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Old French Online

Lesson 5

Brigitte L.M. Bauer and Jonathan Slocum

From the middle of the 12th century, novels emerged in medieval French literature that put women and love in the limelight. These texts were in a way the forerunners of those that represent l' amour courtois, 'courtly love'. While the hero in the Chanson de Geste primarily was a brave Christian warrior, he now is gallant as well and he fights for his dame rather than for God or his king. In early times the action in these novels was set in antiquity or in the Celtic world (e.g. Cornwall, Ireland, Wales, Armorica). These Celtic novels have strong mysterious and magical characteristics, present passion as fatal, and often focus on the world of King Arthur. The tradition comes to full bloom in the novels of Chrétien de Troyes (Lesson 6). Less refined were the novels of Tristan, which relate the dramatic story -- set in Britanny -- of Tristan and Iseut. The story presumably had its roots in early Celtic legends and made it to France because of contacts with the English.

Tristan was a knight at the court of Marc, king of Cornwall, who also was his uncle and had raised him. Tristan was the son of King Marc's sister and therefore held an important position from an Indo-European anthropological perspective. King Marc was one of the vassals of King Arthur.

Before the actual coup de foudre between Tristan and Iseut takes place, Tristan is sent out on various difficult missions, which he carries out with great success. At some point the king asks him to go to Ireland and bring Iseut, his (Marc's) bride, to his court. On board the ship on their way back to Cornwall, Tristan and Iseut by mistake drink a love potion that the king and Iseut were supposed to drink on the evening of their wedding. As a result Tristan and Iseut are caught in a passionate and overwhelming love that they cannot fight.

There are several texts that relate the story of Tristan and Iseut. Among the best known are the text by Béroul, and a more refined version by Thomas. The texts of both Béroul and Thomas are fragmentary, but Béroul's stories relate the early stages. Thanks to translations in other languages (German, Old Norse, English), we are able to reconstruct the entire story.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The text selected for this lesson is a passage from Béroul's Tristan and is dated around 1170 (# 142-175). After the marriage between Marc and Iseut, the affair between Tristan and Iseut continues despite treason, primitive life in a forest, reconciliation with king Marc, Tristan's marriage to another woman, and illness. Eventually Tristan, deceived by his wife, commits suicide, and Iseut dies on top of his body.

In this text Tristan and Iseut are secretly meeting in an orchard; but the king, who has been notified and suspects an illicit relation, is listening in. Tristan and Iseut are aware of his presence but do not show it. Tristan has just asked Iseut to intercede with the king on his behalf.

The text presents an example of spoken medieval French. It includes relatively many personal pronouns and hypothetical se contructions followed by conditionals.

Par foi, sire, grant tort avez,
Que de tel chose a moi parlez
Que de vos le mete a raison
Et de s'ire face pardon.

  • par foi -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of + noun; oblique singular <foi, fei> faith, honor -- sincerely
  • sire -- noun; nominative singular <seignor> lord -- lord
  • grant -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <grant> great, large, tall -- great
  • tort -- noun; oblique singular <tort> mistake -- a mistake
  • avez -- verb; second person plural present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- you make
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- to
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- about
  • tel -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <tel> such -- such
  • chose -- noun; oblique singular <chose, cose> thing, affair, creature -- matter
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • moi -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • parlez -- verb; second person plural present <parler> speak, talk -- talk
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- about
  • vos -- personal pronoun; second person plural direct object <vos> you -- you
  • le -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- him
  • mete a raison -- verb; first person singular subjunctive present <metre, mectre, mettre> put + preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on + noun; oblique singular <raison> reason, speech, word -- talk to
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- ...
  • s'ire -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular feminine <son> his + noun; oblique singular <ire> anger, distress -- his distress
  • face -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <faire> make -- he forgets
  • pardon -- noun; oblique singular <pardon> grace, permission -- ...

Je ne vuel pas encor morir,
Ne moi du tot en tot perir!
Il vos mescroit de moi forment,
Et j'en tendroie parlement?

