Wiktionary:About Old French

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Old French describes the dialect continuum spoken in northern France between roughly 842 and 1339 (later for Anglo-Norman, see below). Old French can be considered as a single language or as a language continuum, as the language varied from place to place. On Wiktionary, Anglo-Norman is considered a variety of Old French even though it has its own ISO 639-3 code (xno). See below for details.

Criteria for inclusion of termsEdit

Terms must be attestable per Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion between 842 and 1339 AD. From 1339 onward, this is considered Middle French. 842 represents the Oaths of Strasbourg, while the choice is 1340 to align the English Wiktionary with the French Wiktionary. Other than that, the choice of date is somewhat arbitrary.

Because Old French spelling is not standardized, there is a degree of flexibility as to what can be accepted as a citation. For example, prison, prisons, prisun, prisuns, prisoun and prisouns used in running text demonstrating meaning would all be acceptable for citations of prison.

Nouns and adjectivesEdit

Unlike modern French, Old French has a case system for nouns and adjectives; the subject case (nominative and vocative) and the oblique case (everything else). On Wiktionary, noun entries should be under the singular of the oblique case, and pronouns and adjectives under the masculine singular of the oblique case. This is to adhere to the policy of other published Old French dictionaries, such as the Larousse Dictionnaire de l'ancien français jusqu'au milieu du XIVe siècle (Greimas, 1977) and Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle (Godefroy, 1881).

This is also because the oblique case is the one that has survived into modern French. For example, the modern French word for wall (singular) is mur, not murs.


Unlike in Latin, verb definitions should be under the infinitive, and not under the first-person singular indicative. This is the same as Modern French, and Middle French.

Reflexive verbs should not get their own entries, but be listed under the non-reflexive form. For example from esprover:

  1. (reflexive, s'esprover) []

Note that s'esprover does not exist, even as a redirect.


Alternative spellings, if attested should use the {{alternative form of}} template to link to a single attestable spelling. See below.

Words should not be capitalized unless they are almost always capitalized. For example, the common noun amor should not be written Amor even though it is sometimes capitalized in texts to show its importance.

V and U are considered to be distinct letters, as are I and J.


this image of a circa 1300 manuscript of Philippe de Thaon's Bestiaire shows the use of an e with a tilde on (ẽ) to represent the string en (line 3, final word), which should be rendered as cointement, although, cointemẽt is valid as a verifiable manuscript form.

While the issue is somewhat controversial, Old French uses some diacritics (accents). The current consensus is that normalized forms, the ones used by scholars which include additional capital letters and diacritics, should be prioritized as the ones Wiktionary users are most likely to come across. Normalized forms are the ones used in printed books and on the Internet, where non-normalized forms only occur in the original manuscripts.

  1. Diaereses also knowns as tremas are allowed on the vowels, including y (ÿ). Unlike acute accents, these are not universally used in modern transcriptions of Old French, though they are used. Therefore all attested forms are allowed but should link to each other under the alternative forms header. For example teneure can be found as tenëure and teneüre as from a scholarly point of view, it doesn't matter which vowel has the diaeresis on it. The diaeresis is to show that there are two separate syllables as opposed to a diphthong. See modern French teneur. Therefore, diaeresis forms are usually included as alternative forms and use {{U:fro:diaeresis}} to explain this.
  2. Cedillas are allowed on the letter c (ç) immediately before a, o and u.
  3. The acute accent is only used on the letter e, and only on the last letter, or second to last letter when the final letter is an s. Valid examples: armé, armés, not valid are armée and armées. This is to align with transcription norms of Old French scholars who type up Old French manuscripts. In such cases, where a final e (or e only followed by s) is pronounced [e], the acute is mandatory.
  4. Graves and circumflexes should not be used.
  5. The ligatures æ and œ are occasionally used.
  6. Tilde forms (see image above) should be rendered without tildes. The tilde represents the letter n (sometimes m before b, m or p). But see manuscript spellings below.
  7. Manuscript spellings (often without any diacritics or capital letters) are allowed. For example, Espaigne links to espaigne as a manuscript for. Evidence of this form can be found here (third page of the Oxford Manuscript of La Chanson de Roland). However a long s (ſ) shall be considered a typographical variant and not a separate letter to the Latin letter s, and is always rendered as s. The same is true of u and v, which shall be considered as separate letters sharing the same glyph. Manuscript forms while valid shall not have priority over normalized forms.

