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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Summary Details

Query:   History of French Textbooks
Author:  Richard Epstein
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Historical Linguistics

Summary:   Several weeks ago, I posted a request for textbooks (written in English)
suitable for use in an undergraduate ''History of the French Language''
course. I would like to thank the following people for their very helpful

Kim Schulte
Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen
Thomas Field
Aidan Coveney

A summary of the recommended books is posted below (the comments came with
the original replies).

Best regards,
Rich Epstein
Dept. of English
Rutgers University - Camden

RICKARD, Peter. 1989. A History of the French Language, 2nd edn. 192pp.
London: Routledge. ISBN: 041510887X

R. A. LODGE: French: from Dialect to Standard (Routledge) [also available
in French]

G. PRICE: The French Language: Present and Past (Grant and Cutler, 1984) -
quite detailed on both phono and gramm change; includes a very brief intro
to phonetics.

AYRES-BENNETT, W. (1996) A History of the French Language through Texts.
London: Routledge.

POSNER, Rebecca. 1997. Linguistic Change in French. Oxford, Clarendon
Press. 530pp. ISBN: 0198240368. (a superb overview of most key aspects of
internal history and external history informed by soiciolingistics. For
advanced students and postgrads).

Exploring the French Language, ed. by R. Anthony Lodge, Nigel Armstrong,
Yvette M. L. Ellis and Jane F. Shelton. ISBN13: 9780340676622; ISBN10:
0340676620 paper, 224 pages. Dec 1997. A Hodder Arnold Publication.

Some useful French books:
Ada Giusti: 'La langue francaise' (Flammarion) - brief, mostly external

Mireille Huchon: Histoire de la langue francaise (Livre de Poche) -
external and internal; v good value for money, but does presuppose some
knowledge of phonetics at least.

Henriette Walter: Le Francais dans tous les sens (Laffont; also in English)
- quite easy; both external and internal. (French inside out : the
world-wide development of the French language in the past, present and the
future / Henriette Walter ;translated by Peter Fawcett. London ; New York:
Routledge, c1994. pp. 279).

Christiane Marchello-Nizia: Le francais dans l'histoire (pp. 11-90 in 'Le
Grand Livre de la langue francaise', ed M.Yaguello; Seuil) - internal, with
good use of texts; v clear and authoritative, not excessively technical.

Jacques Chaurand ed. 'Nouvelle Histoire de la l. fr' (Seuil) - chapters by
a range of experts on the various periods, covering both external and
internal history.

LL Issue: 17.2134
Date Posted: 24-Jul-2006
Original Query: Read original query


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