Gerold Firl (
19 Jul 1995 13:06:19 -0700

In article <> writes:

>NE>The german conquest of modern france does not appear to have left a
>NE>significant linguistic impact on french; why was gallic given-up for latin,
>NE>but latin retained when german became the language of the ruling class?

>You are speaking, I presume, of the Franks, a horde (I resist calling
>them a tribe, as they weren't that well organized then) from east of the
>Rhine, who poured into northern France from 400-800 AD.

Franks, visigoths, burgundians, to name the most prominent.

I'm curious about your statement re frankish organization. Why do you say
that? The image you appear to hold of a "horde" as a mass of howling
maniacs is charmingly romantic, but hardly accurate. Nonetheless, I'd like
to know something about the origins of your comment.

>enough there has always been a noticeable difference between the French
>languages of the north and the south of France, the southern version
>retaining more Latinate characteristics.

I hadn't heard that before. In what way is provencal more latinate than
standard french? My impression is that provencal is sort of an intermediate
between french and catalan; is catalan more latinate than provencal? If so,
can we extrapolate through to spanish?

>immigrated into the more technologically advanced culture, assuming its
>language and mores.

I would say that the franks adopted little of the roman mores, even if they
did adopt the language. The code of chivalry which was developed on
french territory in the high middle ages owes much to celtic culture; the
british contribution is clear, the gallic more problematic. Chivalry
flourished among the germanic aristocracy of europe; it did not apply to
the peasants, and never really caught-on in italy.

Of course, the germans did adopt christinaity after entering formerly roman
territory, but thathad little effect on mores until much later.

>For one thing, the precise nature of Latin inflections denoting person,
>case, gender, mood, tense, etc., rapidly disappeared, tending toward the
>Germanic system of using position, connectors, and modifiers to denote
>this meanings.


>Ambitious people
>learn to speak the language of the guys with the money.

As I understand it, typical practice for the barbarian germans was to take
half of the land for themselves, and leave half under the control of the
previous owners. They would also leave the pre-existing judicial structure
in place, and use the incumbant beureacrats for administration. Add the
church into the balance, and we have a strong set of well-entrenched
official entities using latin.

I wonder how long it took before the frankish court was speaking french? At
the time of charlemagne, around 800, the center of gravity for the frankish
people was still in the rhineland. The palace of charlemagne, who should
probably be called karl der grosse, was at aachen; I would expect that the
frankish tongue was still german at that time.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf