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Old French Online

Lesson 9

Brigitte L.M. Bauer and Jonathan Slocum

The littérature bourgeoise (see Lesson 8) also incorporated many plays, either comic or religious. Theater has its roots in early religious ceremonies. From the 10th century, the liturgy of important Christian holidays (e.g. Christmas) came to include a dramatic representation of the events that were celebrated. Persons in special costumes would represent characters in the holy stories. Gradually, these characters began to exchange sentences and communicate with one another; dialogues became longer, and the sets more sophisticated. In the 12th century, several scenes came to be combined on one stage. When the texts began to include too many non-religious aspects, the stage left the confines of the church and instead was set up outside, in front of the church. French was used increasingly, actors were no longer recruited among priests and other religious figures alone, and the topics became more diverse. Yet the topics within this setting remained religious; they addressed the history of mankind (starting at the Garden of Eden, Le Jeu d'Adam), focused on saints (Le jeu de St. Nicolas), or related stories featuring the Virgin Mary (Le miracle de Théophile).

The Virgin Mary played a most important role in the Middle Ages as a person who would intercede on behalf of sinful Christians, even during their lives. Regretting sin was the primary condition for salvation.

Some of the stories of these plays became very popular indeed, and are found in other forms of art as well. The story of Theophile, for example, which had Greek origins, is represented in the tympan on the north side of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The text chosen for this lesson is taken from Le miracle de Théophile (540-580; 585), written by Rutebeuf during the second half of the 13th century. Theophile is a priest to whom injustice is being done by his bishop. He therefore rejects God and instead signs an agreement with the Devil. The Devil, in exchange for Theophile's soul, ensures that Theophile gets back his possessions and standing and prestige. Later Theophile regrets his actions and, in despair, decides to beseech Our Lady to save him.

The fragment selected here presents Theophile petitioning Mary for help. After a first rejection, Mary decides to save him and to wrest the agreement from the Devil.

ICI PAROLE NOSTRE DAME A THEOPHILE ET DIST
Qui es tu qui vas par ci ?

  • ici -- adverb; <ici, issi> here -- here
  • parole -- verb; third person singular present <parler> speak, talk -- speaks
  • Nostre Dame -- possessive; first person plural nominative singular feminine <nostre> our + noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- Our Lady
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • Theophile -- proper name; oblique singular <Theophile> Theophile -- Theophile
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • dist -- verb; third person singular preterite <dire> say, tell -- she said
  • qui -- interrogative; nominative singular <qui> who -- who
  • es -- verb; second person singular present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- are
  • tu -- personal pronoun; second person singular nominative <tu> you -- you
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • vas -- verb; second person singular present <aler> go -- goes
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- through
  • ci -- adverb; <ci> here -- here

THEOPHILES
Ha, Dame ! aiez de moi merci !
C'est li chetis
Theophiles, li entrepris
Que maufé ont loié et pris.

  • Theophiles -- proper name; nominative singular <Theophile> Theophile -- Theophile
  • ha -- interjection; <ha> ha, hello -- dear
  • Dame -- noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- lady
  • aiez -- verb; second person plural imperative <avoir, aveir> have, be -- have
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- on
  • moi -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • merci -- noun; oblique singular <merci> grace, mercy, pity -- mercy
  • c'est -- demonstrative; oblique singular neuter <cil> that + verb; third person singular present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- it is
  • li -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • chetis -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <chaitif> miserable -- miserable
  • Theophiles -- proper name; nominative singular <Theophile> Theophile -- Theophile
  • li -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • entrepris -- noun; nominative singular <entrepris> unhappy person -- unhappy one
  • que -- relative pronoun; object <qui> who -- whom
  • maufé -- noun; nominative plural <malfé> devil, demon -- devils
  • ont -- verb; third person plural present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- have
  • loié -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <lier, loier> bind -- tied
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • pris -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <prendre> take, take hold of, seize -- taken hold of

Or vieng proier
A vous, Dame, et merci crier,
Que ne gart l'eure qu'asproier
Me viengne cil
Qui m'as mis a si grant escil.
Tu me tenis ja por ton fil,
Roîne bele !

