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FRE4014 : Historical Perspectives on the French Language

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Damien Hall
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


•       To give students an appreciation of the historical dimension of the French language
•       To familiarize students with a range of diachronic phenomena from both the internal and external history of French
•       To introduce students to selected frameworks theorizing change in French, and to attendant methodological tools
•       To enable students to pursue further diachronic questions themselves

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered will include most of the following;

1.       What the French spelling system tells us about the history of French
2.       Landmarks in the linguistic history of French
3.       Language contact between England and France
4.       Why are there two pronoun series in French?
5.       Sire vs. seigneur, le vs. lui: Remnants of case in French
6.       Why aimer but amant? Historical perspective on verb morphology
7.       Fainéants and pantacourts: folk etymology
8.       Debates about “good” and “bad” French
9.       How Standard French came about
10.       Enfin, bref, bon: The rise of discourse markers
11.       Aller – ‘to go’ or future tense? Grammaticalization in French

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00PiP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars; PiP
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1671:00167:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
SML8105Issues in the Diachrony of French
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

A mix of lectures, small-group teaching (seminars), and independent study is best suited to the module’s intended learning outcomes.

Lectures are shared with SML8105.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation201M30Seminar presentation and discussion, total 20 mins. Topic to be agreed with seminar leader.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M702,500 words in English
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay is heavily weighted so as to give the highest proportion of marks to a component that students can spend time researching, and where they do not have to feel under pressure to perform in a given short time.

The presentation is assessed so as to give students an incentive to produce a good presentation, which will be able to provoke discussion in the class, and could be useful for their future research (e.g. for the essay). To reflect the fact that 30% of the marks for the module will be gained in a single period of about 20 minutes, the lecturer will be prepared to discuss presentations with students (and indeed will require them to consult him before choosing a topic to present on). Presenters in a given week will be required to present on a topic related to that week’s lectures, or to a previous week’s lectures (but not principally to a future week’s lectures, though forward links can be indicated). Topics are to be identified by the presenters, who must discuss them with the module leader at the start of their preparation.

Resit: Essay, in English, 4,000 words.

Reading Lists