FRE4014 : Historical Perspectives on the French Language

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


•       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 may vary, but will typically include 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 ActivitiesLecture11:001:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1161:00161:00N/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.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation302M30A presentation given in the seminars on a relevant topic to be agreed between student and seminar leader.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A702,500 words, in English.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MMock
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Since the learning outcomes are a mix of academic knowledge and academic skills, some of the latter more technical, some more discursive, a combination of exam and essay is best suited to assessing the breadth of learning outcomes.

Reading Lists