stage of the French language that preceded Middle French. It emerged from Vulgar Latin spoken by the Gallo-Romans and underwent significant evolution due to influences from Germanic languages brought by the Franks and the Celtic languages of Gaul. Old French texts include epic poems like the “Chanson de Roland” and lyric poetry by troubadours and trouvères.

The term Old French denotes the early historical stage of the French language, marking its development from Vulgar Latin to the form that eventually evolved into Middle and Modern French.


  • Medieval French
  • Ancient French
  • Early French
  • Antique French
  • Classical French
  • Middle French
  • Archaic French
  • Vintage French


  • Modern French
  • Contemporary French
  • Current French
  • Present-day French
  • Post-medieval French
  • New French
  • Updated French
  • Revised French


  • Linguistics
  • Language history
  • Philology
  • Manuscripts
  • Medieval literature
  • Romance languages
  • Norman conquest
  • Latin influence

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