  • or -- conjunction; <or> now -- now
  • vieng -- verb; first person singular present <venir> come, go -- I come
  • proier -- verb; infinitive <prier, preier> pray, beg, beseech -- to pray
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- to
  • vous -- personal pronoun; second person plural direct object <vos> you -- you
  • Dame -- noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- Lady
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • merci -- noun; oblique singular <merci> grace, mercy, pity -- mercy
  • crier -- verb; infinitive <crier> shout -- to beg for
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- so that
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- not
  • gart -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <garder> watch over, guard -- he will look for
  • l'eure -- definite article; oblique singular feminine <li> the + noun; oblique singular <ore, eure> hour, time -- the moment that
  • qu'asproier -- conjunction; <que> that + verb; infinitive <asproier> torment, prosecute -- to torment
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • viengne -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <venir> come, go -- he will come
  • cil -- demonstrative; nominative singular masculine <cil> that -- he
  • qui -- relative pronoun; subject <qui> who -- who
  • m'as -- personal pronoun; first person direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I + verb; third person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- has... me
  • mis -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <metre, mectre, mettre> put -- put
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- in
  • si -- adverb; <si> thus, that way, that much -- such
  • grant -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <grant> great, large, tall -- great
  • escil -- noun; oblique singular <essil, eissil, issil> wretchedness, ruin -- misery
  • tu -- personal pronoun; second person singular nominative <tu> you -- you
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • tenis -- verb; second person singular preterite <tenir> hold, keep, seize, consider -- considered
  • ja -- adverb; <ja, jai> now, already, at once -- already
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- as
  • ton -- possessive; second person singular oblique singular masculine <ton> your -- your
  • fil -- noun; oblique singular <fil> son -- son
  • roîne -- noun; nominative singular <reine, raine, roine> queen -- queen
  • bele -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <bel> dear, beloved, handsome -- beloved

NOSTRE DAME PAROLE
Je n'ai cure de ta favele.
Va t'en, is fors de ma chapele.

  • Nostre Dame -- possessive; first person plural nominative singular feminine <nostre> our + noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- Our Lady
  • parole -- verb; third person singular present <parler> speak, talk -- speaks
  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • n'ai cure de -- negation; <ne, nen> not + verb; first person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be + noun; oblique singular <cure> care, anxiety + preposition; <de> of, from -- do not care about
  • ta -- possessive; second person singular oblique singular feminine <ton> your -- your
  • favele -- noun; oblique singular <favele> story, lie -- story
  • va t'en -- verb; second person singular imperative <aler> go + personal pronoun; second person singular direct object <tu> you + pronoun; inanimate <en> of it -- go away
  • is -- verb; second person singular imperative <issir> go out, come out -- go out
  • fors -- adverb; <fors> out, outside -- ...
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- of
  • ma -- possessive; first person singular oblique singular feminine <mon> my -- my
  • chapele -- noun; oblique singular <chapele> chapel -- chapel

THEOPHILE PAROLE
Dame, je n'ose
Flors d'aiglentier et lis et rose
En qui li Filz Dieu se repose,
Que ferai gié ?

  • Theophile -- proper name; nominative singular <Theophile> Theophile -- Theophile
  • parole -- verb; third person singular present <parler> speak, talk -- speaks
  • dame -- noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- Lady
  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • n'ose -- negation; <ne, nen> not + verb; first person singular present <oser> dare -- do not dare
  • flors d'aiglentier -- noun; nominative singular <flor> flower + preposition; <de> of, from + noun; oblique singular <aiglantier> wild rose -- flowering wild rose
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • lis -- noun; nominative singular <lil> lily -- lily
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • rose -- noun; nominative singular <rose> rose -- rose
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- in
  • qui -- relative pronoun; object <qui> who -- whom
  • li -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • Filz -- noun; nominative singular <fil> son -- son
  • Dieu -- proper name; oblique singular <Dieu, Deu> God -- of God
  • se repose -- verb; third person singular present <se reposer> rest -- rests
  • que -- interrogative; oblique <qui> what -- what
  • ferai -- verb; first person singular future <faire> make -- shall do
  • gié -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I

Malement me sent engagié
Envers le maufé enragié
Ne sai que fere :
Ja mes ne finirai de brere !
Virge, pucele debonere,
Dame honoree,
Bien sera m'ame devoree,
Qu'en enfer fera demoree
Avoec Cahu.