Sound changesEdit

Vulgar Latin Early Old French Old French Late French
jc /jc/ jc /jcʲ/
ka /ka/ ka /tʃa/
ga /ga/ ga /dʒa/
au /au/ au /ɔ/
ae /ae/ ae /ɛ/¹
/o/ /o/ /o/ /u/
dz /dz/ z /z/²
/jej/ /i/
/woj/ /uj/
/fs/ /fs/ /s/
/ps/ /ps/ /s/
/ks/ /ks/ /s/
/ft/ /ft/ /t/
/pt/ /pt/ /t/
/kt/ /kt/ /t/
/ei/ /ei/ /oi/³ /we/
/wo/ /wo/ /we/³
/as/ /as/ /ɑs/
/lc/ /lc/ /lc/ /wc/
/ue/ /ue/ /ue/ /œ/
/eu/ /eu/ /eu/ /œ/
/h/ /h/ /h/

Notes: ¹After a palatal it becomes /jɛ/, and /aj/ before nasals if not after a palatal. ²Unless final. ³Blocked by nasalisation.

Alternative formsEdit

To avoid duplication, alternative forms should have the minimum amount of information possible to link to the main form. For example, this edit of flur:

==Old French==


# {{lb|fro|Anglo-Norman}} {{alternative form of|fro|flor}}

It is customary, but not a rule, to have dialects such Anglo-Norman, Picard (etc.) to link to the Francien norm rather than the other way round. So flur is an alternative form of flor and not the other way around. Note that alternative forms are no in way 'lesser' entries, it's just a way to avoid duplication and eventual divergence of entries, due to editors updating one entry and not the others. Other section that may be added include pronunciation, etymology and descendants when any of these are distinct from the entry being linked to.


Although the International Organization for Standardization attributes the code xno to Anglo-Norman, a community decision was taken on 14 February 2013 to merge Anglo-Norman into Old French. Multitree gives this description of Anglo-Norman:

An extinct language spoken in England. Based upon the Norman dialect of Old French, it developed after the Norman conquest of England into a distinct variety of its own. 12th - 15th centuries AD.

Therefore, the key to determining whether a term is Anglo-Norman is attestation. Is the term attested only in Britain and Ireland, or is it attested in France? Despite Multitree's summary, it's well documented that Anglo-Norman was spoken in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Since scribes transcribe works into their local dialect, a work originating in France transcribed by a Norman scholar in Britain should be considered Anglo-Norman, not continental.

Anglo-Norman entries may be tagged with {{lb|fro|Anglo-Norman}} (or equivalent syntax). Such tagging is for entries that are chiefly or solely Anglo-Norman, not entries used in all varieties of Old French. So sui ((I) am) is not tagged as Anglo-Norman because all varieties use the word.

Since Anglo-Norman was spoken in Britain until the 15th century and the cutoff date for Middle French (Wiktionary:About Middle French) is 1340, Old French and Middle French can be said to exist concurrently. For example in this edit of prefer, it is stated that it is from both Anglo-Norman and Middle French.

For more information, see Appendix:Old French spellings.

Example entryEdit

From this edition (October 2016) of droit:

==Old French==

Inherited from {{inh|fro|la|directus}}.

===Alternative forms===
* {{l|fro|dreit}}
* {{l|fro|droict}}


# [[justice]], [[right]] {{gloss|that which is just}}


# [[right]]; [[correct]]; [[justified]]
# [[right]] {{gloss|on the right-hand side}}

{{fro-decl-adj|ssm=[[droiz]], [[droits]]|opm=droiz, droits|ssf=droite|spf=droites}}


# [[rightly]]; [[justly]]
# [[directly]]

* {{seeCites|fro}}


Due to the small number of entries, and the complicated, regionally based inflections of words, most parts of speech use {{head}} to create their head words, apart from nouns which can use {{fro-noun}}. The template {{fro-decl-noun}} is only used for nouns that have a masculine and a feminine form (see pucel {{fro-decl-adj}} for adjectives where the declension is known.

Appropriate sources for a single mentionEdit

Per WT:CFI#Attestation, dead languages may have entries based on a single mention, if this mention is from "materials deemed appropriate as the only sources for entries based on a single mention". The following are considered such source

  • Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle (Godefroy, Frédéric). Dependent of dates given with the citations, since it does not distinguish between Old and Middle French. The full dictionary is available online here (it is no longer in copyright).
  • http://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/, dependent on the dates given with the citations.
  • http://www.anglo-norman.net. For head-word forms; terms used in citations meet CFI as uses rather than mentions.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit