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Old French Online

Lesson 4

Brigitte L.M. Bauer and Jonathan Slocum

As noted in the Introduction to Lesson 3, Old French literature includes several works that praise the lives or martyrdom of saints. Although most saints were historical figures, a few were instead the product of popular imagination. One of the latter figures was, in all likelihood, Saint Eulalia, whose martyrdom shows striking similarities with that of St. Agnes, a young Roman martyr.

According to popular belief, St. Eulalia of Mérida (a.k.a. St. Eulalia of Barcelona) was a saint and martyr who died in 304 at the age of twelve under Maximian, ruler under Emperor Diocletian. In 304, Christianity was not yet the official religion of the Roman Empire.

In 878, bones were identified in Barcelona as those of St. Eulalia, which triggered the saint's cult there and in France as well. In Spain, St. Eulalia was one of the most popular saints. In art she typically is represented with the martyr's palm, and often a dove flies out of her mouth. Our text selection will show why she is represented in that way.

Reading and Textual Analyis

The text of this lesson, La Cantilène de Sainte Eulalie, is one of the earliest Old French documents. Like the previous document, it has a liturgical background and was in fact a hymn written to praise the Christian virtues of the saint in question. The hymn praises the saint's stamina: her Christian faith and her love of God remain unshaken in the face of material temptations, threats of torture, and ultimately physical suffering. Having survived the flames, she eventually is decapitated and her soul goes straight to heaven. The narrator then invites readers and listeners to pray that St. Eulalia will intercede on their behalf.

For various scholarly reasons it has been assumed that the text dates from 882 and was written in the north of France. There is no consensus among scholars whether this text is a poem or, rather, poetic prose. Earlier Latin texts may have been a source of inspiration for this document. The reader will notice a relatively high incidence of Latin words in this hymn, which counts only 29 lines (e.g. anima, clementia, post, or Christus). The use of cases is more consistent than we have noticed in the texts discussed so far.

The text also has a number of archaisms in word order patterns, cf. the sequence genitive + noun as in li Deo inimi, the sequence direct object + verb as in qu'elle Deo raneiet, or the sequence direct object + infinitive as in volt lo seule lazsier (see also Grammar Point 17). The syntactic structures are more complex than they have been so far: there are several rather complex subordinate constructions involving a subjunctive form of the verb, e.g. elle no'nt eskoltet les ... conselliers qu'elle Deo raneiet or il li enortet, dont lei nonque chielt, qued elle fuiet lo nom..., ell'ent aduret lo ... element.

The nothern origin of the text is illustrated by a certain number of features, for example retention of [k] before [a] as in cose 'thing', but chief 'head' with a palatalized initial consonant.

Buona pulcella fut Eulalia,
Bel auret corps, bellezour anima.

  • buona -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <bon> good -- good
  • pulcella -- noun; nominative singular <pucele> girl, servant, maiden -- a girl
  • fut -- verb; third person singular preterite <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- was
  • Eulalia -- proper name; nominative singular <Eulalia> Eulalia -- Eulalia
  • bel -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <bel> dear, beloved, handsome -- beautiful
  • auret -- verb; third person singular pluperfect <avoir, aveir> have, be -- she had # very unusual form which traces back to Latin habuerat 3rd sg. pluperfect 'she had had'; had preterite value in Old French
  • corps -- noun; oblique singular <cors> body -- a body
  • bellezour -- adjective; comparative oblique singular feminine <bel> dear, beloved, handsome -- more beautiful
  • anima -- noun; oblique singular <anima> soul -- a soul # Latin word anima, animae

Voldrent la veintre li Deo inimi,
Voldrent la faire diaule servir.

