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Old French: A Concise Handbook Paperback – 9 Jan 1975

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (9 Jan. 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521098386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521098380
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 637,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Book Description

This book describes the phonology, morphology and syntax of standard Old French, paying attention also to the main dialect forms. Students taking university courses and scholars teaching themselves should find in this book an ideal combination of features in a handy format.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By That Slattery Woman on 13 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The only really affordable Old French textbook out there, it's a good one as long as you're willing to put up with Einhorn's..... weirdness. Instead of using the International Phonetic Alphabet she has simply made up her own, as well as using her own linguistic terminology to describe things (For God's sake, woman, S is not a fricative!!!). She's also very concise to the point of being incomprehensible at times. I use it by going over the tables and then reading the other bits as I do the exercises so I've got some context. Much easier.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Excellent introduction 29 Dec. 2000
By Richard A. Weaver - Published on
Format: Paperback
This compact paperback offers one of the best introductions to the Old French language available.
What makes it particularly valuable to beginners is that it does not presume a prior knowledge of Latin or even modern French, and the exercises (to lessons 1 through 10) have the answers in the back of the book. Valuable feedback for those learning on their own!
It starts with an introduction to the sounds and standard (Francien) orthography. This is followed by a series of graded lessons, sixteen in all, with vocabulary and drills. Later lessons include many sample sentences, with English translations, illustrating points of Old French syntax. The last lesson treats Old French dialects. The book also includes several appendices, the most helpful of which gives most of the forms of irregular verbs in different tenses.
The only drawback that I see is that there are only 3 short reading selections included. But if the student has diligently mastered the grammar in the base lessons, he or she should have a solid base on which to build.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Very Good with great detail, yet easy to understand! 13 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
A very helpful handbook for the learner of Old French or the linguist interested in the evolution and dialects of French, I found it was written in a very easy to understand yet extremely detailed format. It starts off with a good description of the sounds of Old French and how it changed in different periods. The bulk of the book then goes into great detail of the grammar of the language at that time, using great vocabulary for examples and exercises. The grammar sections are arranged in a way so as to start off with simple, commonly used parts of speech and eventually covering everything to irregular verbs, nouns, etc. The final section describes the different dialects of Old French. There are references to the development from Latin to Old French throughout the text. I think this is an excellent book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Too 'Concise' 7 Jan. 2011
By Maelan G - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As other reviewers have mentioned, this book does cover all the basic points of Old French grammar; however, Einhorn's book reads as it was created, the product of a course which she taught on the language. As such, there seems to be some sort of external scheme which would make everything logical and easy to find, if only you knew what that was; as it stands, the book is too concise to fully answer even some basic questions the learner might have.

While the overarching organization of the book is logical, beginning with nouns, moving to adjectives, then onwards to more difficult parts of grammar, within each section the layout's cohesion begins to disintegrate, and information is not presented in a convenient order or format. To find basic information about strong verbs, for instance, you must consult two discontinuous sections on different pages, and some key points--such as the formation of the past participle--are buried off in an appendix. Even after having dug all this up, she does not provide enough detail to understand the formation of, say, the strong perfect, which the exercises then expect you to reproduce. In other words, be prepared to do a lot of digging and a fair amount of inference to get at not only more obscure, but even fundamental, points of grammar. There will not always be answers, even concerning points which she implies you should have learned somehow; this can be extremely frustrating and discouraging, and she does not give you all the necessary tools to complete your knowledge of Old French grammar.

Again, based on the idea of creating a 'concise' book, a lot of information has been crammed into a small space, which can create confusing elements, such as tables giving different 12th and 13th century forms--but in different contexts, so as to reduce the number of tables, but at the expense of clarity. The exercises can be quite helpful, but their quality is not uniform and they can often rely on information which is not actually present; fortunately, they include answers in the back, so you can compare your work and see where it's gone wrong. The glossary is useful but less than complete, lacking some words which appear in the text, and often omitting important information such as the class of a noun or the type of vocalic alternation of a verb.

I am using this book as the text of the graduate-level language course which I am taking this year, and I am certainly learning Old French through it. I would not, however, recommend this book for learning the language on your own, and despite her assumptions, I cannot imagine trying to use it without having a knowledge of French and Latin already, as well as a reasonable amount of linguistics training--many of my classmates are struggling even more with her guidance because of these disadvantages. The information is there, and Einhorn clearly has an intimate grasp of Old French, but be prepared to work very hard to figure it out from this text.
Interesting, Concise, w/ Sometimes Unclear Charts 3 Sept. 2014
By Brooke Morgan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall, very helpful with my Old French Literature course. I've had two years of Mod. French although it was eight years ago, and Einhorn's book clarified some points on grammar issues and vocabulary. However, her charts can be at times alarmingly disorienting; one must pay special attention to the verb charts in order to understand what exactly she is about.
A Very Exciting Find 27 Aug. 2013
By Terrell Rodefer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a dilettante of languages, primarily those of Latin origins. Had 4 years of high school Latin; majored in French as an undergrad with Medieval French as my minor. I chose Old French as my minor because I was curious to see how Latin evolved into modern French. But my curiosity was hardly quenched, as we didn't study the grammar so much to learn where Old French had come from (disintegrating Latin) but where it was going (modern French). None of our texts in any way were grammar books. The only explanations we got were in footnotes where various editors explained curious constructions of Old French so we could understand that particular sentence. We read some of Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, and spent a long time on "The Song of Roland."
But we spent no time learning from whence the language of Old French was derived. So over the years when I've stumbled across a book on the subject of old French, I've eagerly latched onto it in hopes of something more comprehensive than any I've so far discovered. In Einhorn's "Old French - A Concise Handbook" I've at last found the object of my search. It isn't that this handbook explains the Latin roots of the constructions, but it's a true grammar book with so much detail that I can pretty much figure out a lot of it for myself. I've only just received it and have only jumped around in it a bit, but I'm thrilled with the detail and preciseness of the information. For someone with my peculiar proclivities, it's a fun and instructive read.
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