  • malement -- adverb; <malement> badly -- badly
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • sent -- verb; first person singular present <sentir> smell, feel -- I feel
  • engagié -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <engagier> commit -- am commited
  • envers -- preposition : <envers> towards -- towards
  • le -- definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- the
  • maufé -- noun; oblique singular <malfé> devil, demon -- devil
  • enragié -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <enragié> furious -- furious
  • ne -- negation; <ne, nen> not -- not
  • sai -- verb; first person singular present <savoir> know -- I do know
  • que -- interrogative; oblique <qui> what -- what
  • fere -- verb; infinitive <faire> make -- to do
  • ja mes ne -- adverb; <ja> ever + adverb; <mais> more, further, rather + negation; <ne, nen> not -- never
  • finirai -- verb; first person singular future <fenir, finir> end, stop -- I will stop
  • de -- preposition; <de> of, from -- ...
  • brere -- verb; infinitive <braire> shout, sing -- begging
  • virge -- noun; nominative singular <virge> virgin -- virgin
  • pucele -- noun; nominative singular <pucele> girl, servant, maiden -- maiden
  • debonere -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <debonaire> noble, sweet -- noble
  • dame -- noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- lady
  • honoree -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <honore> honored -- honored
  • bien -- adverb; <bien> well, many, much, really -- completely
  • sera -- verb; third person singular future <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- will be
  • m'ame -- possessive; first person singular nominative singular feminine <mon> my + noun; nominative singular <anme, alme, arme, ame> soul, somebody -- my soul
  • devoree -- verb; perfective participle nominative singular feminine <devorer> devour -- devoured
  • qu'en -- conjunction; <que> when + preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- when... in
  • enfer -- noun; oblique singular <enfern> hell -- hell
  • fera demoree -- verb; third person singular future <faire> make + noun; oblique singular <demoree> delay, stay -- staying
  • avoec -- preposition; <avuec, avec, avoc> with -- with
  • Cahu -- proper name; oblique singular <Cahu> Cahu -- Cain # According to some Cahu was a pagan God, reinterpreted as the devil; others think that Cahu refers to Cain

NOSTRE DAME
Theophile, je t'ai seü
Ça en arriere a moi eü.
Saches de voir,
Ta chartre te ferai ravoir
Que tu baillas par nonsavoir.
Ja la vois querre.

  • Nostre Dame -- possessive; first person plural nominative singular feminine <nostre> our + noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- Our Lady
  • Theophile -- proper name; nominative singular <Theophile> Theophile -- Theophile
  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • t'ai -- personal pronoun; second person singular direct object <tu> you + verb; first person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- have... you
  • seü -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <savoir> know -- known
  • ça en arriere -- adverb; <ça en arriere> formerly, until now -- in the past when
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- at
  • moi -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- my service
  • -- verb; first person preterite <avoir, aveir> have, be -- I had
  • saches -- verb; second person singular subjunctive present <savoir> know -- know
  • de voir -- preposition; <de> of, from + adjective; oblique singular masculine <voir> true -- for sure
  • ta -- possessive; second person singular oblique singular feminine <ton> your -- your
  • chartre -- noun; oblique singular <chartre> letter, agreement -- agreement
  • te -- personal pronoun; second person singular direct object <tu> you -- you
  • ferai -- verb; first person singular future <faire> make -- I shall make
  • ravoir -- verb; infinitive <ravoir> have back -- have back
  • que -- relative pronoun; object <qui> that -- which
  • tu -- personal pronoun; second person singular nominative <tu> you -- you
  • baillas -- verb; second person singular preterite <baillier> own, receive, give -- gave away
  • par -- preposition; <par> through, by, by reason of -- by
  • nonsavoir -- noun; oblique singular <nonsavoir> ignorance -- ignorance
  • ja -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • la -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object feminine <il> he -- it
  • vois -- verb; first person singular present <aler> go -- go
  • querre -- verb; infinitive <quere, querre> look for, want, ask -- look for

ICI VA NOSTRE DAME POR LA CHARTRE THEOPHILE

  • ici -- adverb; <ici, issi> here -- here
  • va -- verb; third person singular present <aler> go -- leaves
  • Nostre Dame -- possessive; first person plural nominative singular feminine <nostre> our + noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- Our Lady
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- to get
  • la -- definite article; oblique singular feminine <li> the -- the
  • chartre -- noun; oblique singular <chartre> letter, agreement -- agreement
  • Theophile -- proper name; oblique singular <Theophile> Theophile -- of Theophile

Sathan ! Sathan ! es tu en serre ?
S'es or venuz en ceste terre
Por commencier a mon clerc guerre,
Mar le pensas.

