Questions tagged [french]

Romance language, official in 29 states, including France, Belgium and Côte d'Ivoire. For non-linguistic questions about the French language, visit our sister site French Language Stack Exchange.

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6k views

Online etymology dictionaries for French, beyond CNTRL?

Are there etymology dictionaries for French available on the Internet? To wit, what's a French equivalent of http://etymonline.com/? I already know about TLF informatisé (TLFi), but often, it does ...
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2answers
592 views

How did French lose the Latin -v-? [duplicate]

[Source:] Loss of Latin -v- is regular in French in some situations (compare alleger from alleviare; neige from nivea; jeune from juvenis. A different sound evolution from the Latin word yielded ...
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0answers
71 views

How common are indefinite pronouns in creole languages?

I understand that creole languages from all parts of the world share many disparate features. Amongst them, how common are third–person, singular, indefinite pronouns (like the French “on”) in creole ...
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1answer
125 views

How to learn more about contradictory or superfluous affixes efficiently?

Instead of questioning each word's prefixes, how can I learn more productively? E.g. I was researching the etymology of the French verb 'accabler': [I quoted Wiktionary in French; the English ...
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0answers
886 views

'penance' vs 'penitence'

penance (n.) [←] late 13c., "religious discipline or self-mortification as a token of repentance and as atonement for some sin," from Anglo-French penaunce, Old French peneance (12c.), from ...
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0answers
157 views

Why were prefixes repeated as postverbal prepositions?

French: s'abstenir de    Spanish: abstenerse de    English: abstain [from] (v.) [<--] late 14c., "to withhold oneself," from Old French abstenir (14c.), earlier astenir (13c.) "hold (...
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0answers
268 views

Specifics about the impact of natural gender on pronunciation?

What is the difference in pronunciation between women and men when speaking a language, as opposed to the difference in the voice of men and women? The context for the question arises from my looking ...
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1answer
89 views

Did the English 'confer' evolve from the Middle French « conférer » ?

[Etymonline :] 1530s, from Middle French conférer (14c.) "to give, converse, compare," from Latin conferre "to bring together," figuratively "to compare; consult, deliberate, ...
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4answers
9k views

Why there are no grammatical cases in the French language?

As far as I know, the French language is considered as a Romance language, which is derived, in its turn, from the Latin language. The last one has a rich grammatical cases system. I am interested to ...
2
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1answer
393 views

“come” in “become” (English) vs “venir” in “devenir” (French)

In both French and English, the word for become (devenir) includes the word for come (venir), even though the etymologies and words are very different. Why might this be?
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1answer
294 views

How did 'piety = piété' and 'pity = pitié' diverge and evolve?

This Quora question motivated this. Do the Etymonline entries below imply that the connotation changed in Old French (and so even before English)? I pose the question also for the equivalent French ...
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1answer
115 views

How did 'sensuality' evolve to connote lechery? Does 'sensualité'?

Is the French feminine noun sensualité asexual? The English noun is sexual. Why? I heed the Etymological Fallacy. But what are some right ways of interpreting the dchotomy, to make it feel reasonable ...
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1answer
189 views

'scorn': How can a human have horns?

I'm trying to understand both the etymology of 'scorn', (which derives from) that of the Old French 'escarn'. So I'm trying to understand both. [Etymonline for 'scorn (n.)' :] c. 1200, a shortening ...
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3answers
868 views

How does the prefix 'entre' in French's 'entreprendre' compare with the prefix 'under-' in English's 'undertake'?

enterprise (n.) early 15c., "an undertaking," formerly also enterprize, from Old French enterprise "an undertaking," noun use of fem. past participle of entreprendre "...
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1answer
178 views

Etymology of Old French 'escorgier': How does 'bind' evolve to mean 'whip'?

scourge (n.) c. 1200, "a whip, lash," from Anglo-French escorge, back-formation from Old French escorgier "to whip," from Vulgar Latin excorrigiare, from Latin ex- "out, off&...
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1answer
374 views

Where do the spelling rules for French imperatives come from?