  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- not
  • vuel -- verb; first person singular present <voloir> want -- do... want
  • pas -- negation; <pas> not -- ...
  • encor -- adverb; <encore, encor, uncore> still, yet -- yet
  • morir -- verb; infinitive <morir> kill, die -- die
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- nor
  • moi -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- ...
  • du tot en tot -- preposition; <de> of, from + definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the + noun; oblique singular <tot> whole + preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of + noun; oblique singular <tot> whole -- completely
  • perir -- verb; infinitive <perir> perish, destroy -- perish
  • il -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- he
  • vos -- personal pronoun; second person plural direct object <vos> you -- you
  • mescroit -- verb; third person singular present <mescroire> refuse to believe, suspect -- suspects
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- on... behalf
  • moi -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- my
  • forment -- adverb; <forment> greatly, very, very much -- strongly
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • j'en -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I + pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- I... about it
  • tendroie -- verb; first person singular conditional <tenir> hold, keep, seize, consider -- would have
  • parlement -- noun; oblique singular <parlement> conversation, word, meeting -- a conversation

Donc seroie je trop hardie.
Par foi, Tristan, n'en ferai mie,
Ne vos nu me devez requerre.

  • donc -- adverb; <donc> then, therefore -- therefore
  • seroie -- verb; first person singular conditional <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- would be
  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- it
  • trop -- adverb; <trop> too much, extremely, excessively -- too
  • hardie -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <hardi> bold, brave -- bold
  • par foi -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of + noun; oblique singular <foi, fei> faith, honor -- sincerely
  • Tristan -- proper name; nominative singular <Tristan> Tristan -- Tristan
  • n'en -- negation; <ne, nen> not + pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- not... it
  • ferai -- verb; first person singular future <faire> make -- I will do
  • mie -- negation; <mie> not -- ...
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- not
  • vos -- personal pronoun; second person plural nominative <vos> you -- you
  • nu -- negation; <ne, nen> not + personal pronoun; third person singular direct object <il> he -- ... it
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- from me
  • devez -- verb; second person plural imperative <devoir> have to -- should
  • requerre -- verb; infinitive <requerre> ask, beseech -- ask

Tote sui sole en ceste terre.
Il vos a fait chambres veer
Por moi: s'il or m'en ot parler,
Bien me porroit tenir por fole.

  • tote -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <tot> all, every, completely -- completely
  • sui -- verb; first person singular present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- I am
  • sole -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <sol> alone -- alone
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- in
  • ceste -- demonstrative; oblique singular feminine <cest, cist> this -- this
  • terre -- noun; oblique singular <terre> land, country, earth -- country
  • il -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- he
  • vos -- personal pronoun; second person plural indirect object <vos> you -- for you
  • a -- verb; third person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- has
  • fait -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <faire> make -- made
  • chambres -- noun; oblique plural <chambre> chamber, territory, royal apartment -- his private apartments
  • veer -- verb; infinitive <veer> refuse, forbid -- forbidden teritory
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- because of
  • moi -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • s'il -- conjunction; <se> if + personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- if he
  • or -- adverb; <or> now -- now
  • m'en -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I + pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- me... about it
  • ot -- verb; third person singular present <oir, odir> hear -- he hears
  • parler -- verb; infinitive <parler> speak, talk -- talk
  • bien -- adverb; <bien> well, many, much, really -- very well
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • porroit -- verb; third person singular conditional <pooir, poeir, poier> can, be able -- he could
  • tenir -- verb; infinitive <tenir> hold, keep, seize, consider -- consider
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- ...
  • fole -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <fol> crazy -- crazy

Par foi, ja n'en dirai parole;
Et si vos dirai une rien,
Si vuel que vos le saciés bien:
Së il vos pardounot, beau sire,
Par Deu son mautalent et s'ire,
J'en seroie joiose et lie.