  • voldrent -- verb; third person plural pluperfect <voloir> want -- wanted # very unusual form which traces back to Latin voluerant 3rd pl. pluperfect 'they had wanted'; had preterite value in Old French
  • la -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object feminine <il> he -- her
  • veintre -- verb; infinitive <veintre> vanquish, conquer, overcome -- overcome
  • li -- definite article; nominative plural masculine <li> the -- the
  • Deo -- proper name; oblique singular <Dieu, Deu> God -- of God
  • inimi -- noun; nominative plural <enemi> enemy, devil -- enemies
  • voldrent -- verb; third person plural pluperfect <voloir> want -- they wanted # very unusual form which traces back to Latin voluerant 3rd pl. pluperfect 'they had wanted'; had preterite value in Old French
  • la -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object feminine <il> he -- her
  • faire -- verb; infinitive <faire> make -- to make
  • diaule -- noun; oblique singular <deable, diavle> devil -- the devil
  • servir -- verb; infinitive <servir> serve -- serve

Elle no'nt eskoltet les mals conselliers
Qu'elle Deo raneiet chi maent sus en ciel.

  • elle -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative feminine <il> he -- she
  • no'nt -- negation; <non> not + adverb; <ent, end> subsequently -- not...
  • eskoltet -- verb; third person singular present <escolter> listen to, pay attention to -- does listen to
  • les -- definite article; oblique plural masculine <li> the -- the
  • mals -- adjective; oblique plural masculine <mal> bad, mean, wretched -- mean
  • conselliers -- noun; oblique plural <conseillier, conseilleor> counsellor, advisor -- men who advise
  • qu'elle -- conjunction; <que> that + personal pronoun; third person singular nominative feminine <il> he -- that she
  • Deo -- proper name; oblique singular <Dieu, Deu> God -- God
  • raneiet -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <renoier, renier> abjure, deny -- abjure
  • chi -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • maent -- verb; third person singular present <maindre> stay, remain -- lives
  • sus en -- adverb; <sus, suz> up, above + preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- right up in
  • ciel -- noun; oblique singular <ciel> heaven -- heaven

Ne por or ned argent ne paramenz,
Por manatce regiel ne preiement,
Niule cose non la pouret omque pleier,
La polle sempre non amast lo Deo menestier.

  • ne -- negation; <ne, ni> nor, and not -- not
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- for
  • or -- noun; oblique singular <or> gold -- gold
  • ned -- negation; <ne, ni> nor, and not -- nor
  • argent -- noun; oblique singular <argent> silver, money, riches -- money
  • ne -- negation; <ne, ni> nor, and not -- nor
  • paramenz -- noun; oblique plural <parament> finery, precious object -- precious objects
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- because of
  • manatce -- noun; oblique singular <menace, manace> menace -- menaces
  • regiel -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <regal> royal, of the king -- royal
  • ne -- negation; <ne, ni> nor, and not -- not... or
  • preiement -- noun; oblique singular <priement> prayer -- begging
  • niule -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <nul> no, not any -- one
  • cose -- noun; nominative singular <chose, cose> thing, affair, creature -- thing
  • non -- negation; <non> not -- not
  • la -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object feminine <il> he -- her
  • pouret -- verb; third person singular pluperfect <pooir, poeir, poier> can, be able -- could # very unusual form which traces back to Latin potuerat 3rd sg. pluperfect 'had been able'; had preterite value in Old French
  • omque -- adverb; <onques> once, ever -- ever
  • pleier -- verb; infinitive <ploier> bend, yield -- to make yield from
  • la -- definite article; nominative singular feminine <li> the -- ...
  • polle -- noun; nominative singular <polle> girl -- ...
  • sempre -- adverb; <sempres, sempre> always, immediately -- continuously
  • non -- negation; <non> not -- ...
  • amast -- verb; third person singular subjunctive imperfective <amer> love -- loving
  • lo -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- ...
  • Deo -- proper name; oblique singular <Dieu, Deu> God -- God's
  • menestier -- noun; oblique singular <menestier> service, profession -- service

E por o fut presentede Maximiien,
Chi rex eret a cels dis soure pagiens.