  • Sathan -- proper name; nominative singular <Satan> Satan -- Satan
  • Sathan -- proper name; nominative singular <Satan> Satan -- Satan
  • es -- verb; second person singular present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- are
  • tu -- personal pronoun; second person singular nominative <tu> you -- you
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- in
  • serre -- noun; oblique singular <serre> prison -- prison
  • s'es -- conjunction; <se> if + verb; second person singular present <estre, iestre, aistre> be -- if you have
  • or -- adverb; <or> now -- now
  • venuz -- verb; perfective participle nominative singular masculine <venir> come, go -- come
  • en -- preposition; <en> in, into, on, on top of -- to
  • ceste -- demonstrative; oblique singular feminine <cest, cist> this -- this
  • terre -- noun; oblique singular <terre> land, country, earth -- world
  • por -- preposition; <por> for -- in order to
  • commencier -- verb; infinitive <comencier> begin, start -- start
  • a -- preposition; <a, ad> to, up to, against, in, on -- ...
  • mon -- possessive; first person singular oblique singular masculine <mon> my -- my
  • clerc -- noun; oblique singular <clerc, clerge> clerk -- clerk
  • guerre -- noun; oblique singular <guerre> war, trouble -- to trouble
  • mar -- adverb; <mar> wrongly, in vain -- in vain
  • le -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object masculine <il> he -- so
  • pensas -- verb; second person singular preterite <penser> think, pay attention -- you thought

Rent la chartre que du clerc as,
Quar tu as fet trop vilain cas.

  • rent -- verb; second person singular imperative <rendre> give, return -- give back
  • la -- definite article; oblique singular feminine <li> the -- the
  • chartre -- noun; oblique singular <chartre> letter, agreement -- agreement
  • que -- relative pronoun; object <qui> that -- that
  • du -- preposition; <de> of, from + definite article; oblique singular masculine <li> the -- from the
  • clerc -- noun; oblique singular <clerc, clerge> clerk -- clerk
  • as -- verb; second person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- you got
  • quar -- conjunction; <quar, car> for, because -- because
  • tu -- personal pronoun; second person singular nominative <tu> you -- you
  • as -- verb; second person singular present <avoir, aveir> have, be -- have
  • fet -- verb; perfective participle oblique singular masculine <faire> make -- done
  • trop -- adverb; <trop> too much, extremely, excessively -- too much
  • vilain cas -- adjective; oblique singular masculine <vilain> ugly, bad + noun; oblique singular <cas> fall, event, affair -- harm

SATHAN PAROLE
Je la vous randre !
J'aim miex assez que l'en me pende ! ...

  • Sathan -- proper name; nominative singular <Satan> Satan -- Satan
  • parole -- verb; third person singular present <parler> speak, talk -- speaks
  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • la -- personal pronoun; third person singular direct object feminine <il> he -- it
  • vous -- personal pronoun; second person plural indirect object <vos> you -- to you
  • randre -- verb; infinitive <rendre> give, return -- give... back
  • j'aim miex -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I + verb; first person singular present <amer> love + comparative adverb; <miels, mels> better, rather -- I would... prefer
  • assez -- adverb; <asez, assés> many, much, very well -- very much
  • que -- conjunction; <que> that -- that
  • l'en -- definite article; nominative singular masculine <li> the + personal pronoun; third person singular nominative <om, on> one -- they
  • me -- personal pronoun; first person singular direct object <jo, jou, jeu> I -- me
  • pende -- verb; third person singular subjunctive present <pendre> hang -- hang

NOSTRE DAME
Et je te foulerai la pance.

  • Nostre Dame -- possessive; first person plural nominative singular feminine <nostre> our + noun; nominative singular <dame> lady, dame -- Our Lady
  • et -- conjunction; <e, et, ed> and -- and
  • je -- personal pronoun; first person singular nominative <jo, jou, jeu> I -- I
  • te -- personal pronoun; second person singular indirect object <tu> you -- ...
  • foulerai -- verb; first person singular future <foler> harm -- trample
  • la -- definite article; oblique singular feminine <li> the -- your
  • pance -- noun; oblique singular <pance> stomach, belly -- belly

Lesson Text

ICI PAROLE NOSTRE DAME A THEOPHILE ET DIST
Qui es tu qui vas par ci ?


