Old Frankish Explained

Old Frankish
States:formerly the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Northern France, Western Germany
Era:Evolved into Old Low Franconian by the 8th century
Familycolor:Indo-European
Fam2:Germanic
Fam3:West Germanic
Iso3:frk

Not to be confused with Old French.

Old Frankish is an extinct West Germanic language once spoken by the Franks. Old Frankish was spoken in areas covering the modern Low Countries and adjacent parts of France and Germany between the 4th and 8th century AD. Old Frankish is thought to have given rise to the Franconian languages. The Franks were divided into two groups: the Salian Franks and the Ripuarian Franks. Old Frankish probably consisted of a range of dialects and languages rather than a single uniform dialect or language.[1]

The Franks descended from Germanic tribes that settled parts of the Netherlands and western Germany during the early Iron Age. From the 4th century they are attested as extending into what is now the southern Netherlands and northern Belgium. In the 5th and 6th century they expanded their realm and conquered Roman Gaul completely as well as client states such as Bavaria and Thuringia.

During this period, Old Frankish had a major influence on the lexicon, pronunciation and grammar of the Romance language spoken in former Roman Gaul. As a result, many modern French words (including even the country name "France") have a Germanic origin.

Old Frankish (as spoken by the Salian Franks) is the parent language of all Low Franconian languages, of which Dutch is the best known. Between the 5th and 8th century, Old Frankish (as spoken by the Salian Franks) evolved into Old Dutch (Old Low Franconian), a language that remained spoken in the area that was originally held by the Salian Franks of the 4th century (e.g., what is now the southern Netherlands and northern Belgium), while in Picardy and Île-de-France it was eclipsed by Old French as the dominant language.

Knowledge of Old Frankish is almost entirely reconstructed from Old Dutch and from etyma and loanwords from Old French. However, a notable exception is the Bergakker inscription found in 1996, which may be a direct attestation of Old Frankish.

Predecessor of Old Dutch

The language from which Old Dutch arose is not known with certainty, but it is thought to be Old Frankish, specifically Old West Low Franconian, the language spoken by the Salian Franks. Dutch also has a limited number of Ingvaeonic features, especially in its coastal dialects.[2] There was a close relationship between Old Frankish, Old Saxon, Old English and Old Frisian. Because Old Frankish texts are almost non-existent and Old Dutch texts scarce and fragmentary, it is difficult to determine when the transition from Old Frankish to Old Dutch occurred, but it is thought to have happened by the end of the ninth century A.D. and perhaps occurred before then. Old Dutch made the transition to Middle Dutch around 1150.[3]

Influence of Old Frankish on French and other languages

Most French words of Germanic origin came from Frankish (most of the others are English loanwords[4]), often replacing the Latin word which would have been used. It is estimated that French took between 700 and 1000 stem words from Old Frankish.[5] Many of these words were concerned with agriculture (e.g., French: jardin "garden"), war (e.g., French: guerre "war") or social organization (e.g., French: baron "baron"). Old Frankish has introduced the modern French word for the nation, France (Francia), meaning "land of the Franks". The influence of Frankish on French is decisive for the birth of the early langue d'oïl compared to the other Romance languages, that appeared later such as langue d'oc, Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan, Italian, etc., because its influence was greater than the respective influence of Visigothic and Lombardic (both Germanic languages) on the Langue d'oc, the Romance languages of Iberia and Italian. Not all of these loanwords have been retained in modern French. French has also passed on words of Frankish origin to other Romance languages.

