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Old French Online

Lesson 8

Brigitte L.M. Bauer and Jonathan Slocum

During the 12th century new techniques in agriculture were developed and, as a result, crop harvests increased dramatically. Consequently the population was better nourished, more productive, and achieved greater wealth; commerce could expand. Towns grew, becoming more important centers of regional and national commercial activity and craftsmanship. In the 13th century, with the foundation of universities, towns became centers of academic activity as well. In addition to the Church and the Aristocracy, a third non-peasant class emerged, the bourgeoisie. Members of this class not only played their own roles within medieval society, but also were organized in (professional) institutions, and developed a cultural life of their own reflected in literature and theater, the littérature bourgeoise.

The literary audience was broader and less refined than that of the littérature courtoise. The texts, mainly narratives in a rather loose style, were more openly joyful. Narrative texts can be divided into religious works (e.g. Les Miracles de la Vierge) and comic texts featuring animals. There was also a growing production of plays, religious and comic (see Lesson 9). The animal texts are either short narratives that fit the long-lasting tradition of fables (fabliaux), or longer texts, among them the Roman de Renart. The fabliaux are meant to make people laugh, but they also present wise lessons, based on critical observations of mankind. The characters are animals, presenting the characteristics of their species in combination with typically human behavior. In fact, the fabliaux present a disguised form of social satire and criticism. All groups in society are represented. The texts also offer a lively description of everyday medieval life and society.

The Roman de Renart (late 12th and early 13th centuries) is a series of poems relating the adventures of the fox Renart.

The fabliaux continue a long tradition that is rooted in the East (India), and came to Greece (e.g. Aesop) and Rome (e.g. Phaedrus). A manuscript of the Latin fables allegedly of Phaedrus made it into the Middle Ages and was translated around 1180 by the well-known author Marie de France, with the title Isopet. In the 13th century the word Isopet refers to any collection of fables.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The text for this lesson is the fable Du Renart et du Corbet (Isopet 1.15). Isopet I is a 13th century collection of fables by an unknown author. The fable selected here is part of a long tradition and, with La Fontaine in the 17th century, became one of the best known stories in French literature. It is a story of animals criticizing man's greed for glory. The main characters are the Raven, who is vain, and the Fox, who is the incarnation of slyness and deception. Another character is mentioned, Hersen, who in the Roman de Renart is the wife of the wolf Ysengrin, Renart's opponent. Hersen spends her life spinning and represents simple life without claims to fame.

Sire Tiercelin, le Corbiau,
Qui cuide estre avenant et biau,
Tenoit en son bech un fromage.

  • sire -- noun; nominative singular <seignor> lord -- sir
  • Tiercelin -- proper name; nominative singular <Tiercelin> Tiercelin -- Tiercelin
  • le -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • Corbiau -- proper name; nominative singular <Corbiau> Raven -- Raven
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • cuide -- verb; third person singular present <cuidier> think -- thinks
  • estre -- verb; infinitive <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- he is
  • avenant -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <avenant> beautiful, attractive -- attractive
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • biau -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <bel> dear, beloved, handsome -- handsome
  • tenoit -- verb; third person singular imperfective <tenir> hold, keep, seize, consider -- had
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- in
  • son -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular masculine <son> his -- his
  • bech -- noun; oblique singular <bec> beak -- beak
  • un -- indefinite article; oblique singular masculine <un> a -- a
  • fromage -- noun; oblique singular <fromage> cheese -- cheese

Renart, qui a fait maint dommaige,
Par mi le bois chassant couroit
Com cil qui de grant fain mouroit.

  • Renart -- proper name; nominative singular <Renart> Renart -- Renart
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • a -- verb; third person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- has
  • fait -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <faire> make -- done
  • maint -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <maint> many, many a -- much
  • dommaige -- noun; oblique singular <damage> trouble, harm -- harm
  • par mi -- preposition; <parmi, par mi> through, in the middle -- through
  • le -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • bois -- noun; oblique singular <bos, bois> forest, tree -- forest
  • chassant -- verb; present participle nominative singular masculine <chasser> hunt -- hunting
  • couroit -- verb; third person singular imperfective <corre> run -- ran
  • com -- conjunction; <com, comme> as -- like
  • cil -- demonstrative; nominative singular masculine <cil> that -- someone
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- of
  • grant -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <grant> great, large, tall -- great
  • fain -- noun; oblique singular <faim> hunger, desire -- hunger
  • mouroit -- verb; third person singular imperfective <morir> kill, die -- would die

Le fromaige li vit tenir;
Bien scet qu'il n'i puet avenir
Se n'est par art et par engin.

