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The French language is a part of the Indo-European language family. Before the evolution of French, history has shown that French has descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire during the colonization of Gaul. The Celts had been lived in Gaul for years until the arrival of Romans. Romans had brought up their language with their arrival. According to Peter Rickard statement “In the newly conquered territory, Gauls of any rank who had anything to do with administration and supply soon found that they had an incentive to learn Latin”. With the popularity of Latin, Latin had slowly replaced the original language Celtic. Apart from Roman settlers, the upper class of Gaul sent their children to Roman schools to learn Latin. On the other hand, the middle class and the lower class of Gaul could speak both Latin and Gaulish. Gaulish had been spoken for a long period time, however, which went extinction after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the late 6th century. Although the colonization of Roman and the spread of Latin, the existence of Gaulish had functioned on shaping the dialects of Latin into the development of French. Influencing the development of French in the aspects of loanwords and sound changes.
There are three forms of French, including Old French, Middle French, and Modern French which most people are speaking nowadays. Old French developed from a language which was known as langue d’oïl spoken in the north part after the invasion of Germanic in Gaul. Peter Rickard stated that “It seems clear that in the north, German peoples settled in greater numbers than in the south”. During the development of Old French, the characteristics of Old French were also found common in Latin. Wendy Ayres-Bennett showed that “Thus, for example, the fact that words derived from Latin –ente(m) and –ante(m) assonate in the Chanson de Roland has been taken as evidence that [e] had already lowered to [a] by the early twelfth century”. At the beginning of the 14th century, the transition of Old French to Middle French began, which was a stage between instability of Old French and stability of Modern French. Middle French’s syntax has always been considered as complex and unclear. The syntax of Middle French, there was a loss of the case system that any systematic use of the two-case system was longer found. Another loss of Middle French was the use of articles, noun declensions were lost and markers of gender and number have remained. Modern French has slowly appeared during the 17th century, and it took place of Latin as functioning for diplomacy use. Modern French once was used as lingua franca before the appearance of English.
Modern French took an important role as being lingua franca before the prosperity of the United States, the use of English has replacing Modern French to be the dominant language. Despite the replacement of Modern French, it still serves not just for individuals but also serves as an official language in governmental and educational use. Online News shows that there are about 300 million speakers who speak Modern French in the world and it ranks 5th in the world language. Adrian Battye, Marie-Anne Hintze and Paul Rowlett demonstrated that “The perception that French fulfils a special role as a world language, second only to English”.
The most found Modern French speakers are in Africa. France has even mandated that Modern French as the official language, it is also the second most used language in Canada and the fourth most-spoken language in America. In the Asia area, Modern French can be easily found in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. French is even recognized as an official language for Vanuatu, almost half of the populations there are speaking French.
There are two criteria of consonants needed to be classified: the place of articulation and manner of articulation. According to Adrian Battye, Marie-Anne Hintze and Paul Rowlett “the manner of articulation of a consonant relates to how the airstream is impeded or obstructed as it passes through the vocal tract”. French consonants are generated through the blocking of airstream in the oral cavity, which are recognized stops. Various stops are found in French, there are velar stops, bilabial stops, palatal and dental stops. For instance, the bilabial consonants [p] and [b], which can be referred to pas and bas, they are vocalized through blocking and releasing by using the lips. Vowels of French, it has shown that there are numerous vowels, the maximum vowels in French are seventeen units, French vowels are also produced with the vibrations of the vocal. However, the distinction of each vowel depends on the shape of the mouth and the throat. Adrian Battye, Marie-Anne Hintze and Paul Rowlett stated “They are produced with the velum lowered, thus allowing air to escape through both the nasal and oral cavities”. Moreover, there is only a little change in the rhythm of the syllable in French and French uses rhythmic stress for indicating sense group boundaries.
French has 130 graphemes which only express 36 phonemes. Putting suffixes and prefixes in French is also the rule of forming French word. Take the word avocates as an example, this word has three components: root, gender, and number. Component [-e-] and [-s-] in avocates is put as suffixes. However, there are morphemes are put in front of the root, which is known as prefixes. Nouns and some pronouns in French, which are not inflected for number. Grammatical gender is shown in French that either masculine or feminine. Though, plural will be identified for both females and males in masculine. Moreover, an agreement has shown in determiners and articles that can be found in gender and number. Three articles in French, which are definite, indefinite, and partitive. Masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural, and feminine plural are also can be seen in French adjectives. The functions of them are different. Adverbs in French share the similarity with English as they function as modifying adjectives. Adding the suffix in the adjective forms the adverbs, though, not all of the adverbs are generated from adjectives. Usage of the preposition in French connects two components in a sentence, which is placed before the noun for emphasizing the relationship between the noun and the verb. For example, avec (with), de (of, from, about) and dans (in), these are the common found preposition in French. Inflection of pronouns in French is used to demonstrate the role in a clause. Word order in French is SVO, which means subject-verb-object. There is an exception for word order when the question is formed. When forming negation in French, the particle ne is added to the verb.
Indian French, Quebec French, Cajun French, and Jersey Legal French are also viewed as French dialects. Last but not least, lexicology in French has been enriching since it borrows words from other languages, such as English, which has a great impact on French lexical. French word ‘oppotunite’ means exactly ‘opportuneness’ in English.
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