  • e -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- for
  • o -- demonstrative; oblique singular neuter <o, ou, euc> this -- this reason
  • fut -- verb; third person singular preterite <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- she was
  • presentede -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular feminine <presenter> present, offer, bring before the judge -- brought before
  • Maximiien -- proper name; oblique singular <Maximiien> Maximian -- Maximian
  • chi -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • rex -- noun; nominative singular <regem> king -- king # Latin word rex, regis
  • eret -- verb; third person singular imperfective <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- was
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- in
  • cels -- demonstrative; oblique plural masculine <cil> that -- those
  • dis -- noun; oblique plural <di> day -- days
  • soure -- preposition; <seur, soure, sur, sor> on, over, to, above -- over
  • pagiens -- noun; oblique plural <paien, pagien> pagan, heathen -- the pagans

Il li enortet, dont lei nonque chielt,
Qued elle fuiet lo nom christiien
Ell'ent aduret lo suon element.

  • il -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- he
  • li -- personal pronoun; third person singular indirect object feminine <il> he -- her
  • enortet -- verb; third person singular present <enorter> exhort, urge, seduce -- urges
  • dont -- relative pronoun; <dont, dunt> of whom, of which, whose -- but
  • lei -- personal pronoun; third person singular indirect object feminine <il> he -- she
  • nonque -- adverb; <nonque> never -- never
  • chielt -- impersonal verb; third person singular present <chaloir> concern, matter -- is interested
  • qued -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • elle -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative feminine <il> he -- she
  • fuiet -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <fuir, fuier> flee from, abandon -- abandon
  • lo -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • nom -- noun; oblique singular <nom, non> name, title -- name
  • christiien -- adjective; oblique singular <chrestien> christian -- of christian
  • ell'ent -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative feminine <il> he + adverb; <ent, end> subsequently -- and... subsequently
  • aduret -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <adurer> worship -- worship
  • lo -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- ...
  • suon -- possessive; third person singular oblique masculine <son> his -- his
  • element -- noun; oblique singular <element> force, energy, god -- god

Melz sostendreiet les empedementz
Qu'elle perdesse sa virginitét.
Por os furet morte a grand honestét.

  • melz -- comparative adverb; <miels, mels> better, rather -- rather
  • sostendreiet -- verb; third person singular conditional <sostenir> sustain, support -- she would undergo
  • les -- definite article; oblique plural masculine <li> the -- ...
  • empedementz -- noun; oblique plural <empedement> persecution -- persecution
  • qu'elle -- conjunction; <que> than + personal pronoun; third person singular nominative feminine <il> he -- than...
  • perdesse -- verb; third person singular subjunctive imperfective <perdre> lose, perish -- lose
  • sa -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular feminine <son> his -- her
  • virginitét -- noun; oblique singular <virginitét> spiritual purity, christian purity -- spiritual purity
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- for
  • os -- demonstrative; oblique plural neuter <o, ou, euc> this -- these reasons
  • furet -- verb; third person singular pluperfect <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- ... # very unusual form which traces back to Latin fuerat 3rd sg. pluperfect 'she had been'; had preterite value in Old French
  • morte -- verb; perfective participle nominative singular feminine <morir> kill, die -- she died
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- in
  • grand -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <grant> great, large, tall -- great
  • honestét -- noun; oblique singular <honestét> honor -- honor

Enz enl fou la getterent, com arde tost.
Elle colpes non auret, por o nos coist.
A czo nos voldret concreidre li rex pagiens;
Ad une spede li roveret tolir lo chief.