Frankish also had an influence on late Latin itself. Latin words with Frankish roots include sacire, meaning "seize" (from Frankish sekjan, related to English "seek"). Frankish speech habits are also responsible for the substitution of Latin cum ("with") with aboc (a Frankish corruption of apud hoc "near this" ≠ Italian, Spanish con) in Old French (Modern French avec), and for the use of a non tonal form of Latin homo "man" : on one side homme "man" and on the other side Old French hum, hom, om > modern on, indefinite pronoun meaning "we", "it", etc. (compare German der Mann "man" and man, indefinite pronoun). English also has many words with Frankish roots, usually through Old French e.g. random (via Old French randon, Old French verb randir, from *rant "a running"), standard (via Old French estandart, from *standhard "stand firm"), scabbard (via Anglo-French *escauberc, from *skar-berg), grape, stale, march (via Old French marche, from *marka) among others. It has also left many etyma in the different Northern Langues d'oïls such as Picard, Champenois, Bas Lorrain and Walloon, more than in Common French, and not always the same ones.[6]

See below a non-exhaustive list of French words of Frankish origin. An asterisk prefixing a term indicates a reconstructed form of the Frankish word. Most Frankish words with the phoneme w, changed it to gu when entering Old French and other Romance languages; however, the northern langue d'oïl dialects such as Picard, Northern Norman, Walloon, Burgundian, Champenois and Bas-Lorrain retained the [w] or turned it into [v]. Perhaps the best known example is the Frankish *werra ("war" < Old Northern French werre, compare Old High German werre "quarrel"), which entered modern French as guerre and guerra in Italian, Occitan, Catalan, Spanish and Portuguese. Other examples include "gant" ("gauntlet", from *want) and "garder" ("to guard", from *wardōn). Frankish words starting with the phoneme s changed to es when entering Old French (e.g., Frankish skirm and Old French escrémie > Italian scrima > Modern French escrime).