  • par foi -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of + noun; oblique singular <foi, fei> faith, honor -- sincerely
  • ja n'en -- adverb; <ja> ever + negation; <ne, nen> not + pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- not... about it
  • dirai -- verb; first person singular future <dire> say, tell -- I will say
  • parole -- noun; oblique singular <parole> word, speech -- a word
  • et si -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and + conjunction; <si> yet -- but
  • vos -- personal pronoun; second person plural indirect object <vos> you -- you
  • dirai -- verb; first person singular future <dire> say, tell -- I will tell
  • une -- indefinite article; oblique singular feminine <un> a -- one
  • rien -- noun; oblique singular <rien, ren> thing, creature, person -- thing
  • si -- conjunction; <si> and, and thus -- and
  • vuel -- verb; first person singular present <voloir> want -- I want
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- ...
  • vos -- personal pronoun; second person plural nominative <vos> you -- you
  • le -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- this
  • saciés -- verb; second person plural subjunctive present <savoir> know -- to know
  • bien -- adverb; <bien> well, many, much, really -- very well
  • -- conjunction; <se> if -- if
  • il -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- he
  • vos -- personal pronoun; second person plural indirect object <vos> you -- you
  • pardounot -- verb; third person singular preterite <pardoner> forgive, pardon -- forgave
  • beau -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <bel> dear, beloved, handsome -- dear
  • sire -- noun; nominative singular <seignor> lord -- lord
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- through
  • Deu -- proper name; oblique singular <Dieu, Deu> God -- God
  • son -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular masculine <son> his -- his
  • mautalent -- noun; oblique singular <maltalent> anger -- anger
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • s'ire -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular feminine <son> his + noun; oblique singular <ire> anger, distress -- his distress
  • j'en -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I + pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- I... about it
  • seroie -- verb; first person singular conditional <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- would be
  • joiose -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <joieus> full of joy -- full of joy
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • lie -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <lié, liet> happy, joyful -- happy

S'or savoit ceste chevauchie,
Cel sai je bien que ja resort,
Tristan, n'avreie contre mort.

  • s'or -- conjunction; <si> if + adverb; <or> now -- if... now
  • savoit -- verb; third person singular imperfective <savoir> know -- he knew about
  • ceste -- demonstrative; oblique singular feminine <cest, cist> this -- this
  • chevauchie -- noun; oblique singular <chevauchie> expedition, ride -- meeting
  • cel -- demonstrative; oblique singular neuter <cil> that -- ...
  • sai -- verb; first person singular present <savoir> know -- know
  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • bien -- adverb; <bien> well, many, much, really -- well
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • ja -- adverb; <ja> ever -- never
  • resort -- noun; oblique singular <resort> restriction, remedy, defense -- any remedy
  • Tristan -- proper name; nominative singular <Tristan> Tristan -- Tristan
  • n'avreie -- negation; <ne, nen> not + verb; first person singular conditional <avoir, aveir> have, be -- I would have
  • contre -- preposition; <contre> against, compared with -- against
  • mort -- noun; oblique singular <mort> death -- death

Vois m'en imais ne prendrai some.
Grant poor ai quë aucun home
Ne vos ait ci veü venir.

  • vois m'en -- verb; first person singular present <aler> go + personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I + pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- I am leaving
  • imais -- conjunction; <mais, mes> but -- but
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- no
  • prendrai -- verb; first person singular future <prendre> take, take hold of, seize -- I will get
  • some -- noun; oblique singular <som, some> sleep -- sleep
  • grant -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <grant> great, large, tall -- great
  • poor -- noun; oblique singular <paor, peor> fear -- fear
  • ai -- verb; first person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- I have
  • quë -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • aucun -- indefinite adjective; nominative singular masculine <aucun> some -- some
  • home -- noun; nominative singular <home, ome> man -- man
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- ...
  • vos -- personal pronoun; second person plural direct object <vos> you -- you
  • ait -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- has
  • ci -- adverb; <ci> here -- here
  • veü -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <veoir> see -- seen
  • venir -- verb; infinitive <venir> come, go -- coming

S'un mot en puet li rois oïr
Que nos fuson ça asemblé,
Il me feroit ardoir en ré.
Ne seret pas mervelle grant.