THEOPHILES
Ha, Dame ! aiez de moi merci !
C'est li chetis
Theophiles, li entrepris
Que maufé ont loié et pris.

Or vieng proier
A vous, Dame, et merci crier,
Que ne gart l'eure qu'asproier
Me viengne cil
Qui m'as mis a si grant escil.
Tu me tenis ja por ton fil,
Roîne bele !


NOSTRE DAME PAROLE
Je n'ai cure de ta favele.
Va t'en, is fors de ma chapele.


THEOPHILE PAROLE
Dame, je n'ose
Flors d'aiglentier et lis et rose
En qui li Filz Dieu se repose,
Que ferai gié ?

Malement me sent engagié
Envers le maufé enragié
Ne sai que fere :
Ja mes ne finirai de brere !
Virge, pucele debonere,
Dame honoree,
Bien sera m'ame devoree,
Qu'en enfer fera demoree
Avoec Cahu.


NOSTRE DAME
Theophile, je t'ai seü
Ça en arriere a moi eü.
Saches de voir,
Ta chartre te ferai ravoir
Que tu baillas par nonsavoir.
Ja la vois querre.


ICI VA NOSTRE DAME POR LA CHARTRE THEOPHILE
Sathan ! Sathan ! es tu en serre ?
S'es or venuz en ceste terre
Por commencier a mon clerc guerre,
Mar le pensas.

Rent la chartre que du clerc as,
Quar tu as fet trop vilain cas.


SATHAN PAROLE
Je la vous randre !
J'aim miex assez que l'en me pende ! ...


NOSTRE DAME
Et je te foulerai la pance.

Translation

HERE OUR LADY SPEAKS TO THEOPHILE, AND SHE SAID:
Who are you, who goes through here?
THEOPHILE:
Dear Lady! Have mercy on me!
It is the miserable
Theophile, the unhappy one
Whom devils have tied and taken hold of.
Now I come to pray
To you, Lady, and to beg for mercy,
So that he will not look for the moment that
He will come to torment me, he
Who has put me in such great misery.
You considered me already as your son,
Beloved queen!
OUR LADY SPEAKS:
I do not care about your story.
Go away, go out of my chapel.
THEOPHILE SPEAKS:
Lady, I do not dare.
Flowering wild rose and lily and rose,
In whom the Son of God rests,
What shall I do?
I feel I am badly committed
Towards the furious devil
I do not know what to do :
I will never stop begging!
Virgin, noble maiden,
Honored Lady,
My soul will be devoured completely,
When staying in hell
With Cain.
OUR LADY:
Theophile I have known you
In the past when I had you at my service.
Know for sure,
I will make you have your agreement back
Which you gave away by ignorance.
I go look for it.
HERE OUR LADY LEAVES TO GET THE AGREEMENT OF THEOPHILE
Satan, Satan, are you in prison?
If you have come to this world now
In order to start to trouble my clerk,
You thought so in vain.
Give back the agreement that you got from the clerk
Because you have done too much harm.
SATAN SPEAKS:
Me give it back to you!
I would very much prefer that they hang me! ...
OUR LADY:
And I will trample your belly.

Grammar

41. Indefinite Elements

There are a number of indefinite elements in Old French, nouns, pronominal elements, adjectival elements.

· Indefinite nouns. Among indefinite nouns, chose (cose) and rien (ren) are the most important and most common. Chose traces back to Latin causam 'cause, business', whereas rien originated in Latin rem 'thing, business'. In Old French, both chose and rien mean 'thing, something, (some) business, person'. The difference between the two elements resides in the occurrence of rien in negated contexts, meaning 'nothing'; cf.:

    ne rien veer 'to see nothing'

It is this negated use that rien preserved into the modern period, cf.:

    il ne mange rien 'he does not eat anything'

· Pronominal and adjectival elements. There is a group of quantifying (quant, tant) and qualifying (tel) elements. As nominal elements, they have declensional paradigms.

Declension of quant, '(how)ever many, (how)ever much'

    Masculine   Feminine
Nom. Sg.   quanz   quante
Obl. Sg.   quant   quante
         
Nom. Pl.   quant   quantes
Obl. Pl.   quanz   quantes

The student will have noticed that the declension of this element follows the patterns of Class I and Class II adjectives. The group includes tant 'so much, so many' and alquant (auquant) 'certain ones, several', which appear only in the plural.

