Wiktionary:About Old French

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Old French describes the dialect continuum spoken in northern France between roughly 842 and 1400. Old French can be considered as a single language or as a language continuum, as the language varied from place to place. Anglo-Norman is considered a variety of Old French. Although it has its own ISO 639-3 code xno, this is not used on Wiktionary.

Criteria for inclusion of terms[edit]

Terms must be attestable per Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion between 842 and 1339AD. From 1340 onward, this is considered Middle French. 842 represents the Oaths of Strasbourg, while the choice is 1340 to align the English Wiktionary with the French Wiktionary. Other than that, the choice of date is somewhat arbitrary.

Because Old French spelling is not standardized, there is a degree of flexibility as to what can be accepted as a citation. For example, prison, prisons, prisun, prisuns, prisoun and prisouns used in running text demonstrating meaning would all be acceptable for citations of prison.

Nouns and adjectives[edit]

Unlike modern French, Old French has a case system for nouns and adjectives; the subject case (nominative) and the oblique case (everything else). On Wiktionary, entries should be under the masculine singular of the oblique case (when a masculine form exists). This is to adhere to the policy of other published Old French dictionaries, such as the Larousse Dictionnaire de l'ancien français jusqu'au milieu du XIVe siècle (Greimas, 1977) and Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle (Godefroy, 1881).

This is also because the oblique case is the one that has survived into modern French. For example, the modern French word for wall (singular) is mur, not murs.


Unlike in Latin, verb definitions should be under the infinitive, and not under the first-person singular indicative. This is the same as Modern French, and Middle French.

Reflexive verbs should not get their own entries, but be listed under the non-reflexive form. For example from esprover:

  1. (reflexive, s'esprover) []

Note that s'esprover does not exist, even as a redirect.


Alternative spellings, if attested should use the the {{alternative form of}} template to link to a single attestable spelling. See below.

Words should not be capitalized unless they are almost always capitalized. For example, the common noun amor should not be written Amor even though it is sometimes capitalized in texts to show its importance.

V and U are considered to be distinct letters, as are I and J.


While the issue is somewhat controversial, Old French uses some diacritics (accents).

  1. Diaereses also knowns as tremas are allowed on the vowels, including y (ÿ). Unlike acute accents, these are not universally used in modern transcriptions of Old French, though they are used. Therefore all attested forms are allowed but should link to each other under the alternative forms header. For example teneure can be found as tenëure and teneüre as from a scholarly point of view, it doesn't matter which vowel has the diaeresis on it. The diaeresis is to show that there are two separate syllables as opposed to a diphthong. See modern French teneur.
  2. Cedillas are allowed on the letter c (ç).
  3. The acute accent is only used on the letter e, and only on the last letter, or second to last letter when the final letter is an s. Valid examples: armé, armés, not valid are armée and armées. This is to align with transcription norms of Old French scholars who type up Old French manuscripts.
  4. Graves and circumflexes should not be used.
  5. The ligatures æ and œ are occasionally used.

Alternative forms[edit]

To avoid duplication, alternative forms should have the minimum amount of information possible to link to the main form. For example, this edit of flur:

==Old French==


# {{context|Anglo-Norman|lang=fro}} {{alternative form of|flor|lang=fro}}

It is customary, but not a rule, to have dialects such Anglo-Norman, Picard (etc.) to link to the Parisian norm rather than the other way round. So flur is an alternative form of flor and not the other way around. Note that alternative forms are no in way 'lesser' entries, it's just a way to avoid duplication and eventual divergence of entries, due to editors updating one entry and not the others. Other section that may be added include pronunciation, etymology and descendants when any of these are distinct from the entry being linked to.

Example entry[edit]

From this edition of droit:

==Old French==

{{etyl|la|fro}} {{m|la|directus}}.

===Alternative forms===
* {{l|fro|dreit}}
* {{l|fro|droict}}


# [[justice]], [[right]] {{gloss|that which is just}}


# [[right]]; [[correct]]; [[justified]]
# [[right]] {{gloss|on the right-hand side}}

{{fro-decl-adj|ssm=[[droiz]] or [[droits]]|opm=droiz or droits|ssf=[[droite]]|spf=[[droites]]}}


# [[rightly]]; [[justly]]
# [[directly]]

* {{seeCites|lang=fro}}


Due to the small number of entries, and the complicated, regionally based inflections of words, most parts of speech use {{head}} to create their head words, apart from nouns which can use {{fro-noun}}. The template {{fro-decl-noun}} is only used for nouns that have a masculine and a feminine form (see pucel {{fro-decl-adj}} for adjectives where the declension is known.

Appropriate sources for a single mention[edit]

Per WT:CFI#Attestation, dead languages may have entries based on a single mention, if this mention is from "materials deemed appropriate as the only sources for entries based on a single mention". The following are considered such source

  • Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle (Godefroy, Frédéric). Dependent of dates given with the citations, since it does not distinguish between Old and Middle French. The full dictionary is available online here (it is no longer in copyright).
  • http://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/, dependent on the dates given with the citations.
  • http://www.anglo-norman.net. For head-word forms; terms used in citations meet CFI as uses rather than mentions.

See also[edit]