  • s'un -- conjunction; <se> if + indefinite article; oblique singular masculine <un> a -- if... one
  • mot -- noun; oblique singular <mot> word -- word
  • en -- pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- ...
  • puet -- verb; third person singular present <pooir, poeir, poier> can, be able -- can
  • li -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • rois -- noun; nominative singular <roi> king -- king
  • oïr -- verb; infinitive <oir, odir> hear -- hear
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • nos -- personal pronoun; first person plural nominative <nos> we -- we
  • fuson -- verb; first person plural subjunctive imperfective <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- have
  • ça -- adverb; <ça, çai> here, hither -- here
  • asemblé -- verb; perfective participle nominative plural masculine <assembler, assanler> call together, assemble, meet -- met
  • il -- personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- he
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • feroit -- verb; third person singular conditional <faire> make -- would make
  • ardoir -- verb; infinitive <ardoir, ardre> burn -- burn
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- at
  • -- noun; oblique singular <ré, rei, rez> stake -- the stake
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- no
  • seret -- verb; third person singular conditional <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- it would be
  • pas -- negation; <pas> not -- ...
  • mervelle -- noun; nominative singular <merveille> what is surprising, wonder -- surprise
  • grant -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <grant> great, large, tall -- great

Mis cors trenble, poor ai grant.
De la poor qui or me prent,
Vois m'en, trop sui ci longuement."

  • mis -- possessive; first person singular nominative singular masculine <mon> my -- my
  • cors -- noun; nominative singular <cors> body -- body
  • trenble -- verb; third person singular present <trembler> tremble -- is trembling
  • poor -- noun; oblique singular <paor, peor> fear -- fear
  • ai -- verb; first person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- I have
  • grant -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <grant> great, large, tall -- great
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- from
  • la -- definite article; oblique singular feminine <li> the -- the
  • poor -- noun; oblique singular <paor, peor> fear -- fear
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> that -- which
  • or -- adverb; <or> now -- now
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • prent -- verb; third person singular present <prendre> take, take hold of, seize -- takes hold of
  • vois m'en -- verb; first person singular present <aler> go + personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I + pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- I am going away
  • trop -- adverb; <trop> too much, extremely, excessively -- too
  • sui -- verb; first person singular present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- I have been
  • ci -- adverb; <ci> here -- here
  • longuement -- adverb; <longement> long, for a long time -- long

Lesson Text

Par foi, sire, grant tort avez,
Que de tel chose a moi parlez
Que de vos le mete a raison
Et de s'ire face pardon.

Je ne vuel pas encor morir,
Ne moi du tot en tot perir!
Il vos mescroit de moi forment,
Et j'en tendroie parlement?

Donc seroie je trop hardie.
Par foi, Tristan, n'en ferai mie,
Ne vos nu me devez requerre.

Tote sui sole en ceste terre.
Il vos a fait chambres veer
Por moi: s'il or m'en ot parler,
Bien me porroit tenir por fole.

Par foi, ja n'en dirai parole;
Et si vos dirai une rien,
Si vuel que vos le saciés bien:
Së il vos pardounot, beau sire,
Par Deu son mautalent et s'ire,
J'en seroie joiose et lie.

S'or savoit ceste chevauchie,
Cel sai je bien que ja resort,
Tristan, n'avreie contre mort.

Vois m'en imais ne prendrai some.
Grant poor ai quë aucun home
Ne vos ait ci veü venir.

S'un mot en puet li rois oïr
Que nos fuson ça asemblé,
Il me feroit ardoir en ré.
Ne seret pas mervelle grant.

Mis cors trenble, poor ai grant.
De la poor qui or me prent,
Vois m'en, trop sui ci longuement."

