Learn me some French language history
January 8, 2007 9:41 PM   Subscribe

Recommend to me a history of the languages of France.

I'd like to read about the languages of France, primarily about French, but also a bit about the lesser used tongues of the region (even if only to describe how they have contributed to what is now French).

What I have in mind is something like David Crystal's The Stories of English, but about French. The catch is that the book needs to be in English, which is all that I can read.
posted by mds35 to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You mean like The Story of French?
posted by vacapinta at 10:05 PM on January 8, 2007

Response by poster: Not exactly. It seems like that book concerns itself more with French in terms of why and where she is spoke rather than how she is spoke and how she came to be. I'm looking for something that touches on more of the pre-Academie evolution of the language.
posted by mds35 at 10:26 PM on January 8, 2007

Are web pages OK? "WordIQ" is sort of Wikipedia for linguists. For what you want, start with this link: History of the French Language.

There also this one: The Languages of France
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:57 PM on January 8, 2007

"WordIQ" is sort of Wikipedia for linguists.

What's that supposed to mean? Yes, it's like Wikipedia in that any idiot can edit it, but I can't imagine why any linguist would bother looking at it. The Russian section (which I just took a look at) is full of bad writing, dubious statistics, and wild guesses, not to mention that the IPA transcriptions show secondary accents, which do not exist in Russian.

For an overview, the chapter on French in The World's Major Languages, edited by Bernard Comrie, is useful and has a bibliography at the end (if that link doesn't work for you, use Search Inside for "Deniau"). I don't have The Romance Languages by Rebecca Posner, but it looks good if you want a more detailed view; of course, it won't have anything on Basque or Breton. If I think of any more resources, I'll comment again.
posted by languagehat at 6:25 AM on January 9, 2007

Best answer: French Inside Out by Henriette Walter is a good read (disclaimer: I am familiar with the French version of which this is a translation). Of course its focus is (standard) French, but as I recall it covers the other languages of France, including the non-Romance ones.
posted by nomis at 6:35 PM on January 9, 2007

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