  • le -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • fromaige -- noun; oblique singular <fromage> cheese -- cheese
  • li -- personal pronoun; third person singular indirect object masculine <il> he -- him
  • vit -- verb; third person singular preterite <veoir> see -- he saw
  • tenir -- verb; infinitive <tenir> hold, keep, seize, consider -- hold
  • bien -- adverb; <bien> well, many, much, really -- well
  • scet -- verb; third person singular present <savoir> know -- he knows
  • qu'il -- conjunction; <que> that + personal pronoun; third person singular nominative masculine <il> he -- that he
  • n'i -- negation; <ne, nen> not + particle; <i> there -- not... to it
  • puet -- verb; third person singular present <pooir, poeir, poier> can, be able -- can
  • avenir -- verb; infinitive <avenir> arrive, happen -- get
  • se n'est -- conjunction; <se> if + negation; <ne, nen> not + verb; third person singular present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- unless
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- by
  • art -- noun; oblique singular <art> liberal art, craft -- craft
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- ...
  • engin -- noun; oblique singular <engin, engien> skill, cheating -- cheating

"Ha," dit Renart, "biau Tiercelin,
Qui estes enparentés,
Dommaiges iert que ne chantés
Aussi bien com fist vostre pere.

  • ha -- interjection; <ha> ha, hello -- ha
  • dit -- verb; third person singular present <dire> say, tell -- says
  • Renart -- proper name; nominative singular <Renart> Renart -- Renart
  • biau -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <bel> dear, beloved, handsome -- dear
  • Tiercelin -- proper name; nominative singular <Tiercelin> Tiercelin -- Tiercelin
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- you who
  • estes -- verb; second person plural present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- are
  • enparentés -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <emparenté> of noble lineage -- of noble lineage
  • dommaiges -- noun; nominative singular <damage> trouble, harm -- a pity
  • iert -- verb; third person singular imperfective <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- it is
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- not
  • chantés -- verb; second person singular present <chanter> sing -- you do sing
  • aussi -- adverb; <aussi> also, likewise -- as
  • bien -- adverb; <bien> well, many, much, really -- well
  • com -- conjunction; <com, comme> as -- as
  • fist -- verb; third person singular preterite <faire> make -- did
  • vostre -- possessive; second person plural nominative singular masculine <vostre> your -- your
  • pere -- noun; nominative singular <pere> father -- father

Se aussi chantissiez, par saint Pere,
Je cuit qu'en tout le bois n'eüst
Oisel qui tant a tous pleüst."

  • se -- conjunction; <se> if -- if
  • aussi -- adverb; <aussi> also, likewise -- as well
  • chantissiez -- verb; second person plural subjunctive imperfective <chanter> sing -- you sang
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- by
  • saint -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <saint> holy -- St.
  • Pere -- noun; oblique singular <Perre> Peter -- Peter
  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • cuit -- verb; first person singular present <cuidier> think -- think
  • qu'en -- conjunction; <que> that + preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- that in
  • tout -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <tot> all, every, completely -- entire
  • le -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • bois -- noun; oblique singular <bos, bois> forest, tree -- forest
  • n'eüst -- negation; <ne, nen> not + verb; third person singular subjunctive imperfective <avoir, aveir> have, be -- there would be no
  • oisel -- noun; oblique singular <oisel> bird -- bird
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • tant -- adverb; <tant> so, so much -- that much
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- ...
  • tous -- adjective; oblique plural masculine <tot> all, every, completely -- all
  • pleüst -- verb; third person singular subjunctive imperfective <plaire> please -- pleases

Le Corbiau, qui pas n'aperçoit
Que Renart l'engingne et deçoit,
Et qui par son chant plaire cuide,
En chanter met si grant estude
Que son fromage li cheï.