  • enz -- adverb, reinforcing element; <ens, enz>... -- ... # reinforces the preposition en
  • enl -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of + definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- into the
  • fou -- noun; oblique singular <feu, fou> fire, family -- fire
  • la -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object feminine <il> he -- her
  • getterent -- verb; third person plural preterite <geter, giter> throw, reject, utter -- they threw
  • com -- conjunction; <com, cum> in order that -- so that
  • arde -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <ardoir, ardre> burn -- she would burn
  • tost -- adverb; <tost> soon, immediately, quickly -- quickly
  • elle -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative feminine <il> he -- she
  • colpes -- noun; oblique plural <colpe, corpe, cope> sin, mistake -- sins
  • non -- negation; <non> not -- no
  • auret -- verb; third person singular pluperfect <avoir, aveir> have, be -- had # very unsual form which traces back to Latin habuerat 3rd sg. pluperfect 'she had had'; had preterite value in Old French
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- for
  • o -- demonstrative; oblique singular neuter <o, ou, euc> this -- this reason
  • nos coist -- negation; <non> not + personal pronoun; third person singular direct object <se> he + verb; third person singular preterite <cuire> cook, burn -- she did not burn
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • czo -- demonstrative; oblique singular neuter <ço, ceo, ce, ceu> this, that, it -- this
  • nos -- negation; <non> not + personal pronoun; third person singular direct object <se> he -- not
  • voldret -- verb; third person singular pluperfect <voloir> want -- did...want # very unusual form which traces back to Latin voluerat 3rd sg. pluperfect 'he had wanted'; had preterite value in Old French
  • concreidre -- verb; infinitive <concreidre> give in -- to give in
  • li -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • rex -- noun; nominative singular <regem> king -- king # Latin word rex, regis
  • pagiens -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <paien> pagan, heathen -- pagan
  • ad -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- with
  • une -- indefinite article; oblique singular feminine <un> a -- a
  • spede -- noun; oblique singular <espee> sword -- sword
  • li -- personal pronoun; third person singular indirect object feminine <il> he -- ...
  • roveret -- verb; third person singular pluperfect <rover> ask, call upon, order -- he ordered # very unusual form which traces back to Latin rogaverat 3rd sg. pluperfect 'he had ordered'; had preterite value in Old French
  • tolir -- verb; infinitive <tolir> take off, cut off -- to (be) cut off
  • lo -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- her
  • chief -- noun; oblique singular <chief> head -- head

La domnizelle celle kose non contredist:
Volt lo seule lazsier, si ruovet Krist.
In figure de colomb volat a ciel.

  • la -- definite article; nominative singular feminine <li> the -- the
  • domnizelle -- noun; nominative singular <damoiselle> girl of noble birth -- girl
  • celle -- demonstrative; oblique singular feminine <cil> that -- that
  • kose -- noun; oblique singular <chose, cose> thing, affair, creature -- idea
  • non -- negation; <non> not -- not
  • contredist -- verb; third person singular preterite <contredire> oppose, resist -- did oppose
  • volt -- verb; third person singular present <voloir> want -- she wants
  • lo -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- ...
  • seule -- noun; oblique singular <siecle, secle, seule> earthly life, world -- earthly life
  • lazsier -- verb; infinitive <laissier> leave, let, abandon -- to abandon
  • si -- conjunction; <si> and, and thus -- and
  • ruovet -- verb; third person singular present <rover> ask, call upon, order -- she calls upon
  • Krist -- proper name; oblique singular <Christ> Christ -- Christ
  • in -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- in
  • figure -- noun; oblique singular <figure> form, person, character -- the form
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- of
  • colomb -- noun; oblique singular <colon, colomb> pigeon, dove -- a dove
  • volat -- verb; third person singular preterite <voler> fly -- she flew
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • ciel -- noun; oblique singular <ciel> heaven -- heaven

Tuit oram que por nos degnet preier
Qued auuisset de nos Christus mercit
Post la mort et a lui nos laist venir
Par souue clementia

  • tuit -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <tot> all, every, completely -- all
  • oram -- verb; first person plural imperative <orer> pray -- let us pray
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- for
  • nos -- personal pronoun; first person plural direct object <nos> we -- us
  • degnet -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <daignier> deign -- she will deign
  • preier -- verb; infinitive <prier, preier> pray, beg, beseech -- to pray
  • qued -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • auuisset -- verb; third person singular subjunctive imperfective <avoir, aveir> have, be -- may have
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- on
  • nos -- personal pronoun; first person plural direct object <nos> we -- us
  • Christus -- proper name; nominative singular <Christus> Christ -- Christ # Latin word Christus, Christi
  • mercit -- noun; oblique singular <merci> grace, mercy, pity -- mercy
  • post -- preposition; <post> after -- after # Latin word post
  • la -- definite article; oblique singular feminine <li> the -- ...
  • mort -- noun; oblique singular <mort> death -- death
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • lui -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- Him
  • nos -- personal pronoun; first person plural direct object <nos> we -- us
  • laist -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <laissier> leave, let, abandon -- may allow
  • venir -- verb; infinitive <venir> come, go -- to come
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- through
  • souue -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular feminine <son> his -- His
  • clementia -- noun; oblique singular <clementiam> grace -- grace # Latin word clementia, clementiae

Lesson Text

Buona pulcella fut Eulalia,
Bel auret corps, bellezour anima.