Current French wordOld FrankishDutch or other Germanic cognatesLatin/Romance
affranchir "to free"
  • frank "freeborn; unsubjugated, answering to no one", nasalized variant of *frāki "rash, untamed, impudent"
MDu vrec "insolent", Du frank "unforced, sincere, frank", vrank "carefree, brazen",[7] Du Frankrijk "France", Du vrek "miser", OHG franko "free man"L līberāre
alène "awl" (Sp alesna, It lesina)
  • alisna
MDu elsene, else, Du elsL sūbula
alise "whitebeam berry" (OFr alis, alie "whitebeam")
  • alísō "alder"[8]
MDu elze, Du els "alder" (vs. G Erle "alder"); Du elsbes "whitebeam", G Else "id."non-native to the Mediterranean
baron
  • baro "freeman"
MDu baren "to attribute", Du bar "gravely", OHG baro "freeman", OE beorn "noble"Germanic cultural import
bâtard "bastard" (FrProv bâsco)
  • bāst "marriage"[9]
MDu bast "lust, heat, reproductive season", WFris boaste, boask "marriage"L nothus
bâtir "to build" (OFr bastir "to baste, tie together")
bâtiment "building"
bastille "fortress"
bastion "fortress"
  • bastian "to bind with bast string"
MDu besten "to sew up, to connect", OHG bestan "to mend, patch"; MDu best "liaison" (Du gemenebest "commonwealth")L construere (It costruire)
bière "beer"
  • bera
Du bierL cervisia
bleu "blue" (OFr blou, bleve)
  • blao
MDu blā, blau, blaeuw, Du blauwL caeruleus "light blue", lividus "dark blue"
bois "wood, forest"
  • busk "bush, underbrush"
MDu bosch, busch, Du bos "bush"L silva "forest" (OFr selve), L lignum "wood" (OFr lein)[10]
broder "to embroider" (OFr brosder, broisder)
  • brosdōn, blend of *borst "bristle" and *brordōn "to embroider"
G Borste "boar bristle", Du borstel "bristle"; OS brordōn "to embroider, decorate", brord "needle"L pingere "to paint; embroider" (Fr peindre "to paint")
broyer "to grind, crush" (OFr brier)
  • brekan "to break"
Du breken "to break"LL tritāre (Occ trissar "to grind", but Fr trier "to sort"), LL pistāre (It pestare "to pound, crush", OFr pester), L machīnare (Dalm maknur "to grind", Rom măcina, It macinare)
choquer "to shock"
  • skukjan
Du schokken "to shock, to shake"
choisir "to choose"
  • kiosan
MDu kiesen, Du kiezenL eligēre (Fr élire "to elect"), VL exeligēre (cf. It scegliere), excolligere (Cat escollir, Sp escoger, Pg escolher)
chouette "barn owl" (OFr çuete, dim. of choë, choue "jackdaw")
  • kōwa, kāwa "chough, jackdaw"
MDu couwe "rook", Du kauw, kaauw "chough"not distinguished in Latin: L būbō "owl", ōtus "eared owl", ulula "screech owl", ulucus likewise "screech owl" (cf. Sp loco "crazy"), noctua "night owl"
cresson "watercress"
  • kresso
MDu kersse, korsse, Du kers, dial. korsL nasturtium, LL berula (but Fr berle "water parsnip")
danser "to dance" (OFr dancier) OHG dansōn "to drag along, trail"; further to MDu densen, deinsen "to shrink back", Du deinzen "to stir; move away, back up", OHG dinsan "to pull, stretch"LL ballare (OFr baller, It ballare, Pg bailar)
déchirer "to rip, tear" (OFr escirer)
  • skerian "to cut, shear"
MDu scēren, Du scheren "to shave, shear"VL extracticāre (Prov estraçar, It stracciare), VL exquartiare "to rip into fours" (It squarciare, but Fr écarter "to move apart, distance"), exquintiare "to rip into five" (Cat/Occ esquinçar)
dérober "to steal, reave" (OFr rober, Sp robar)
  • rōbon "to steal"
MDu rōven, Du roven "to rob"VL furicare "to steal" (It frugare)
écang "swingle-dag"
  • swank "bat, rod"
MDu swanc "wand, rod", Du (dial. Holland) zwang "rod"L pistillum (Fr dial. pesselle "swingle-dag")
écran "screen" (OFr escran) MDu schrank "chassis"; G Schrank "cupboard", Schranke "fence"L obex
écrevisse "crayfish" (OFr crevice)
  • krebit