  • le -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • Corbiau -- proper name; nominative singular <Corbiau> Raven -- Raven
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • pas -- negation; <pas> not -- ...
  • n'aperçoit -- negation; <ne, nen> not + verb; third person singular present <apercevoir> notice, know -- does not notice
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • Renart -- proper name; nominative singular <Renart> Renart -- Renart
  • l'engingne -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he + verb; third person singular present <engignier, engeignier> invent, seduce, deceive -- deceives him
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • deçoit -- verb; third person singular present <deçoivre> deceive, mislead -- misleads
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- with
  • son -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular masculine <son> his -- his
  • chant -- noun; oblique singular <chant> song, melody -- singing
  • plaire -- verb; infinitive <plaire> please -- he will please
  • cuide -- verb; third person singular present <cuidier> think -- thinks
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- in
  • chanter -- verb; infinitive <chanter> sing -- his singing
  • met -- verb; third person singular present <metre, mectre, mettre> put -- puts
  • si -- adverb; <si> thus, that way, that much -- such
  • grant -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <grant> great, large, tall -- great
  • estude -- noun; oblique singular <estude, estudie> study, zeal -- zeal
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • son -- possessive; third person singular nominative singular masculine <son> his -- his
  • fromage -- noun; nominative singular <fromage> cheese -- cheese
  • li -- personal pronoun; third person singular indirect object masculine <il> he -- ...
  • cheï -- verb; third person singular preterite <cheoir, chaeir> fall -- fell

Renart ne fu pas esbaï,
Qui son chant mout petit prisa;
Le fromaige tantost pris a,
Si le menja trestout Renart;
Oncques Tiercelin n'i ot part.

  • Renart -- proper name; nominative singular <Renart> Renart -- Renart
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- not
  • fu -- verb; third person singular preterite <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- was
  • pas -- negation; <pas> not -- ...
  • esbaï -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <esbai> frightened, troubled, surprised -- surprised
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • son -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular masculine <son> his -- his
  • chant -- noun; oblique singular <chant> song, melody -- singing
  • mout -- adverb, adjective; <molt, mult, mout> many, much, very -- very
  • petit -- adjective, adverb; <petit> small, little -- little
  • prisa -- verb; third person singular preterite <prisier, proisier> esteem, appreciate -- appreciated
  • le -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • fromaige -- noun; oblique singular <fromage> cheese -- cheese
  • tantost -- adverb; <tantost> immediately -- immediately
  • pris -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <prendre> take, take hold of, seize -- taken
  • a -- verb; third person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- has
  • si -- conjunction; <si> and, and thus -- and
  • le -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- it
  • menja -- verb; third person singular preterite <mangier, manjuer> eat -- ate
  • trestout -- reinforcing element; <tres>... + adjective; oblique singular masculine <tot> all, every, completely -- completely
  • Renart -- proper name; nominative singular <Renart> Renart -- Renart
  • oncques -- adverb; <onques> once, ever -- ...
  • Tiercelin -- proper name; nominative singular <Tiercelin> Tiercelin -- Tiercelin
  • n'i -- negation; <ne, nen> not + particle; <i> there -- never... of it
  • ot -- verb; third person singular preterite <avoir, aveir> have, be -- had
  • part -- noun; oblique singular <part> part, portion -- a portion

Mout en fu dolent le Corbiau,
Et de honte li croist son diau.

  • mout -- adverb, adjective; <molt, mult, mout> many, much, very -- very
  • en -- pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- about it
  • fu -- verb; third person singular preterite <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- was
  • dolent -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <dolent> sorrowful, wetched -- sorry
  • le -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • Corbiau -- proper name; nominative singular <Corbiau> Raven -- Raven
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- because of
  • honte -- noun; oblique singular <honte> shame, disgrace -- shame
  • li -- personal pronoun; third person singular indirect object masculine <il> he -- ...
  • croist -- verb; third person singular present <croistre, creistre> grow -- increases
  • son -- possessive; third person singular nominative singular masculine <son> his -- his
  • diau -- noun; nominative singular <dol, duel> suffering, grief -- grief

La moralité :
Qui vaine gloire quiert et chace,
Sa perte et sa honte pourchace.
Fausse honneur, ce poués entendre,
Maint grand anuy souvent engendre.