Translation

Sincerely, lord, you make a great mistake,
To talk to me about such matter
That I talk to him about you
And that he forgets his distress.
I do not want yet to die,
Nor perish completely!
He suspects you strongly on my behalf,
And I would have a conversation about it?
Therefore it would be too bold
Sincerely, Tristan, I will not do it,
You should not ask it from me.
I am completely alone in this country.
He has made his private apartment forbidden territory for you
Because of me: if he now hears me talk about it,
He could very well consider me crazy.
Sincerely, I will not to say a word about it;
But I will tell you one thing,
And I want you to know this very well:
If he forgave you, dear lord,
Through God his anger and his distress,
I would be full of joy about it, and happy.
If he now knew about this meeting,
I know well, Tristan, that I would never
have any remedy against death.
I am leaving but I will get no sleep.
I have great fear that some man
Has seen you coming here.
If the king can hear one word
That we have met here,
He would make me burn at the stake.
It would be no great surprise.
My body is trembling, I have great fear.
From the fear, which takes hold of me now,
I am going away, I have been here too long.

Grammar

21. Possession

Possession in Old French noun phrases is expressed primarily by the oblique case, with or without a preposition:

· Without preposition:

    li Deo inimi (Eul. 3, Lesson 4) 'the enemies of God'    
    le rei gunfanuner (CdR 106, Lesson 1) 'the standard bearer of the king'    
    al tens Noë   (Al. 6) 'in the time of Noah'
    el ventre la baleine (Elie. 3607) 'in the stomach of the whale'    

· With preposition:

    la nef a cel saint home (Al. 197, Lesson 3)
    'the ship of that holy man'
     
    filie d'un noble Franc (Al. 40)
    '(the) daughter of a Frankish nobleman'
     
    fille ad un conpta de Rome (Al. 42)
    'the daughter of a count in Rome'

The distribution of these constructions depends on semantic and syntactic criteria. From a semantic perspective, the construction with de combines with all types of nouns, animate and non-animate. The preposition a / ad only combines with nouns that are animate, whereas the construction without preposition only occurs in combination with nouns that refer to humans or animals that behave like humans (cf. the whale above). The possessor most commonly is referred to by a noun that moreover, as a rule, has no or only a few complements; generally the noun is singular, cf.:

    la fille le rei   'the king's daughter'
    les armes vos peres   'the arms of your fathers'
    li filz son hoste   'the son of his host'
    la feste seint Michel   'the holiday of St. Michael'

The various syntactic relations underlying the noun - (preposition) - noun sequences (e.g. subjective vs. objective genitive 'the love of father' vs. 'the love for father') may affect the choice of the construction, but discussion of the details would go too far in the context of this course.

The sequence of elements is most commonly 'element in possession' + 'possessor', cf.:

    la feste seint Michel
    'the holiday of St. Michael'
    la nef a cel saint home (Al. 197, Lesson 3)
    'the ship of that holy man'
    la filie d'un noble Franc (Al. 40)
    'the daughter of a Frankish nobleman'

Yet the reverse order is attested, especially in formulaic expressions (e.g. la Dieu merci), in expressions including autrui (e.g. l'autrui joie 'the joy of another person') and in early texts (e.g. li Deo inimi Eul. 3). With time the sequence 'element in possession' + 'possessor' only spread, with the exception of a few lexicalized items. Among the prepositional expressions there are very few instances in which the possessor comes first.

22. The Future: Forms and Uses

In Lesson 2 it was explained that one of the important changes in the development of the verb system from Latin to Old French was the emergence of 'have' as an auxiliary. The compound past tenses of Old French illustrate this development. Less obvious is the use of the auxiliary 'have' in the forms of the future. These forms trace back to analytic Vulgar and Late Latin formations including an infinitive and a finite form of the verb habeo 'have', cf.:

    Latin       Old French
    cantare habeo 'sing-Inf. have-1st Sg.'   >   chanterai

With time the analytic Latin forms have become synthetic.