Voldrent la veintre li Deo inimi,
Voldrent la faire diaule servir.

Elle no'nt eskoltet les mals conselliers
Qu'elle Deo raneiet chi maent sus en ciel.

Ne por or ned argent ne paramenz,
Por manatce regiel ne preiement,
Niule cose non la pouret omque pleier,
La polle sempre non amast lo Deo menestier.

E por o fut presentede Maximiien,
Chi rex eret a cels dis soure pagiens.

Il li enortet, dont lei nonque chielt,
Qued elle fuiet lo nom christiien
Ell'ent aduret lo suon element.

Melz sostendreiet les empedementz
Qu'elle perdesse sa virginitét.
Por os furet morte a grand honestét.

Enz enl fou la getterent, com arde tost.
Elle colpes non auret, por o nos coist.
A czo nos voldret concreidre li rex pagiens;
Ad une spede li roveret tolir lo chief.

La domnizelle celle kose non contredist:
Volt lo seule lazsier, si ruovet Krist.
In figure de colomb volat a ciel.

Tuit oram que por nos degnet preier
Qued auuisset de nos Christus mercit
Post la mort et a lui nos laist venir
Par souue clementia

Translation

Eulalia was a good girl,
She had a beautiful body and an even more beautiful soul.
The enemies of God wanted to overcome her,
They wanted to make her serve the devil.
She does not listen to the mean men who advise
That she abjure God, who lives right up in heaven.
Not for gold, nor money, nor precious objects,
Not because of royal menaces or begging,
Not one thing could ever make her yield
From continuously loving God's service.
And for this reason she was brought before Maximian,
Who in those days was king over the pagans.
He urges her, but she is never interested,
That she abandon the name of christian
And subsequently worship his god.
She would rather undergo persecution
Than lose her spiritual purity.
For these reasons she died in great honor.
They threw her into the fire so that she would burn quickly.
She had no sins, for this reason she did not burn.
The pagan king did not want to give in to this;
He ordered her head to be cut off with a sword.
The girl did not oppose that idea:
She wants to abandon earthly life, and she calls upon Christ.
In the form of a dove she flew to heaven.
Let us all pray that she will deign to pray for us
That Christ may have mercy on us
And may allow us to come to Him after death
Through His grace.

Grammar

16. Imperative

The imperative is a mood that, in direct address, expresses an order, a request, or a suggestion. The imperative may be negated:

    ne vus esmaiez! (CdR 27) 'do not worry'
    vs. tais, Oliver (CdR 1026) 'be silent, Oliver'

Verbs in Old French have two imperative forms, the second person singular and the second person plural, which are used when one addresses the person or persons with whom one is talking; cf.:

Imperative, 2nd Sg. and 2nd Pl.

Imperative       2nd Sg.   2nd Pl.
    Verbs in -er   chante   chantez
    Verbs in -ir, with infix   fenis   fenissiez
        fenissez    
    Verbs in -ir, without infix   part   partez
    Verbs in -re   cor   corez
             
    estre   soies   soiiez
            soiez
    avoir   aie(s)   aiiez
            aiez

In addition, there is a first person plural imperative, which rather is an adhortative, e.g. chantons 'let us sing'. Its forms are as follows:

Imperative, 1st Pl.

Imperative       1st Pl.
    Verbs in -er   chantons
    Verbs in -ir with infix   fenissons
    Verbs in -ir without infix   partons
    Verbs in -re   corons
         
    estre   soiiens, soions
    avoir   aiiens, aions

Verbs with varying stress patterns (e.g. aimer, aim 'I love' [stress on the stem] vs. amons 'we love' [stress on the ending], see Lesson 2), have similar stress patterns for the imperative forms; the singular forms have no ending, the plural forms are identical to those of the present indicative:

Imperative, Verbs with varying stress patterns

Imperative       2nd Sg.   1st Pl.   2nd Pl.    
    aimer 'love'   aim   amons   amez    
    tenir 'hold'   tien   tenons   tenez    
    dire   'say'   di   dimes   dites
    faire   'make'   fai   faimes   faites
    croire 'believe'   croi   creons   creez    
    boire   'drink'   beif   bevons   bevez
        boif   buvons   buvez    

The imperative often combines with the particle car, which functions as a reinforcing element:

    Rollant, l'olifant car sunez (CdR 1059) 'Roland, blow the horn'
    Car chevalchiez, barun! 'Ride, knights!'