  • la -- definite article; nominative singular feminine <li> the -- the
  • moralité -- noun; nominative singular <moralité> character, lesson -- lesson
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- whoever
  • vaine -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <vain> weak, empty -- vain
  • gloire -- noun; oblique singular <gloire> glory -- glory
  • quiert -- verb; third person singular present <quere, querre> look for, want, ask -- looks for
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • chace -- verb; third person singular present <chasser> hunt -- hunts for
  • sa -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular feminine <son> his -- his
  • perte -- noun; oblique singular <perte> fall, destruction -- fall
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • sa -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular feminine <son> his -- his
  • honte -- noun; oblique singular <honte> shame, disgrace -- disgrace
  • pourchace -- verb; third person singular present <porchacier> seek, pursue -- pursues
  • fausse -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <fals, faus> false -- false
  • honneur -- noun; nominative singular <onor, enor, anor> honor, respect, esteem, fief -- honor
  • ce -- demonstrative; oblique singular neuter <cil> that -- this
  • poués -- verb; second person singular present <pooir, poeir, poier> can, be able -- you can
  • entendre -- verb; infinitive <entendre> try, pay attention, understand, hear -- understand
  • maint -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <maint> many, many a -- very
  • grand -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <grant> great, large, tall -- great
  • anuy -- noun; oblique singular <enoi, enui> torment, pain -- pain
  • souvent -- adverb; <sovent> frequently, often -- often
  • engendre -- verb; third person singular present <engeindre, engendrer> cause -- causes

Les fols qui quierent vainne gloire
Sieulent assés de honte boire;
Gloire les met hors de leur sen.

  • les -- definite article; nominative plural masculine <li> the -- the
  • fols -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <fol> crazy -- crazy people
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • quierent -- verb; third person plural present <quere, querre> look for, want, ask -- pursue
  • vainne -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <vain> weak, empty -- vain
  • gloire -- noun; oblique singular <gloire> glory -- glory
  • sieulent -- verb; third person plural present <soloir> be accustomed -- are used to
  • assés -- adverb; <asez, assés> many, much, very well -- much
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- ...
  • honte -- noun; oblique singular <honte> shame, disgrace -- disgrace
  • boire -- verb; infinitive <bevre> drink -- drinking
  • gloire -- noun; nominative singular <gloire> glory -- glory
  • les -- personal pronoun; third person plural direct object masculine <il> they -- them
  • met -- verb; third person singular present <metre, mectre, mettre> put -- puts
  • hors de -- preposition; <hors> out, out of, except + preposition; <de> of, from -- out of
  • leur -- possessive; third person plural oblique singular masculine <lor, leur> their -- their
  • sen -- noun; oblique singular <sen, sens> direction, sense -- senses

Plus saige tien dame Hersen
Qui viut sa coloingne filer;
Pour ce ne la doi aviler.
Qui veut estre trop apparent,
De faintise n'avra garent.

  • plus -- adverb; <plus> more -- ...
  • saige -- adjective; oblique singular feminine <saige, saive> clever, educated -- wiser
  • tien -- verb; first person singular present <tenir> hold, keep, seize, consider -- I consider
  • dame -- noun; oblique singular <dame> lady, dame -- lady
  • Hersen -- proper name; oblique singular <Hersen> Hersen -- Hersen # Hersen is the wife of the wolf Ysengrinus in the Roman de Renart
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • viut -- verb; third person singular present <voloir> want -- wants
  • sa -- possessive; third person singular oblique singular feminine <son> his -- her
  • coloingne -- noun; oblique singular <quenoille, queloigne> distaff -- distaff
  • filer -- verb; infinitive <filer> spin -- to draw threat from
  • pour -- preposition; <por> for -- for
  • ce -- demonstrative; oblique singular neuter <cil> that -- this reason
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- not
  • la -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object feminine <il> he -- her
  • doi -- verb; first person singular present <devoir> have to -- I do... have to
  • aviler -- verb; infinitive <aviler> abandon, disgrace -- disgrace
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- whoever
  • veut -- verb; third person singular present <voloir> want -- wants
  • estre -- verb; infinitive <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- to be
  • trop -- adverb; <trop> too much, extremely, excessively -- too
  • apparent -- adjective; nominative singular <aparant> visible -- visible
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- from
  • faintise -- noun; oblique singular <feintise> pretense, deceit -- deceit
  • n'avra -- negation; <ne, nen> not + verb; third person singular future <avoir, aveir> have, be -- will have no
  • garent -- noun; oblique singular <garant, garent> protection, defense -- protection

