FR 392K • FRENCH HISTORICAL LINGUISTICS
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
Data from Old French reflect the heterogeneity of the language, varying substantially across time, text genre, and region. This course focuses in detail on some of the major diachronic changes (i.e., across time) that took place during the Old French and early Middle French periods (ca. 10th-15th centuries). After an introductory review of the main features of Old French, discussions will cover mechanisms and theories of linguistic change, approaches to historical data, types of data available in earlier stages of French, and related topics. Emphasis will be placed on developments such as word order and constituent placement, clause structure, and morphological case, but student research projects may address any aspect of the development of the structures of French. Several class periods will be reserved for readings on topics decided upon by the class. In addition to an individual research project, students will present readings, work through a series of problem sets, and prepare an abstract (based on the research project) suitable for submission to a professional conference. Readings, in English and French, will include both classic and recent approaches from a variety of frameworks. Basic knowledge of generative theory recommended but not required; some familiarity with Old French or another early Romance variety highly recommended.
Books (tentatively): Aitchison, J. (2000). Language change: Progress or decay? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ayres, Bennett, W. (1996). A history of the French language through texts. London: Routledge. Additional readings to be made available online or in a course packet