The Old French endings trace back to present tense forms (future) as well as imperfect tense forms (past future and conditional). The paradigms are as follows:

Future, Conjugation

    Future   Past Future
1st Sg.   chanterai   chanteroie
2nd Sg.   chanteras   chanteroies
3rd Sg.   chantera   chanteroit
         
1st Pl.   chanterons   chanterïons
        chanterïons
2nd Pl.   chanterez   chanterïez
3rd Pl.   chanteront   chanteroient

The future forms refer to actions that take place in the future. The forms in -roie typically refer to actions that may take place in the future -- likely or unlikely -- and therefore they often occur in hypothetical sentences introduced by se 'if'.

    de soe part vos voldreie preier (Cour. de Louis 516)
    'on his behalf I would like to ask you'
     
    së il vos pardounot ... j'en seroie joiose
    'if he forgave you ... I would be full of joy' (Be/r., Trist. 160; 162, this lesson)
23. Common Irregular Verbs: voloir, pooir, aler

Irregular Verb voloir

voloir   Present   Preterite   Subjunctive Pres.
1st Sg.   vue(i)l   vo(i)l   vue(i)lle
    vol   vos    
2nd Sg.   v(u)eus   volis   vue(i)lles
    viaus   vousis    
3rd Sg.   v(u)eut   vo(l)t   vue(i)lle
    viaut   vout    
             
1st Pl.   volons   volimes   voilliens
2nd Pl.   volez   volistes   voiliez
            vuelliez
3rd Pl.   vuelent   voldrent   vueillent
             
Imperfect   voloie        
Future   voudrai - vourrai        
Conditional   voudroie - vourroie        
Impf. subjunctive   vosisse - volisse        
Pf. Participle   volu        
Pres. Participle   volant - voillant - vueillant        

Irregular Verb pooir

pooir   Present   Preterite   Subjunctive Pres.
1st Sg.   puis   poi   puisse
             
2nd Sg.   poez   poüs   puisses
    puez   peüs    
3rd Sg.   puet   poutt   puisse
    peut   pot   puist
             
1st Pl.   poons   poümes   puissiens
    peümes   puissons    
2nd Pl.   poez   poüstes   puissiez
    peüstes        
3rd Pl.   poeent   po(u)rent   puissent
    pueent        
             
Imperfect   pooie        
Future   porrai        
Conditional   porroie        
Impf. subjunctive   poüsse - poïsse - peüsse        
Pf. Participle   poü - peü        
Pres. Participle   poant - puissant        

Irregular Verb aler

aler   Present   Preterite   Subjunctive Pres.
1st Sg.   vois   alai   voise
            aille, alge
2nd Sg.   vais       voises
    vas       ailles, alges
3rd Sg.   va(it)       voise, voist
    vet       aille, aut, alge
             
1st Pl.   allons       voisonss, voisiens
            aillens, algiens
            a(il)lons
2nd Pl.   allez       voisiez
            ailliez, algiez
3rd Pl.   vont       voisent
            aillent, algent
             
Imperfect   aloie        
Future   irai        
Conditional   iroie        
Pf. Participle   alé        
Pres. Participle   alant        
Imperative   va(s) - alez - alons        
24. Adjectives: Comparative and Superlative

Adjectives in Old French are marked for case, gender, and number. In addition the adjectival paradigm has analytic comparative forms, although a few adjectives still have synthetic formations.

The most widespread formation is analytic and includes an adverb followed by the adjective proper, cf.:

Comparative, Analytic formation

    Type of comparative   Particle   Adjective
    comparative of superiority   plus 'more'   + adjective
    comparative of inferiority   moins 'less'   + adjective
    comparative of equality   si 'as'   + adjective
        aussi 'as'   + adjective
        tant 'as'   + adjective
        other adverbs    

Among these forms, the comparative of superiority is by far the most common form.