French verbs are, for historical reasons, typically grouped into three classes. The loss of final consonants in French has resulted in a serious divergence, wherein the verb conjugation system of the ...
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0answers
153 views

'dispose' vs 'dispose of' & « disposer » vs « disposer de »

[Source:] [D1.] dispose (v.) - (a) to arrange in order; (b) to lean toward or incline (typically used as a past participle). ... [D2.] dispose of (phrasal v.) - (a) to throw away or discard; (b) to ...
2
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1answer
171 views

How to trace Proto-language roots towards English and French?

TL;DR: What resources tie Proto-language roots (eg Proto-Indo-European), to English and French, especially if spelling has changed? I always heed linguistic pitfalls, but I always try to find some ...
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2answers
567 views

Why is 'be' sometimes the auxiliary verb for the present perfect?

1. Why do these 16 verbs require être as the auxiliary verb, to form the passé composé in French? 2. Abbreviated as DMPRRS, these 6 (of the 16) are ambitransitive. When transitive, their auxiliary ...
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1answer
354 views

Latin's excrescent e- in English and French

Etymonline's entry on 'estate' broaches the excrescent e-. Is this excrescence called epenthesis? the later Romans evidently found words beginning insc-, sp-, st-difficult or unpleasant to ...
4
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1answer
178 views

“h” in French words of Germanic / onomatopoeic origin

As I understand it, the [h]-sound in Latin words (habere, prehendere, etc.) was lost before French became a distinct language. But French also has many words of Germanic or onomatopoeic origin that ...
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0answers
140 views

Methods to dissect or parse long, difficult sentences

TL;DR: Only English and French can I manage and so ask for. Instead of repeating 'long, difficult' hereafter, denote it mazy. Mazy sentences still stifle my reading comprehension; so I was gladdened ...
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1answer
198 views

How to understand etymology derived from obscure languages?

This ELU answer corroborates the helpfulness of etymology while heeding the Etymological Fallacy. Since I'm interested in French (which is derived from Latin), I can sometimes apply it to help ...
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1answer
375 views

Why does 'gauche' connote negativity in English and French? [duplicate]

gauche = {adjective} unsophisticated and socially awkward: 1. Why does gauche connote negativity? I read but won't replicate Etymonline here because it doesn't explain its negativity in English, at ...
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2answers
246 views

Why aren't defective words perfected?

Since Académie française superintends French, a solution seems easier (at least to prescribe and enforce) in French; I exemplify with it. Yet I question the same for English. Why hasn't French ...
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2answers
212 views

Is 'identity' a grammatical term?

Originally purposed for this ELL question, the following from this thread claims that which I've greyed. I ask about such a claim for English and French. [User 'RuthP' dated 2012 Dec 26:] That is ...
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0answers
245 views

French letter closings in English?

When I first learned about the Closing Formula for French business letters, I had found them affected and foreign, especially since I haven't seen them in modern English (though I'm unversed in ...
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3answers
481 views

The French of Shakespeare — why does it seem so modern?

In Henry V, Shakesperean English is difficult to understand (even for modern native English speakers -- at least for me) without a good amount of help. However, there are a few scenes conducted ...
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4answers
413 views

Is this natural: gender concord of direct objects with the past participle in French?

Phrases in French like la photo que j'ai prise (instead of que j'ai pris) have always struck me as unnatural. I've heard a lot of French people who fail to follow this rule when speaking spontaneously,...
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1answer
293 views

Was there s-mobile in the PIE root for dog?

I have noticed a striking similarity between the French word chien meaning dog and Russian word щенок "puppy", the both words pronounced exactly the same way except the deminutive suffix -ок in the ...
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2answers
273 views

How to work with an IPA chart?

I am trying to learn French vowel sounds using this IPA chart. My question is about this chart. I use it for the first time and I am interested how comprehensive it is. Does a position at this chart ...
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1answer
3k views

Meaning of the root “ject”

What does the root "ject" mean? It occurs in words such as "subject", "object", "project", "injection", "surjection", "bijection". As far as I know these words came to English from French and, in turn,...
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1answer
1k views

Why has Paris French mostly lost the distinction between /e/ and /ɛ/?

