Old French

Old French
Franceis, François, Romanz
Pronunciation[fɾãntsəɪs], [fɾãntswe], [romãnts]
Regionnorthern France, parts of Belgium (Wallonia), Scotland, England, Ireland, Principality of Antioch, Kingdom of Cyprus
Eraevolved into Middle French by the 14th century
Language codes
fro
ISO 639-3fro
oldf1239[1]
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Old French (franceis, françois, romanz; Modern French: ancien français) was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. In the 14th century, these dialects came to be collectively known as the langue d'oïl, contrasting with the langue d'oc or Occitan language in the south of France. The mid-14th century is taken as the transitional period to Middle French, the language of the French Renaissance, specifically based on the dialect of the Île-de-France region.

The place and area where Old French was spoken natively roughly extended to the northern half of the Kingdom of France and its vassals (including parts of the Angevin Empire, which during the 12th century remained under Anglo-Norman rule), and the duchies of Upper and Lower Lorraine to the east (corresponding to modern north-eastern France and Belgian Wallonia), but the influence of Old French was much wider, as it was carried to England and the Crusader states as the language of a feudal elite and of commerce.[2]

Areal and dialectal divisions

Map of France in 1180, at the height of the feudal system. The possessions of the French king are in light blue, vassals to the French king in green, Angevin possessions in red. Shown in white is the Holy Roman Empire to the east, the western fringes of which, including Upper Burgundy and Lorraine, were also part of the Old French areal.

The areal of Old French in contemporary terms corresponded to the northern parts of the Kingdom of France (including Anjou and Normandy, which in the 12th century were ruled by the Plantagenet kings of England), Upper Burgundy and the duchy of Lorraine. The Norman dialect was also spread to England and Ireland, and during the crusades, Old French was also spoken in the Kingdom of Sicily, and in the Principality of Antioch and the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Levant.

As part of the emerging Gallo-Romance dialect continuum, the langues d'oïl were contrasted with the langue d'oc (the emerging Occitano-Romance group, at the time also called Provençal), adjacent to the Old French area in the south-west, and with the Gallo-Italic group to the south-east. The Franco-Provençal group developed in Upper Burgundy, sharing features with both French and Provençal; it may have begun to diverge from the langue d'oïl as early as the 9th century, and is attested as a distinct Gallo-Romance variety by the 12th century.

Dialects or variants of Old French included:

Distribution of the modern langue d'oïl (shades of green) and of Franco-Provençal dialects (shades of blue)

Some modern languages are derived from Old French dialects other than Classical French, which is based on the Île-de-France dialect. They include Angevin, Berrichon, Bourguignon-Morvandiau, Champenois, Franc-Comtois, Gallo, Lorrain, Norman, Picard, Poitevin, Saintongeais and Walloon.

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