Yet a few synthetic comparatives from Latin survive in Old French; these are very common, cf.:

Comparative, Synthetic formations

    Adjective   Comparative   Comparative
    grant 'big, large'   graindre (Nom.) /   graignor (Obl.)
            'bigger, larger'
    grant   maire (Nom.) /   maior (Obl.)
            'bigger, larger'
    petit 'small'   mendre (Nom.) /   menor (Obl.)
    bon 'good'   mieudre (Nom.) /   meillor (Obl.)
    mal 'bad'   pire (Nom.) /   peior (Obl.)
            'worse'

The following series of adjectives have a synthetic comparative form only in the oblique case; these forms typically occur in the early texts:

Comparative, Synthetic formations

    Adjective       Comp. Obl.    
    fort   'strong'   forçor   'stronger'
    alt   'high'   alçor   'higher'
    bel   'beautiful'   belasor (9th c.)   'more beautiful'
            belior (12th c.)    
    sordois   'worse, dirty'   sordoior   'worse, inferior'
    gent   'noble'   gençor   'more noble'

The declension of the comparative forms follows that of the third class of nouns, cf.:

Synthetic Comparative, Declension (masculine)

Masculine   Singular   Plural
Nom.   graindre   graignor
Obl.   graignor   graignors

Synthetic Comparative, Declension (feminine)

Feminine   Singular   Plural
Nom.   graindre   graignors
Obl.   graignor   graignors

Superlatives generally are not marked, and the interpretation therefore depends on the context, cf.:

    un des porz ki plus est pres de Rome (Al. 197, Lesson 3)
    'one of the ports that is closest to Rome'

Very rarely one may find a superlative that is formally marked: a definite article then combines with the comparative adjective proper (synthetic or analytic). These formations spread in later times, cf.:

    de toutes autres la gençor (Ben.)
    'of all others the most noble'

Yet if there is no analytic formation of superlatives, there are a number of synthetic formations that convey so-called absolute superlative value:

· Several synthetic Latin superlatives have survived in Old French, cf.: pesme 'very bad' (< La. pessimum), merme 'very small'(< minimum), malisme 'very bad', proismes 'very close'(< La. proximum), and others.

· There are learned formations in -isme, cf.:

Superlatives in -isme

    Adjective   Superlative    
    fort   fortisme   'very strong'
    alt   altisme   'very high'
    grant   grandisme   'very big'
    saint   saintisme   'very holy'

· Finally, there is a range of adverbs that convey superlative value in combination with adjectives 'very, most', cf.: molt, tres, mais, tant, mut par and others, e.g.:

    il est mult irascut (CdR 777) 'he is very angry'
    mult grant venjance (CdR 1459) 'a very rude revenge'
25. Adjectives: Comparison

Whereas Latin had two types of comparison, Old French only has an analytic construction. In Latin the comparison was either a case construction or a so-called particle construction.

In the case construction the ablative marks the element that is being compared, cf.:

    luce   clarior
    'light-Abl.   brighter' > 'brighter than light'

In the particle construction the particle -- quam -- has that function:

    lingua   quam   manu   promptior
    tongue   than   hand   ready-Comp.' >
    'prompter in words than in action'

With the loss of synthetic froms in Latin -- case, comparative, verb forms -- the comparison in Old French has become analytic and includes either a particle or a preposition.

The particle construction (of which the Latin quam construction was a forerunner) is the most widespread type of comparison, cf.:

    plus est isnels que esprever (CdR 1535)
    'he is quicker than a sparrow hawk'

Constructions with a preposition--which trace back to the original case construction in Latin-- typically include a pronominal element or a number, cf.:

    meillor vassal n'out en la curt de lui (CdR 776)
    'there was no better knight in the court than he'
     
    plus de .IIII. milliers
    'more than four thousand'

The prepositional construction is also attested with a nominal referent when it functions simply as a subject, cf.:

    maines riches de mon pere (Palefroi 407)
    'less rich than my father'

Comparison constructions often include a negation, cf.:

    plus est isnels que n'est oisel ki volet (CdR 1616)
    'he is quicker than a bird that flies'

With time the particle construction spread and came to be used exclusively in comparisons, with the exception of numbers (e.g. modern French il y a plus de vingt étudiants 'there are more than twenty students'). (See Italian for a much more common use of the prepositional construction today).