Du kreeft "crayfish, lobster"L cammārus "crayfish" (cf. Occ chambre, It gambero, Pg camarão)
éperon "spur" (OFr esporon)
  • sporo
MDu spōre, Du spoorL calcar
espier "to spy"
espion "male spy",
espionne "female spy",
espionnage "espionnage"
  • spehōn "to spy"
Du spieden, bespieden "to spy"
escrime "fencing" < italian scrima < OFr escremie from escremir "fight"
  • skirm "to protect"
Du schermen "to fence", scherm "(protective) screen", bescherming "protection", afscherming"shielding"
étrier "stirrup" (OFr estrieu, estrief)
  • stīgarēp, from stīgan "to go up, to mount" and rēp "band"
MDu steegereep, Du stijgreep, stijgen "to rise", steigerenLL stapia (later ML stapēs), ML saltatorium (cf. MFr saultoir)
flèche "arrow"
  • fliukka
MDu vliecke, OS fliuca (MLG fliecke "long arrow")L sagitta (OFr saete, Pg seta)
frais "fresh" (OFr freis, fresche)
  • friska "fresh"
Du vers "fresh", fris "cold"
franc "free, exempt; straightforward, without hassle" (LL francus "freeborn, freedman")
France "France" (OFr Francia)
franchement "frankly"
  • frank "freeborn; unsubjugated, answering to no one", nasalized variant of *frāki "rash, untamed, impudent"
MDu vrec "insolent", Du frank "unforced, sincere, frank", vrank "carefree, brazen", Du Frankrijk "France", Du vrek "miser", OHG franko "free man"L ingenuus "freeborn"
L Gallia
frapper "to hit, strike" (OFr fraper)
  • hrapan "to jerk, snatch"[13]
Du rapen "gather up, collect", G raffen "to grab"L ferire (OFr ferir)
frelon "hornet" (OFr furlone, ML fursleone)
  • hurslo
MDu horsel, Du horzelL crābrō (cf. It calabrone)
freux "rook" (OFr frox, fru)
  • hrōk
MDu roec, Du roeknot distinguished in Latin
galloper "to gallop"
  • wala hlaupan "to run well"
Du wel "good, well" + lopen "to run"
garder "to guard"
  • wardōn
MDu waerden "to defend", OS wardōnL cavere, servare
gant "gauntlet"
  • want
Du want "gauntlet"
givre "frost (substance)"
  • gibara "drool, slobber"
EFris gever, LG Geiber, G Geifer "drool, slobber"L gelū (cf. Fr gel "frost (event); freezing")
glisser "to slip" (OFr glier)
  • glīdan "to glide"
MDu glīden, Du glijden "to glide"; Du glis "skid"; G gleiten, Gleis "track"ML planare
grappe "bunch (of grapes)" (OFr crape, grape "hook, grape stalk")
  • krāppa "hook"
MDu crappe "hook", Du (dial. Holland) krap "krank", G Krapfe "hook", (dial. Franconian) Krape "torture clamp, vice"L racemus (Prov rasim "bunch", Cat raïm, Sp racimo, but Fr raisin "grape")
gris "grey"
  • grîs "grey"
Du grijs "grey"cinereus "ash-coloured, grey"
guérir "to heal, cure" (OFr garir "to defend")
guérison "healing" (OFr garison "healing")
  • warjan "to protect, defend"
MDu weeren, Du weren "to protect, defend", Du bewaren "to keep, preserve"L sānāre (Sard sanare, Sp/Pg sanar, OFr saner), medicāre (Dalm medcuar "to heal")
guerre "war"
  • werra "war"
Du war "chaos", verwarren "to confuse"L bellum
guigne "heart cherry" (OFr guisne) G Weichsel "sour cherry", (dial. Rhine Franconian) Waingsl, (dial. East Franconian) Wassen, Wachsennon-native to the Mediterranean
haïr "to hate" (OFr haïr "to hate")
haine "hatred" (OFr haïne "hatred")
  • hatjan
Du haten "to hate", haat "hatred"L odium
hanneton "cockchafer"
  • hāno "rooster" + -eto (diminutive suffix) with sense of "beetle, weevil"
Du haan "rooster", leliehaantje "lily beetle", bladhaantje "leaf beetle", G Hahn "rooster", (dial. Rhine Franconian) Hahn "sloe bug, shield bug", Lilienhähnchen "lily beetle"LL bruchus "chafer" (cf. Fr dial. brgue, beùrgne, brégue), cossus (cf. SwRom coss, OFr cosson "weevil")
haubert "hauberk"
  • halsberg "neck-cover"[15]
Du hals "neck" + berg "cover" (cf Du herberg "hostel")
héron "heron"
  • heigero, variant of *hraigro