In polite expressions the second person subjunctive could have imperative value as well, in main clauses with or without particle, e.g. car, which here again functions as a reinforcing element; cf.:

    quar me herberges ... (Al. 217, Lesson 3) 'may you lodge me' > 'lodge me'

Finally, infinitives could function as imperatives as well, especially in negation; they then have the value of a second person singular imperative; cf.:

    Sire cumpainz, amis, nel dire ja! (CdR 1113)
    'Sir companion, friend, never say that!

In affirmative uses, the infinitive is preceded by de, the definite article, and or in clause-initial position. Often the imperative then refers to the first person plural and has adhortative value; cf.:

    or del mangier 'well let's eat'
    or du ferir 'let's strike!'
17. Word Order

When discussing word order patterns including subjects and direct objects, linguists typically refer to the order of nominal elements; in the ordering of pronominal elements non-syntactic factors (e.g. prosodic factors) play an important role.

The well-established case system in Latin allowed for word order variation. Consequently, for pragmatic reasons or reasons of emphasis, for example, word order in Latin could vary, which however did not mean than Latin word order was indiscriminately "free". There were clearcut tendencies, such as:

· the direct object in unmarked sequence preceded the finite verb; cf.:

    Caesar   Gallorum   animos   verbis   confirmavit
    Caesar-Nom.   Gauls-Gen.   minds-Acc.   words-Abl.   comfort-Pf.-3Pl.
    'Caesar comforted the minds of the Gauls with his words'

· the genitive as a rule preceded the head noun in unmarked order; cf.:

    Caesaris   adventus
    Caesar-Gen.   approach
    'Caesar's approach'

· in comparative constructions the ablative of comparison tended to precede the adjective proper; cf.:

    luce   clarior
    light-Abl.   bright-Comp.
    'brighter than light'

· the subject as topic of the sentence occurred in clause-initial position. As a result the unmarked word order of nominal elements in Latin was Subject + Direct Object + Verb; cf.:

    Ariovistus   legatos   ad   eum   mittit
    Ariovistus-Subj.   messengers-Dir. Obj.   to   him   send-Pres.
    'Ariovistus sends messengers to him'

In the course of history these Latin ordering patterns, which had been inherited from Proto-Indo-European, were reversed. In Old French, therefore, the direct object follows the finite verb, the genitive follows the noun, and the referent follows the adjective.

· verb + direct object:

    esguardat la pulcela (Al. 56) 'he looked at the girl'
    cunquist la tere altaigne (CdR 2, Lesson 1) 'he conquered the high land'

Similarly, with a predicate:

    Li empereres se fait e balz e liez (CdR 96, Lesson 1)
    'the emperor is ebullient as well as joyful'

· noun + genitive:

    la cambre sum pedre (Al. 74) 'the room of his father'

· adjective + referent:

    mains riches de mon pere (Palefroi 407) 'less rich than my father'
    plus de .IIII. milliers 'more than four thousand'
    chevalier ... plus vieil de lui (Palefroi 658-60) 'a knight older than he'

In general terms it is accurate to say that word order in Old French was well on its way to developing the patterns that are typical of the modern language, but there was more variety and many structures still featured archaic characteristics.