Lesson Text

Sire Tiercelin, le Corbiau,
Qui cuide estre avenant et biau,
Tenoit en son bech un fromage.


Renart, qui a fait maint dommaige,
Par mi le bois chassant couroit
Com cil qui de grant fain mouroit.


Le fromaige li vit tenir;
Bien scet qu'il n'i puet avenir
Se n'est par art et par engin.


"Ha," dit Renart, "biau Tiercelin,
Qui estes enparentés,
Dommaiges iert que ne chantés
Aussi bien com fist vostre pere.


Se aussi chantissiez, par saint Pere,
Je cuit qu'en tout le bois n'eüst
Oisel qui tant a tous pleüst."


Le Corbiau, qui pas n'aperçoit
Que Renart l'engingne et deçoit,
Et qui par son chant plaire cuide,
En chanter met si grant estude
Que son fromage li cheï.


Renart ne fu pas esbaï,
Qui son chant mout petit prisa;
Le fromaige tantost pris a,
Si le menja trestout Renart;
Oncques Tiercelin n'i ot part.


Mout en fu dolent le Corbiau,
Et de honte li croist son diau.


La moralité :
Qui vaine gloire quiert et chace,
Sa perte et sa honte pourchace.
Fausse honneur, ce poués entendre,
Maint grand anuy souvent engendre.


Les fols qui quierent vainne gloire
Sieulent assés de honte boire;
Gloire les met hors de leur sen.


Plus saige tien dame Hersen
Qui viut sa coloingne filer;
Pour ce ne la doi aviler.
Qui veut estre trop apparent,
De faintise n'avra garent.

Translation

Sir Tiercelin, the Raven,
Who thinks he is attractive and handsome,
Had a cheese in his beak
Renart, who has done much harm,
Ran through the forest hunting
Like someone who would die of great hunger.
He saw him hold the cheese;
He knows well that he cannot get to it
Unless by craft and cheating.
"Ha," says Renart, "dear Tiercelin,
You who are of noble lineage,
It is a pity that you do not sing
As well as did your father.
If you sang as well, by St Peter,
I think that there would be no bird
In the entire forest who would please all that much."
The Raven, who does not notice
That Renart deceives and misleads him,
And who thinks that he will please with his singing,
Puts such great zeal in his singing
That his cheese fell.
Renart was not surprised,
Who appreciated his singing very little;
Renart has taken the cheese immediately,
And ate it completely
Tiercelin never had a portion of it.
The Raven was very sorry about it,
And his grief increases because of shame.
The lesson:
Whoever looks and hunts for vain glory,
Pursues his fall and his disgrace.
False honor, this you can understand,
Often causes very great pain.
The crazy people who pursue vain glory
Are used to drinking much disgrace;
Glory puts them out of their senses.
I consider lady Hersen wiser
Who wants to draw threat from her distaff;
And for that reason I do not have to disgrace her.
Whoever wants to be too visible,
Will have no protection from deceit.

Grammar

36. Passive

While Latin had a fully developed passive paradigm -- an innovation, from an Indo-European perspective -- Old French had analytic forms to express passive voice, cf.:

    e por o fut presentede Maximiien (Eul. 11, Lesson 4)
    'and for this reason she was brought before Maximian'
     
    furent desconfit (Conq. 345, Lesson 7)
    'they were defeated'

The passive was not a common structure in Old French, as the texts analyzed in this course illustrate: so far only three passive constructions have been attested.

