Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Latin to French, on the Spoken Side of the Issue

NativLang has a very good video on the theme:

Why French sounds so unlike other Romance languages
23rd of July 2021 | NativLang

6:22 "instead, observe as it arises from social ..."

A bit like Australian English reflects more than one dialect of England? Kind of a wiki with different dialects as contributors?

9:33 I thought the non-trilled uvular R was attributed to a speech fault of Louis XIV?

Because, it seems to have spread past the Rhine into German, Dutch, Danish (except Bornholm?), Scanian in Sweden even.

10:54 We do agree that this French rhythm, final syllable of each phrase, is posterior to how French was pronounced in the days of Corneille, Racine and Molière, right?

Because we do find Alexandrines in pairs of two anapaests, caesura, two anapaests, rhyme, two anapaests, caesura, two anapaests and rhyme with first rhyme, and also in pairs of three iambics, caesura, three iambics, rhyme, three iambics, caesura, three iambics and rhyme with first rhyme. Which would not be the case if each half Alexandrine was a phrase of six syllables with one accent on the final one.

After the video, how about this : you have explained (as the title precisely purports to) how Latin phonetics transitioned to French phonetics in the spoken language.

That said, there was a definite time when one ceased to spell langue d'oïl as Latin and began to spell it as ... newly invented spelling for langue d'oïl.

My take on the process is this:

  • up to and including Gregory of Tours, "good" written Latin didn't reflect and "mediocre" written Latin partly reflected changes in sound as well as morphosyntax ("good" as in "katharevousa is good Greek" and "mediocre" as in "dhimotiki is mediocre Greek");
  • in the 8th C. one became aware that pronouncing Latin the French way made for some misunderstandings (a priest, in visit from Italy, was wondering whether the priest had baptised in the name of the Father, the Daughter ... and therefore invalidly, the French priest arguably pronouncing "filii" as "filie" and "filiae" also as "filie");
  • Alcuin came to the rescue, since in England, Latin had been on the freeze (since spoken only as second language, and with very intermittent contact with Latin first language speakers) since the times of St. Augustine and St. Pauline, these arriving from Italy, where Rome preserved a rather correct Latin in 600, and the pronunciation became even more close to Classical through use by barbarians who pronounced each letter, since it was easier;
  • he arrived in 800 AD to Tours, and taught the clergy of Tours to pronounce Latin, as a complete non-vernacular;
  • result, by 813, the clergy of Tours, sticking to his reform of the pronunciation, decided to add, after Gospel, on Sundays and public Feast days, a sermon explaining the Gospel "in lingua romana rustica, vel theudisca" - in langue d'oïl or in Frankish
  • clergy preparing sermons began giving their old pronunciation a new spelling (with rules of correspondence grapheme to phoneme, similar to the new ones for new Latin pronunciation)
  • which new spelling surfaces in the Strassburg oaths
  • and is modified quicker, since now the local language was no longer seen as part of the spectrum of Latin stylistics, so that we have soon enough have an even less Latin sounding Sequence of Saint Eulalia by 880.

I am being somewhat (and with underhand tactics) harrassed by Protestants who would love me to admit this video of yours as disproving above, since they prefer imagining that pronunciation of correct Latin and pronunciation of very early langue d'oïl diverged so gradually, that the people could not have understood St. Gregory of Tours pronouncing his own text in a vernacular pronunciation, or a semi-vernacular one. You know, the theme of "Apostate Roman Church imposing Latin to lock the Bible into an unintelligible language" and all that ....

Some support would be fairly welcome ...

If he does, I'll make "on the written side of the issue" part of the header when sharing, perhaps with comments ...

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