The archaic order object + verb, for example, survived for a long time in subordinate clauses, especially in relative clauses; cf.:

    Marsilie ..., ki Deu nen aimet 'Marsilie ..., who does not love God,'
    Mahumet sert e Apollin recleimet (CdR 7-8, Lesson 1) 'serves Mahomet and invokes Satan'

Similarly the next example with a prepositional phrase:

    n'i ad castel ki devant lui remaigne (CdR 3)
    'there is no castle that resists him'

In other constructions as well one may find archaisms, as in those including an infinitive preceded by its direct object:

    voldrent la faire diaule servir (Eul. 4, this lesson)
    'they want her to serve the devil'

Other sequences are attested as well, but in given contexts. When the subordinate clause is introduced by a relative pronoun in direct object function, the sequence becomes, Complement + Subject + Verb, as in:

    la dame ... que li chevaliers tant aima
    'the lady whom the knight loved that much'

Verb + Subject + Complement typically is attested in interrogative sentences.

A typical construction in Old French is what generally is referred to as subject inversion: when the clause is introduced by a complement, the subject follows the finite verb. Similarly, when the clause is introduced by an adverb or an adverbial construction, the subject commonly follows the finite verb:

    Sur palies blancs siedent cil cevaler (CdR 110, Lesson 1)
    'On white precious clothes the knights are seated'
    ço sent Rollant que ... (CdR 2355)
    'Roland feels that ...'

Similarly, in interjections we frequently find subject inversion:

    Deus! dist li reis, tant me pois esmaier (CdR 2412, Lesson 2)
    'God, the king said, I can torment myself'
18. Demonstratives

Whereas Latin had a demonstrative system based on three elements, French from its earliest times had a system based on two demonstratives; cf.:

Demonstratives, Latin vs. Old French

    Latin   Old French
this [close to me]   hic   cist 'this'
that [close to you]   iste    
that [close to him/her]   ille   cil ' that'

Old French therefore made a distinction between 'this' and 'that'. The forms cist and cil trace back to Latin iste and ille respectively, to which a reinforcing demonstrative element ecce has been added: ecce + istum > cist and ecce + illum > cil.

The inflected forms of the demonstratives in Old French are as follows:

Declension of Demonstratives, cist 'this'

cist 'this'   Masculine   Feminine
Nom. Sg.   (i)cist   (i)ceste
Obl. Sg.   (i)cest   (i)ceste
    (i)cet    
Obl. Sg. (stressed)   (i)cestui   (i)cest(e)i
         
Nom. Pl.   (i)cist   (i)cestes, (i)cez, (i)ces
Obl. Pl.   (i)cez   (i)cestes, (i)cez, (i)ces
    (i)ces    

Declension of Demonstratives, cil ' that'

cil 'that'   Masculine   Feminine
Nom. Sg.   (i)cil   (i)cele
Obl. Sg.   (i)cel   (i)cele
Obl. Sg. (stressed)   (i)celui   (i)cel(e)i
         
Nom. Pl.   (i)cil   (i)celes
Obl. Pl.   (i)cels   (i)celes, (i)ces
    (i)ceus    

The prefix i- is a reinforcing element.

To some extent the original demonstrative distinctions are still present in the early uses in Old French: cist 'here' referred to elements within the range (in time and space) of the speaker and the person spoken to; cil 'that' referred to elements close to a third person.

Cist and cil originally were used both as adjectival and pronominal elements; cf. adjectival uses:

    en cest païs 'in this country'
    en ceste ville 'in this town'
    en celle ville 'in that town'

Pronominal use:

    la u cist furent (CdR 108, Lesson 1)
    'there were these were'

In time, a preference developed by which cist came to be used as an adjectival element, and cil as a pronominal element. Some of the individual forms of the paradigms underwent this change rapidly, others survived much longer. Adjectival cels and celes, for example, relatively soon gave way to cez and ces in that function.

Demonstratives in Old French have deictic function--pointing out elements that are near or further away--and sometimes defining function. In these instances they are similar to definite articles; cf.:

    sur palies blancs siedent cil cevaler (CdR 110, Lesson 1)
    'on white precious clothes the knights are seated'

In order to reinforce the deictic value of demonstratives, speakers started to use the adverbial particles -ci and -la. The particle was attached to the demonstrative or its noun. Instances are attested from the 12th century onward.