Generally the agent -- if expressed at all -- is referred to by a prepositional phrase introduced by de, cf.:

    purent petit plaint de la gent (Conq. 345, Lesson 7)
    'they were little mourned by the people'

The prepositions par and a are found as well in this function, albeit not very frequently.

37. Reflexive or Pronominal Verbs

Old French has many more reflexive -- or rather pronominal -- verbs than today's language. That is because many intransitive verbs took the pronominal form, referring to an action that does not involve anything or anyone outside the subject itself, cf.:

    se craindre   'fear
    se demorer   'remain'
    se dormir   'to sleep'
    se feindre   'feign'
    se pasmer   'faint'
    se douter   'to be afraid'
    se morir   'to die'
    se perir   'to perish'
    se monter   'ascend'
    se partir   'leave'
    s'apoier   'learn'

Several of these verbs exist in non-proniminal form as well, cf. for example demorer 'remain', monter 'ascend, mount', feindre 'behave in a cowardly way', perir 'perish', partir 'leave', morir 'die'.

Not all pronominal verbs of today go back to a reflexive form in the Middle Ages:

    Li reis est par matin levet (CdR 163)
    'the king has gotten up early'

Modern French has the pronominal se lever in this use, cf.:

    le roi s'est levé tôt

In compound tenses the auxiliary is estre, although instances with avoir are attested as well, cf.:

· with auxiliary estre:

    sur l'erbe verte s'i est culchet (CdR 2358, Lesson 2)
    'there he has lain down on the green grass'

· with auxiliary avoir:

    il s'a vestu
    'he has put his clothes on'

For practical reasons, pronominal verbs have not all been identified in the glosses of this course as a separate category. The pronominal element has been identified as a pronoun, with the appropriate case indication, or the verb has been given as se + infinitive (e.g. se pasmer).

38. Nominal Forms of the Verb

Old French has several so-called nominal forms of the verb: while these forms are part of a given verbal paradigm, they express nominal characteristics, such as gender, case, and number, and assume nominal functions. In Old French, the nominal forms of the verb include the perfective participle, the present participle, the gerund, and the infinitive.

· the perfective participle is based on the perfective stem, cf. for example:

    chanter   chantet
    fenir   fenit
    partir   parti
    corre   coru
    faire   fait
    venir   venu
    metre   mis

· the present participle is based on the present stem, cf. for example:

    chanter   chantant
    finir   fenissant
    partir   partant
    corre   corant
    faire   fesant / faisant
    venir   venant
    metre   met(t)ant

Formally the declension of present participles follows the patterns of class III adjectives, cf.:

Declension of the Present Participle

    Masculine   Feminine
Nom. Sg.   chantanz   chantant / chantanz
Obl. Sg.   chantant   chantant
         
Nom. Pl.   chantant   chantanz
Obl. Pl.   chantanz   chantanz

· gerunds are formally identical to present participles, but in contrast to these forms, gerunds are invariable.

· infinitives, e.g. chanter 'sing', fenir 'end', partir 'leave', remanoir 'stay', corre 'run'. Infinitives may convey case (see Grammar Point 39) as expressed in the definite article and the case ending.

Declension of the Infinitive

Nom. Sg.   li chanters
Obl. Sg.   le chanter

The use of a preposition could lead to article enclisis, e.g. du doner 'of the fact of giving'.

39. Nominal Forms of the Verb: Uses

39.1. The infinitive in Old French may function as a noun assuming the function of subject, direct object, or complement in a prepositional phrase, cf.:

· subject:

    tencier est laide chose (Theb. 3924)
    'quarreling is no good'

· object:

    doubtant le retourner de son adversaire (CNN 52.118)
    'afraid of his ennemy's return'

· complement of preposition:

    se seigne a l'entrer el champ (Art. 102.13)
    'he crosses himself when he enterd the battlefield'
     
    en chanter met si grant estude (Isop. 1.15; this lesson)
    'he puts such great zeal in his singing'