Declension of tel 'such, such one'

    Masculine   Feminine
Nom. Sg.   tels, teus   tel
Obl. Sg.   tel   tel
         
Nom. Pl.   tel   tels, teus
Obl. Pl.   tels   tels, teus

· Various lexical qualifiers. In addition there is a series of indefinites that qualify nouns, adjectives, verbs or adverbs: molt 'many, much', poi (pou, peu) 'a little, little', tot 'all, entirely'; cf.:

    Mult grant eschech en unt si chevaler (CdR 99, Lesson 1)
    'his knights had a very large booty'
42. Adverbs

In Lesson 6 adverbs of manner were already discussed. In fact manner adverbs are the most "regular" among the adverbs in Old French. The other adverbs have a variety of etymological backgrounds. Some trace back to preposition, others to particles, and so forth.

· Adverbs of time. Time reference in Old French is conveyed by a group of adverbs, cf.:

    Present    
    ore, ores, or   'now'
    maintenant   'now'
    (h)ui   'today'
    encui   'today'
    oan   'this year'
    endementres   'during'
    anuit   'tonight'
         
    Future    
    main   'tomorrow'
    demain   'tomorrow'
    a piece   'in a moment'
    tantost   'shortly'
    tost   'soon'
    désormais   'from now on'
    encore, encor, uncor   'yet again'
    adès   'soon'
    todis   'always'
         
    Past    
    lors   'then'
    (h)ier   'yesterday'
    l'autrier   'the day before yesterday'
    ja, jadis   'in the past'
    antan   'last year'
    onques   'never'
    pieça   'long ago'

Pieça is a fossilized form of the temporal expression piece a:

    piece   a
    segment of time   have-3sg. pres.
    'there has been some time'

· Adverbs of place. Location in space is referred to with a variety of adverbs, among them:

    Here    
    ici, ci   'here'
    ça   'here, hither'
         
    In here    
    ceanz   'in here'
         
    There    
    la   'there'
    ça   'there'
    i   'there, thither'
         
    Place where    
    ou   'where'
         
    Place from which    
    dont   'from which, whence'
    en   'thence, away'
         
    Inside    
    leanz   'inside, within'
    enz   'inside'
    dedenz   'inside, within'
         
    Outside    
    hors   'outside'
    fors   'out, outside'
         
    Above    
    sus   'up, above'
         
    Under    
    suz, soz   'under, beneath'
         
    Down    
    jus   'down'
43. Prepositions

Prepositions in Old French trace back to a variety of elements: prepositions in Latin, adverbs, participle, and nouns.

· Latin origin. Prepositions going back to Latin prepositions may be either compound forms or non-compound forms:

    a   < Lat. ad   'at, in, ...'
    sans   < Lat. sine + s   'without'
    tres   < Lat. trans   'through'
    de   < Lat. de   'from'
    contre   < Lat. contra   'against'
    en   < Lat. in   'in'

In spoken Latin many prepositions were combined to form new prepositions, several of which subsequently surivive in (Old) French; see, for example:

    avan   < La. ab + ante   'before'
    devant   < La. de + ab + ante   'in front of'
    envers   < La. in + versus   'in the direction of'

· Adverbs. Several prepositions trace back to adverbs, such as:

    hors   'out of'
    dans   'in'

· Nouns. The prepositions chez 'at' and lez 'beside' originally were nouns. Chez traces back to Latin casa 'hous', whereas lez originates in La. latus 'side'.

· Participles. In the later stages of Old French, participles came to be used as prepositions as well; mostly present participles, cf.:

Present participles:

    suivant   'following'
    moyennant   'through'
    durant   'during'
    pendant   'during'

Perfective participles:

    hormis   'with the exception of'
    excepté   'with the exception of'
44. Subordinate Conjunction, que

The conjunction que in Old French has a very rich use. It may simply connect a subordinate clause to the main clause, it may also express intensity ('so that'), intention ('so that'), cause, reason, or concession ('because', 'although'), and simply 'and'. Examples:

· Connecting element, cf.:

    Ço sent Rollant que la mort le tresprent (CdR, 2355, Lesson 2)
    'Roland feels that death overcomes him completely'