The demonstrative paradigms in Old French also included "neuter" forms. These forms were not part of the gender system as such, which was based on the distinction masculine vs. feminine; they refer to elements that are best translated in English as 'it', being elements of indefinite gender; cf.:

Neuter   cist   cil
Nom. sg.   (i)cest   (i)cel
Obl. Sg.   (i)cest   (i)cel
         
Nom. Pl.   -   -
Obl. Pl.   -   -

There also existed an isolated neuter form that traces back to Latin ecce + hoc: ce, with a stressed form ço. Ce, and especially ço, is frequently used in Old French in clause-initial position in combination with verbs such as dire 'say', croire 'believe', sentir 'feel', voir 'see'; the construction is followed by a subordinate clause or by direct speech; cf.:

    Ço dist li reis: "Cel corn ad lunge aleine!" (CdR 1789, Lesson 2)
    'The king spoke these words: "That horn has a long breath!"'
     
    Ço sent Rollant que la mort le trespent (CdR 2355, Lesson 2)
    'Roland feels that death overcomes him completely'

In addition to compound forms, a non-compound form survived as well in Old French: Latin hoc > Old French o, ou, euc. The form could be used as subject as well as object, often referring to the preceding clause or sentence; cf.:

    E por o fut presentede Maximiien (Eul. 11, this lesson)
    'and for this she was brought before Maximian'

It became obsolete by the end of the 12th century, surviving in a few fixed epression and phrases only.

19. Negation

The most important negating element in Old French is the particle ne, nen. It precedes the (finite) verb, following the inherited pattern from Latin; cf.:

    ne s'en puet astenir (Al. 222, Lesson 3)
    'he cannot contain himself'
     
    ço ne volt il que sa mere le sacet (Al. 249, Lesson 3)
    'he does not want his mother to know'

The negating element often is reinforced by another element that itself generally has no negating value in origin, cf.:

· nouns (originally) referring to small elements or elements of little value, such as pas 'step', point 'point', goutte 'drop', mie 'crumb', rien '(some)thing', chose 'thing', and many others. Whereas ne tends to precede the finite verb, the nominal element follows; cf.:

    Rollant, ki ne l'otriet mie (CdR 194)
    'Roland, who does not appreciate it'

On the whole this type of negation is slightly stronger than negated clauses with just the element ne. This emphatic value eroded with time and some of the elements grammaticalized and came to be combined with ne to form the most common negating device in later French; cf. il ne mange pas 'he does not eat'.

· adjectives or pronominal elements, such as aucun 'some, someone', or nul 'no one, not any'; cf.:

    niule cose non la pouret omque pleier (Eul. 9, this lesson)
    'not one thing could ever make her yield'

· adverbs such as mais 'more, ever', onques 'ever', ja 'ever', gueres 'much' and others; cf.:

    ne ... onques 'never, not at all'
    ne ... gueres 'not much, not much longer'
    ne ... ja 'never'
    ne ... mais 'no longer, never again'
     
    unches mais hom tel ne vit ajustee (CdR 1461)
    'never before man saw such a battle'
20. Indefinite Article: Forms and Uses

In addition to definite articles, Romance languages from the earlist times have indefinte articles as well. The paradigm of un (from Latin unus 'one-Nom.' / unum 'one-Acc.) is as follows:

Declension of Indefinite Article

Indef. art.   Masculine   Feminine
Nom. Sg.   uns   une
Obl. Sg.   un   une
         
Nom. Pl.   un   unes
Obl. Pl.   uns   unes

The uses of plural un typically have collective value, referring to pairs or to elements that inherently are collective; cf.:

· Pairs:

    uns ganz   'a pair of gloves' (Be/r., Tristan 2006)
    Tristan unes forces aveit   'Tristan had scissors'

· Collective:

    uns degrez   'a staircase'

The occurrence of indefinite articles is rather limited in Old French, as several examples in the texts analyzed so far have shown:

    Ansembl'ot lui grant masse de ses humes (Al. 214, Lesson 3) 'together with him was a large group of men'
    bataille i ad (CdR 1791, Lesson 2) 'there is a battle'

· But:

    ad une spede li roveret tolir lo chief (Al. 22, this lesson)
    'he ordered her head to be cut off with a sword'