The combining of a preposition + (determiner) + infinitive generally conveys temporal or causal value, manner, means, for example:

· temporal value:

    se seigne a l'entrer el chanp (Art. 102.13)
    'he crosses himself when he enters the battlefield'
     
    au redrecier
    'at his getting up'

· expressing manner:

    par nos passage paier
    'by paying our crossing'

Infinitive used as a nominal complement, cf.:

    tens est del herberger (CdR 2482)
    'it is time to encamp'

The nominal characteristics of the infinitive are manifest not only in its combining with a definite article, but also in case endings (for forms, see Grammar Point 38), cf.:

    (li) parlers 'the fact of talking'

For example:

    li corners ne nos avreit mester (CdR 1742)
    'blowing the horn would not be of help to us'

Determiners other than definite articles combine with the infinitive as well, cf.:

    jusq'au mien partir
    'until my leaving, until my departure'

Direct objects of infinitives may take either the form of an accusative (verbal syntax) or a genitive (nominal syntax), cf.:

    a l'ouvrir la chambre (CNN 279.55)
    'at the opening of the room'
     
    li porters dou rainsel
    'the fact of carrying the small branch'

The accusative in this context reflects verbal syntax, showing that the infinitive is considered a fully verbal element. The genitive reflects nominal syntax, showing that the infinitive is considered a nominal element.

Nominal uses of the infinitive survived until the 16th century; today's language has several fossilized forms, cf. le dîner, le déjeuner 'lunch', le devoir 'task', and others.

39.2. The forms in -ant in Old French functioned as present participles and as gerunds, but the distinction between both types of use is not always clear. The form in -ant is commonly attested in prepositional phrases, expressing adverbial value. The phrase may include a possessive:

    a lor vivant   'in their lifetime'
    en son dormant   'during his sleep'

The prepositional phrase may also include a noun conveying an underlying direct object or subject, cf.:

· subject:

    devant midi sonnant (R. Cambr. 8399)
    'before noon'
     
    al coc cantant (Brut. 995)
    'at cockcrow'

· direct object:

    a la porte ouvrant
    'at the opening of the door'
     
    eust grant peur de la teste perdant
    'he was afraid he would lose his head'

Forms in -ant and infinitives may show overlap in some of the prepositional uses, cf.:

    par mes armes portant   par noz testes trancher
    'by carrying my arms'   'by cutting off our heads'
         
    en mon dormant vi une vision   jusqu'au mien partir
    'I had a vision during my sleep'   'until my departure'

By contrast, forms in -ant alone combine with a finite form of the verb to indicate progressive action or to specify the circumstances in which the action conveyed by the main verb is carried out, cf.:

    que Carles diet ... qu'il fut mort cunquerant (CdR 2362-2363)
    'that Charles will say that he died a conqueror'
     
    desuz un pin i est alet curant (CdR 2357, Lesson 2)
    'he has gone under a tree running'

Forms in -ant in combination with forms of the verb aler or estre specifically convey action in progress, cf.:

    il est as porz passant (CdR 1767)
    'he passes by the ports'
40. Absolute Constructions

Absolute constructions in Old French are residues of a much wider (occurrence and use) phenomenon in earlier times. An absolute construction is a combination of a noun and a participle; both elements agree in number, case and gender and are syntactically completley independent from the other elements in the clause. The noun typically conveys the underlying subject or the direct object of the participle. Latin absolutes typically had the ablative form and they conveyed a wide range of meanings, such as temporal, causal, or conditional value. Cf.:

    armis   acceptis   Crassus...   (Caes., DBG 3.23)
    weapons-Abl.   accept-Pf.Part.Abl.pl.   Crassus-Nom.    
    'having accepted the weapons, Crassus... '

These constructions survive in Old French--mostly in the oblique case--but their use is rather limited. They often include nouns referring to clothes, bodyparts, and general equipment. They are slightly fossilized and descriptive, cf.:

    juntes ses mains est alet a sa fin (CdR 2392)
    'his hands joined he went to his death'

Their fossilized nature is especially manifest in fixed expressions, such as helmes laciez 'helmets fastened', espee çainte 'sword girded', and others.