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An Introduction to Old French (Introductions to Older Languages)

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0873522922
ISBN-10: 0873522923
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William W. Kibler is Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. His publications include The Lancelot-Grail Cycle: Texts and Transformations, Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, and Eleanor of Aquitaine: Patron and Politician.

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Product Details

  • Series: Introductions to Older Languages (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 357 pages
  • Publisher: The Modern Language Association of America (January 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873522923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873522922
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #613,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Weaver on March 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
First things first ... this book does NOT have 57 pages...it has over 360 pages. (I hope this mistake hasn't deterred any potential buyers!)
There aren't that many introductory grammars of Old French lying around in English, and fewer yet that don't assume a thorough knowledge of Latin. (Einhorn's Old French is the only other one that comes to mind).
This excellent book is composed of 23 lessons. Each lesson begins with a passage in Old French, and is followed by a section with the appropriate grammar and syntax. Each lesson ends with a section on phonology; they trace the evolution of of the Vulgar Latin sound system into Old French. I think for students of Romance philology, these are worth the price of the book by themselves.
The first 15 lessons cover Le Fresne, by Marie de France, in the standard Francien dialect; later lessons introduce texts in the Anglo-Norman and Picard dialects.
The only drawback that I see in this book is the lack of vocabularies for the individual lessons. Every form of every word used in the lesson readings is included in the glossary in the back, so working through the reading involves looking up EVERY LITTLE WORD that you don't know in the dictionary in the back. Great way to internalize the grammar and learn the vocabulary, but not everyone will have the stomach for this tedious word-by-word torture.
A knowledge of Latin certainly wouldn't hurt, but for the seriously motivated student, this book is the best thing going.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kuru on May 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book provides a functional introduction to Old French for readers who already have at least reading knowledge of modern French. (Reading knowledge of Classical Latin, as opposed to Vulgar Latin, is far less necessary, since Old French is much, much closer to modern French than to Classical Latin.) The book jumps right in with reading passages (not translated) covering a complete "lai" by Marie de France. Old French is close enough to modern French (and even to modern English) that these passages are readable without great confusion, using the concordance at the end of the volume for help. This book does have several weaknesses: (1) Instead of a true vocabulary/glossary, the book provides only a concordance, listing each and every word in the grammatical form in which it appears, with specific line references. While this enables assured translations, it is not a convenient resource for further readings or for vocabulary drills. (2) The phonology sections will be confusing to non-specialists. Since the texts in the book are poetry, a simpler, more straightforward guide to pronounciation and scansion, in Lesson One, would have been nice. (3) The grammatical explanations cover the bases, but are not always as clear as they could be. In particular, explanations of grammatical changes over the language's evolution could more easily have been presented in the form of chronological charts, or one particular form could have been used as a consistent base, with historical variants covered in notes or an appendix.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ksiezycowy on October 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone with an interest in Medieval languages, I of course picked up a copy of this book, and loved it!

The layout of the book is very good. The book is divided into lessons; each give you a text in Old French accompanied with grammar. There are also sections on the relationship between Old French and Latin, which I find very interesting. The only thing you won't find are vocabularies to go with the texts. You are expected to look up words in the glossary, but that is hardly a bother if you really want to learn the language.

The texts given are interesting and enjoyable, and so is the textbook. Overall, I would highly recommend it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Parrhesia on August 11, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with the comments of the other reviewers, particularly with regard to the phonology sections. I had to read them over and over to gain any kind of understanding of the pronunciation - very time wasting. What this book is really screaming out loud for is an accompanying CD with someone competent reading the Lay du Fresne (if a picture is worth a 1,000 words, a CD must be worth 10,000). The lack thereof is surprising since a similar book on Old Occitan by the same publisher has one. A hardback version would be nice too. The best CD that I have found for pronunciation presents a performance of another lai by Marie de France, namely Chevrefoil, and is performed by Istanpitta.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ciel Dafford on August 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
I bought this to try to teach myself Old French for graduate school. An immense undertaking that never really happened (not the book's fault though!), but nonetheless, this book is very straightforward and, if a little dry, is full of primary sources for reading samples. It's a very good textbook.
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