Why has Paris French mostly lost the distinction between /e/ and /ɛ/? As in, the difference between 'Je le ferai' and 'Je le ferais', 'poignée' and 'poignet', or more simply between the é sound and ...
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2answers
5k views

List of French minimal pairs

I recently asked a general question about minimal pairs (i.e. words that differ by one phoneme) and got a link to a website that provides a comprehensive list of English minimal pairs. Is there a ...
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1answer
230 views

Why do Spanish and other Romance Languages use the preposition “a” for culinary styles?

I've looked in the Real Academia Española dictionary and I can't find any information regarding why Spanish uses the preposition a for cooking styles, and I've noticed French and Italian do it too. I ...
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2answers
171 views

German help regarding the origin of a last name [closed]

We are trying to find the origin of our family name. Ending with "AU" I thought it might be maybe of german decent. Our last name is "Arsenau". Any word in german that sounds like "arsen" ? That last ...
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1answer
478 views

Language transfer for second language learners (French-English)

How does language transfer occur from French to English within native french speakers' mind? Can we observe this phenomenon ?
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1answer
524 views

Universals and emphatic pronouns

In (spoken) English, the object pronouns "me/you/her/him/us/them" are, in some sense, the "unmarked" pronouns. (I only claim native knowledge of English as it is spoken in parts of the US). By this I ...
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1answer
181 views

What is the postfix that makes “figurine” diminutive of “figure”?

"figurine" means "little figure". From etymonline: figurine (n.) [Look up figurine at Dictionary.com] 1854, from French figurine (16c.), from Italian figurina, diminutive of figura, from ...
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2answers
249 views

What part of speech is the French “à la mode”?

What is "à la mode" in French? I am thinking it must be an adjective but wondering how this might be represented in an arbre syntagmatique. I am new to linguistics and just trying to get a solid ...
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3answers
787 views

What is the etymological relationship between French “feu”, Lao “ເຝີ” (feu), and Vietnamese “phở”?

In both Lao cuisine and Vietnamese cuisine there exists a noodle dish with a similar name. Lao ເຝີ (feu) and Vietnamese phở. Each Wikipedia article discusses the possibility of the dish/word being ...
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6answers
50k views

Why did England not maintain French as a spoken language?

In many countries around the world, especially in Africa, the people natively speak both an indigenous language and French due to French colonization. The Norman conquest of England left us with many,...
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2answers
3k views

What are the differences between the French and English [i] and how does it affect the perception?

I'm rephrasing my question after (very helpful) comments to my initial version: What are the differences between the [i] produced by French speakers (in French) and English speakers (in English)? ...
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2answers
236 views

How are these rolled “r”s pronounced?

I recently came upon a viral/funny Quebecois video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InMJopurNTE In it, the guy is pronouncing his "r"s (e.g. in gros, bras) very oddly. I can't reproduce this sound, ...
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3answers
1k views

Similarity between Salut in French and Salaam in Arabic

I noticed a similarity between the word Salut in French and the word سلام in Arabic which is pronounced Salaam and they both mean "safety and well-being" and are both used as a general greeting to ...
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4answers
15k views

Why don't the French pronounce consonants at the ends of words?

I am curious what could have caused the shift in pronunciation. I presume it must have occurred after the spelling of words was standardized. According to the History of French wikipedia article, this ...
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2answers
511 views

How does the sound change from L. “benedictionem” to O.Fr. “beneiçon” happen?

benison c.1300, "blessing, beatitude," from O.Fr. beneiçon "blessing, benediction," from L. benedictionem (see benediction). Similarly, the word malison comes in the exact way described above. In ...
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1answer
164 views

Are there ways to infer the ending of the French past participle? [closed]

The French past participle (participe passé) is easily inferable with regard to first and second group verbs: manger -> mangé finir -> fini I would like to know if there is any way to infer the ...
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3answers
497 views

What is the present tense expressing future?

Perhaps this question has been asked before, I may have looked for the wrong terms then because I haven't found the answer. I would like to know more about the usage of the present tense in sentences ...
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5answers
2k views

Plural “you” in different language families connoting respect

I recently found out that French has two different words for "you." From here: Tu is the familiar "you," which demonstrates a certain closeness and informality. ... Vous is the formal "you." It is ...