The modern French language evolved from a Latin dialect spoken in Gaul during the period of the late Roman Empire. That language ultimately became mixed with Old English after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Approximately half of the words in conversational English come from French. So in this episode, we explore the ultimate origins of the early Romance dialect known as ‘Old French.’ We also examine the impact which the early French language had on English. And along the way, we look at the evolution of the Frankish kingdom from Clovis to Charlemagne.
During the period of the Anglo-Saxon migrations, the West Germanic tribes of northern Europe continued to fight for power against the Romans and against each other. This period saw the emergence of the High German dialects, the creation of the Frankish Empire, and the decline of the continental Saxons. We explore the linguistic consequences of these events. We then examine many of the Frankish words which passed into French, and then into English.