Request for variant subtag fr 16th-c 17th-c RESUBMISSION

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Sat Jan 27 21:25:15 CET 2007

Hi!  My responses are below!
Basically I was able to catalogue three main varieties of 17th century 
French texts; I am sure there are more! But these may be the main texts.  I 
do not have texts of any Creole French developing in the Caribbean; the only 
French Creole developing on the North American continent was a mix of French 
with English (the French-English traders were interracting, squabbling) 
which includes Native vocabulary; there were few Africans on the Continent 
though there must have been some in the Caribbean as that is apparently a 
place where the colony of Carolina could go to exchange Natives captured 
around the Carolina who might run away or cause trouble for slaves of 
African ancestry who would not know their way around the Carolinas.

See below for more:
>CE Whitehead responded to a message of mine:
> > >But I am struggling to see how the currently proposed (single-prefix)
> > >will help with these objectives.  They are "frm-1606Nict" or
> > >"frm-16siecle";
> > >"fr-1694acad" or "fr-17siecle"; and plain old "frm" and "fr".
> > >
Really even in early 16th century texts (such as Rabelais, 1532; see ) French is quite different 
than it was in the 15th century.

In fact Rabelais texts seems to me to be like the French in the later texts 
from this century (from the Pleiade, from Montaigne)
except I notice some odd insertions of l after au before c, t, etc:

aucune (fr modern, "not one") > aulcune (Rabelais)
autre (fr modern, "other") > aultre (Rabelais)

(See Spécificités du corpus Rabelais par rapport au corpus XVIe du 
"Le vocabulaire spécifique."
"Spécificités du corpus Rabelais par rapport au corpus XVIe du 
"DEFICITS ordre alphabétique"

Many 17th century texts from France, such as Moliere's
(1665) "Dome Juan ou le festin de Pierre"
are just like the texts from the Pleiade and Montaigne!!

There is no distinction.

But given the limitations that have been imposed on me, there is no way to 
show this;
however I (who am sometimes a pragmatist rather than an idealist)
felt it would be better to have subtags for the 16th and 17th centuries to 
allow the French in these centuries to be distinguished from the French that 
precedes these and follows these,
regardless of what the subtags might/might not show.

But you are right: The tag description or comments will really have to 
include something to show that the French in these 2 centuries can be the 

17th century French can really be divided into three groups:

A.  French that is essentially late 16th century:

* 1606  Marc Lescarbot's "Théâtre de Neptune," with classical and North 
American elements, which was the first French play to be presented in North 
America and focused on North American content (so this would be the 
difference between Lescarbot and Moliere below but actually Moliere's plays 
can mention life in the Americas as well:

* 1665 Moliere's "Dome Juan ou le festin de Pierre"

B.  French that is essentially modern though there may be differences in 
vocabulary, especially in the way it is used, in the way people present 
themselves (
occasionally there may be a minor differences in spelling though not 
apparently in pronunciation;
in particular, this includes French from the literary salons as well as the 
so-called 'rentable' texts and satires of the courtly circles:

* 1668-1694 Jean de la Fontaine--fables/satire, 'rentable texts;' he "must 
be ranked with Racine as a poet and with the great moralists, is one of the 
masters of the age. In his Fables (1668–94) he used the framework of the 
moral fable of Aesop. He brought to each fable, however, the ease and 
narrative interest of the short story. The use of animals as characters in 
an age of censorship enabled him to give free reign to his wit, fancy, 
humor, and observation on human weaknesses."
(once or twice I found a spelling only variation, no changes in 
pronunciation from modern French)

* 1678  Mme de La Fayette "La Princesse de Cleves"

* 1690's Charles Perrault (gathered up old folktales and retold them, told 
medieval-like legends,
his writing marked a departure for sure from the enthusiasm for the 
classical of the 16th century!)

C.  French that mixes elements of 16th century French, 15th century or 
earlier French, and modern French, and that may have irregular spellings and 
irregular use of accent marks, plus has some mixed French-English terms 
(such as "traitta" I  think-- English 'treated' from treaty; this is the 
French word treat, the regular simple past, but treaty would be something 
else in French; ) and many Native terms (such as "canot," for 'canoe') such 
as the text of Nicholas de la Salle le jeune, which started all this trouble

* 1684 Nicholas de la Salle

(there may also be a French Creole with elements of African languages 
developing in the Caribbean but I have no examples of it in writing to cite; 
if you have it would be great)

If we covered the latter instance with the subtag:

Type: region
Subtag: 021
Description: Northern America

What would we do then with
Lescarbot's "Théâtre de Neptune"

The comment line in the subtag registration is one place to deal with this.
The only one we are allowed perhaps.  Or at least the easiest place to deal 
with this.

I've got to come up with better comments that include more of this.
All the variants are in the 1694 dicitonary!!! (Just amazing!)
for the subtag:

perhaps I could get all this in:

Comments:  several varieties of French, including the variety used in the 
16th century, a more modern variety (essentially modern, save differences in 
usage), and other more irregular varieties with elements of 15th century 
French, as well as 16th century French.

for 1606Nict

we just might need to say that it is more modern than 15th century French 
and that similar French continues to be spoken in the 17th century.

(Also I thought about your question about how to distinguish a translation?  
Is there any point in adopting a variant subtag such as transl or trans
that says that a text is a translation; thus it could contain archaic 
vocabulary, etc; it could even specify the original language in case the 
person who retrieves the text wants to look at texts in the orginal??  just 
a thought.)

--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at

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