· Intention, cf.:

    Congié ... li requiert ... d'aler tornoier
    que l'an ne l'apialt recreant. (Yv. 2563, Lesson 6 )
    'he asks permission to fight in tornaments'
    'so that they do not call him a coward'
     
    Pur ço l'ad fait que il voelt veirement (CdR 2361, Lesson 2)
    'for this reason he has done this that he really wants'

· Cause, reason, concession, cf.:

    La dame tantost li otroie,
    qu'el ne set qu'il vialt demander (Yv., 2556)
    'the lady immediately grants it to him,
    'although she does not know what he wants to ask'
45. Facts: Numbers, Distances, Measures, Time

· Numbers. In Old French texts, numbers are either spelled out in full or are rendered by Roman numbers. When Roman numbers are used, the number is preceded and followed by a dot.

· Numerals. Numerals in Old French are decimal, continuing a long tradition in Indo-European. During the Middle Ages, vigesimals emerge in various languages in Western Europe, among them Old French. They are also attested in other Medieval Romance languages as well as Germanic and Celtic languages. They are used specifically in combination with elements that typically are counted: agricultural products, coins, measures, and so forth. From the 16th and 17th centuries vigesimals became less frequent again. Numerals like quatre-vingts in modern French therefore are residues of a much wider use (see Grammar Point 48 in Lesson 10 for references).

· Time. As pointed out in Lesson 3, the calendar of the Church determined life in the Middle Ages to a great extent. The year, for example, is organized around important Christian holidays or around important days in the liturgy of the Church. These special days are used in reference to time, cf.:

    pansez de tost venir arriere
    a tot le moins jusqu'a un an
    huit jorz aprés la Saint Johan (Yv., 2574-2576, Lesson 6)
    'at the very least within one year
    'make sure to come back in time
    'eight days after the feast of St. John'

Reference is systematic as is the structure of the Church calendar. Epiphany, for example, is set on the Twelfth Night following Christmas (i.e. on January 6); Easter is set on the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 21; Lent is set during the forty days preceding Easter; Pentecost (cf. Gk. pentekostos 'fiftieth') is celebrated on the 50th day after Easter and is preceded ten days before by Ascension.

Hour indication in Medieval texts is quite relative, and follows Roman habits. The 24-hour day itself is divided into two important parts, the daylight part and the night part, each of twelve hours. The twelve hours divide each of these segments. Consequently, the length of the individual hours varies according to season. An hour at night in summer, for example, is much shorter than an hour at day in summer or an hour at night in winter. In addition, Old French had several adverbs indicating moments of the day; several of them are related to prayer habits in monasteries, cf.:

    vespres   'early evening', 'sunset', when it gets dark
        [early evening prayers]
    complie   'evening', around 9 PM
        [prayers of thanks for the completed day]
    laudes   between 3 AM and dawn
        [laudative songs at dawn]
    matins   'early morning'
        first canonical hour, between midnight and dawn
        [first prayers in the morninng]

The hours are referred to with ordinal numbers, e.g.:

    prime   'sunrise', around 6 AM
    terce   'mid morning, around 9 AM
    midi   'midday'
    none   'nineth hour', 'mid afternoon', around 3 PM

· Distance/length. Distance and length are measured in a way not found in a metrical system: the measuring unit varies with the type of length and the object, and there is no consistent correlation between the individual units (as there is between a centiment, a decimeter, a meter, a kilometer, and so forth). The safest strategy for the student/reader is to check the individual instances of distance indication that are encountered. A few measures are relatively frequent:

    pié   'a foot', a measure used in Antiquity; approx. 30 cm.
    pouz   'a thumb', approx. 2.7 cm. (there are twelve pouz in one pié)
    lieue   'a Gallic mile', approx. 4-5 km. (roughly three sea miles)
         
    Granz 'XXX' liwes ... (CdR, 1756, Lesson 2)
    'a long thirty miles away'

The absolute value of these measures often varies with the region.

· Monetary system. The monetary system, which during the Middle Ages reaches isolated parts of the countryside as well, has strong local characteristics. While the official monetary system based on pounds (Fr. livres) becomes increasingly important for commercial and tax reasons, local systems continues to be used as well. The pound includes 20 shillings, each of twelve pennies, and goes back to Charlemagne's reform of the monetary system.