MDu heiger "heron", Du reiger "heron"L ardea
houx "holly"
  • hulis
MDu huls, Du hulstL aquifolium (Sp acebo), later VL acrifolium (Occ grefuèlh, agreu, Cat grèvol, It agrifoglio)
jardin "garden" (VL hortus gardinus "enclosed garden", Ofr jardin, jart)[16] [17]
  • gardo "garden"
Du gaard "garden", boomgaard "orchard"; OS gardo "garden"L hortus
lécher "to lick" (OFr lechier "to live in debauchery")
  • leccōn "to lick"
MDu lecken, Du likken "to lick"L lingere (Sard línghere), lambere (Sp lamer, Pg lamber)
maçon "bricklayer" (OFr masson, machun)
  • mattio "mason"[18]
Du metsen "to mason", metselaar "masoner"; OHG mezzo "stonemason", meizan "to beat, cut", G Metz, Steinmetz "mason"VL murator (Occ murador, Sard muradore, It muratóre)
maint "many" (OFr maint, meint "many")
  • menigþa "many"
Du menig "many", menigte "group of people"
marais "marsh, swamp"
  • marisk "marsh"
MDu marasch, meresch, maersc, Du meers "grassland", (dial. Holland) marsL paludem (Occ palun, It palude)
maréchal "marshal"
maréchausse "military police"
  • marh-skalk "horse-servant"
ODu marscalk "horse-servant" (marchi "mare" + skalk "servant"); MDu marscalc "horse-servant, royal servant" (mare "mare" + skalk "serf"); Du maarschalk "marshal" (merrie "mare" + schalk "comic", schalks "teasingly")
osier "osier (basket willow); withy" (OFr osière, ML auseria) MDu halster, LG dial. Halster, Hilster "bay willow"L vīmen "withy" (It vimine "withy", Sp mimbre, vimbre "osier", Pg vimeiro, Cat vímet "withy"), vinculum (It vinco "osier", dial. vinchio, Friul venc)
patte "paw"
  • pata "foot sole"
Du pets "strike"; LG Pad "sole of the foot";[20] further to G Patsche "instrument for striking the hand", Patschfuss "web foot", patschen "to dabble", (dial. Bavarian) patzen "to blot, pat, stain"[21] LL branca "paw" (Sard brànca, It brince, Rom brîncă, Prov branca, Romansh franka, but Fr branche "treelimb")
poche "pocket" MDu poke, G dial. Pfoch "pouch, change purse"L bulga "leather bag" (Fr bouge "bulge"), LL bursa "coin purse" (Fr bourse "money pouch, purse", It bórsa, Sp/Pg bolsa)
riche "rich"
  • riki "rich"
MDu rike, Du rijkL ŏpĭpărus
sale "dirty"
  • salo "pale, sallow"
MDu salu, saluwe "discolored, dirty", Du zaluwL succidus (cf. It sucido, Sp sucio, Pg sujo, Ladin scich, Friul soç)
salle "room"
  • sala "hall, room"
Du zaal
saule "willow" OHG salaha, G Salweide "pussy willow", OE sealhL salix "willow" (OFr sauz, sausse)
saisir "to seize, snatch; bring suit, vest a court" (ML sacīre "to lay claim to, appropriate")
  • sakan "to take legal action"[22]
Du zeiken "to nag, to quarrel", zaak "court case", OS sakan "to accuse", OHG sahhan "to strive, quarrel, rebuke", OE sacan "to quarrel, claim by law, accuse";VL aderigere (OFr aerdre "to seize")
standard "standard" (OFr estandart "standard")
  • standhard "stand hard, stand firm"
Du staan (to stand) + hard "hard"
tamis "sieve" (It tamigio)
  • tamisa
MDu temse, teemse, obs. Du teems "sifter"L crībrum (Fr crible "riddle, sift")
tomber "to fall" (OFr tumer "to somersault")
  • tūmōn "to tumble"
Du tuimelen "to tumble", OS/OHG tūmōn "to tumble",L cædere (obsolete Fr cheoir)
trêve "truce"
  • treuwa "loyalty, agreement"
Du trouw "faithfulness, loyalty"L pausa (Fr pause)
troène "privet" (dialectal truèle, ML trūlla)
  • trugil "hard wood; small trough"
OHG trugilboum, harttrugil "dogwood; privet", G Hartriegel "dogwood", dialectally "privet", (dial. Eastern) Trögel, archaic (dial. Swabian) Trügel "small trough, trunk, basin"L ligustrum
tuyau "pipe, hose" (OFr tuiel, tuel)
  • þūta
MDu tūte "nipple; pipe", Du tuit "spout, nozzle"L canna "reed; pipe" (It/SwRom/FrProv cana "pipe")

