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  • Print publication year: 1975
  • Online publication date: January 2010

16 - Old French dialects



The Francien dialect has been accepted as standard OFr in this work because it was the forerunner of ModFr. Around 1200, howeyer, it was only one of many competing dialects in northern France, for in the passage from Latin to OFr local differences had developed, slight or more marked, merging or overlapping into neighbouring regions, as shown in Table 13.

This table lists some conspicuous differences in pronunciation or graphy between Francien and its surrounding dialects, and these are discussed in §212. Additional comments on individual dialects follow in §§213 and 214.

Since few twelfth-century manuscripts have come down to us, the traits noted have been drawn mainly from thirteenth-century texts, especially from charters (see SB., p. 178) where the date and origin are usually known, and which illustrate the dialects more accurately than literary texts which often reflect the idiom of more than one scribe.

Dialectal regions

The dialects of the Langue d' Oïl are divided here into twelve regions. The south (S) includes the dialects of Bourbonnais, Nivernais, Berry and Oréans; the south-west (SW) covers the idioms of Angoumois, Saintonge, Aunis and Poitou, while the west (W) includes those of Touraine, Anjou, Maine and Brittany. These are followed by Norman (N) in Normandy, then Anglo-Norman (AN) in England. Picard (P) was spoken in Picardy and Artois; Walloon (Wn) follows in the north-east, then the dialects of Lorraine (L), Franche-Comté (FC) and Burgundy (B), these last five areas forming a crescent round Champagne (Ch). The final region, that of Francien, lies roughly in the centre and includes Paris.