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How can I teach myself Norman French?
September 1, 2014 5:42 AM   Subscribe

I mean the French used by William the Conqueror and those before and after him. I've found it difficult to find a text. There are easy-to-find books teaching one Old English and Old Norse, but not, it seems, for Norman French. Can anybody recommend one? I can find books in Norman French, but that's not the same thing as a "Teach Yourself" book. (I already can read modern French, btw.)
posted by Opengreen to Education (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know the answer to this, but just to make sure:

Have you checked on French booksellers' websites? Perhaps amazon.fr*? Maybe the subject is more popular among modern French speakers than elsewhere; maybe there are more books on the subject written for an audience of modern French speakers than for other audiences.

*: To be clear, I don't know that amazon.fr is a particularly good or broadly stocked bookseller. I'm just guessing from "Amazon".
posted by Flunkie at 6:33 AM on September 1


I mean the French used by William the Conqueror and those before and after him

Those aren't the same language. William and his cohorts who conquered Britain would have spoken various langues d'oïl, only one of which was Norman. It is unclear who "those before and after him" would have been, so it is hard to know what they would have spoken. Presumably, Middle English falls under this definition.

Have you tried Amazon? This book might be worth a purchase to help you figure out what language it is you want to study. Your best bet is probably Anglo-Norman (Anglo-normand in French) or Old French (l'ancien français). This appears to be an introductory, autodidactic text on Old French.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:10 AM on September 1


You might want to ask the folks at Fordham University. There is contact info. and also what looks like some useful links at their website.
posted by gudrun at 7:13 AM on September 1


From my girlfriend:

I learned how to read medieval French while pursuing a PhD in medieval history. Like you, I could read modern French easily. I could also read Latin. Basically, I learned by reading texts with a dictionary at hand. I started with texts that had modern French translations so I could check my work. I recommend French translations instead of English ones (assuming your French is good) -- you pick up the differences between medieval and modern French and that helps with comprehension. I found that reading out loud made a big difference - a number of confusing spelling differences become clear when you sound out the words.

The University of Toronto has a good website that includes a link to an Anglo-Norman dictionary. I would start there and see if you need anything further.

Reading groups are also helpful -- if you can find a couple people (or even one person) to read with you it really moves the process along.
posted by lassie at 9:21 AM on September 1 [3 favorites]


I learned how to read medieval French while pursuing a PhD in medieval history. Like you, I could read modern French easily. I could also read Latin. Basically, I learned by reading texts with a dictionary at hand.

I had a similar experience with Middle High German, though I did it in a class and not on my own. The first few weeks were rough and I had to translate middle high to modern German to English, but it got much easier and I stopped passing through modern German. It was basically a flashback to high school Latin class (but I was ultimately better at reading middle high than I ever was at reading Latin, presumably because I can read modern German).

What you usually find in a textbook for these sorts of languages is: a summary of the grammar (maybe), the text(s) with footnotes to get you past the tricky bits and possibly a glossary (good for the obscure words).
posted by hoyland at 11:17 AM on September 1




Here you go: Old French in ten lessons.
posted by Iridic at 9:38 PM on September 1


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