See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. Book: Green, D.H.. The continental Saxons from the migration period to the tenth century: an ethnographic perspective. Frank Siegmund; Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Social Stress. Woodbridge. Suffolk. 2003. Studies in historical archaeoethnology, v.6. 19. There has never been such a thing as one Frankish language. The Franks spoke different languages..
  2. G. Janssens & A. Marynissen, Het Nederlands vroeger en nu (2nd ed., 2005), 54.
  3. de Vries, Jan W., Roland Willemyns and Peter Burger, Het verhaal van een taal, Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2003, pp. 12, 21-27
  4. Besides modern loan words, English also influenced French in earlier times, with Old English for example replacing the Latin words for the four cardinal directions: nord "north", sud "south", est "east" and ouest "west".
  5. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/508379/Romance-languages/74738/Vocabulary-variations?anchor=ref603727
  6. [:wa:Etimolodjeye francike#Djivêye di mots walons d' etimolodjeye francike|See a list of Walloon names derived from Old Frankish]
  7. http://www.encyclo.nl/zoek.php?woord=vrank
  8. Because the expected outcome of *aliso is *ause, this word is sometimes erroneously attributed to a Celtic cognate, despite the fact that the outcome would have been similar. However, while a cognate is seen in Gaulish Alisanos "alder god", a comparison with the treatment of alis- in alène above and -isa in tamis below should show that the expected form is not realistic. Furthermore, the form is likely to have originally been dialectal, hence dialectal forms like allie, allouche, alosse, Berrichon aluge, Walloon: al'hî, some of which clearly point to variants like Gmc *alūsó which gave MHG alze (G Else "whitebeam").
  9. Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. "bastard" (NY: Gramercy Books, 1996), 175: "[...] perhaps from Ingvaeonic *bāst-, presumed variant of *bōst- marriage + OF[r] -ard, taken as signifying the offspring of a polygonous marriage to a woman of lower status, a pagan tradition not sanctioned by the church; cf. OFris bost marriage [...]". Further, MDu had a related expression basture "whore, prostitute". However, the mainstream view sees this word as a formation built off of OFr fils de bast "bastard, lit. son conceived on a packsaddle", very much like OFr coitart "conceived on a blanket", G Bankert, Bänkling "bench child", LG Mantelkind "mantle child", and ON hrísungr "conceived in the brushwood". Bât is itself sometimes misidentified as deriving from a reflex of Germanic *banstis "barn"; cf. Goth bansts, MDu banste, LG dial. Banse, (Jutland) Bende "stall in a cow shed", ON báss "cow stall", OE bōsig "feed crib", E boose "cattle shed", and OFris bōs- (and its loans: MLG bos, Du boes "cow stall", dial. (Zeeland) boest "barn"); yet, this connection is false.
  10. ML boscus "wood, timber" has many descendants in Romance languages, such as Sp and It boscoso "wooded." This is clearly the origin of Fr bois as well, but the source of this Medieval Latin word is unclear.
  11. Rev. Walter W. Skeat, The Concise Dictionary of English Etymology, s.v. "dance" (NY: Harper, 1898), 108. A number of other fanciful origins are sometimes erroneously attributed to this word, such as VL *deantiare or the clumsy phonetic match OLFrk *dintjan "to stir up" (cf. Fris dintje "to quiver", Icel dynta "to convulse").
  12. Webster's Encyclopedic, s.v. "screen", 1721. This term is often erroneously attached to *skermo (cf. Du scherm "screen"), but neither the vowel nor the m and vowel/r order match. Instead, *skermo gave OFr eskirmir "to fence", from *skirmjan (cf. OLFrk bescirman, Du beschermen "to protect", comp. Du schermen "to fence").
  13. Le Maxidico : dictionnaire encyclopédique de la langue française, s.v. "frapper" (Paris: La Connaissance, 1996), 498. This is worth noting since most dictionaries continue to list this word's etymology as "obscure".
  14. Gran Diccionari de la llengua catalana, s.v. "guinda", http://ec.grec.net/lexicx.jsp?GECART=0072144.
  15. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=hauberk
  16. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=garden&searchmode=none
  17. http://www.etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/gaard1
  18. C.T. Onions, ed., Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, s.v. "mason" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 559. This word is often erroneously attributed to *makjo "maker", based on Isidore of Seville's rendering machio (c. 7th c.), while ignoring the Reichenau Glosses citing matio (c. 8th c.). This confusion is likely due to hesitation on how to represent what must have been the palatalized sound [ts].
  19. Jean Dubois, Henri Mitterrand, and Albert Dauzat, Dictionnaire étymologique et historique du français, s.v. "osier" (Paris: Larousse, 2007).
  20. Onions, op. cit., s.v. "pad", 640.
  21. Skeat, op. cit., s.v. "patois", 335.
  22. Onions, op. cit., s.v. "seize", 807.