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French Linguistics

Please direct all comments or requests for information to Paula Carns, Librarian for French Language and Literature (333-0076) • pcarns@illinois.edu

Introduction to Linguistics

Guide to the study of general linguistics

Germain, Claude and Raymond LeBlanc. Introduction à la linguistique générale . 6 vols. Montréal: Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1981-1983.

These six slim volumes provide a good French-language introduction to the major divisions of linguistics: Vol. 1: La phonétique; Vol.  2: La phonologie; Vol. 3: La morphologie; Vol. 4: La syntaxe; Vol. 5: La sémantique; Vol. 6: La sémiologie de la communication. Structuralist, functionalist and generativist theories are considered, and exercises are provided.

Dubois, Jean et al. Dictionnaire de linguistique et des sciences du langage . Paris: Larousse, 1994.

French-language definitions of grammatical and linguistic terms, alphabetically arranged. Major topics have longer explanatory entries.


Articles and Books

Article Indexes

MLA Bibliography via Online Journals & Databases *Available only to UIUC Affiliates.*

FRANCIS via Online Journals & Databases *Available only to UIUC Affiliates.*

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA) via Online Journals & Databases *Available only to UIUC Affiliates.*

Bibliographie Linguistique . Annual. 1939-. Also available online from 1993 to the present

Brill's Online Linguistic Bibliography Covers books, reviews of books, and articles in journals for all linguistic topics. Specific sections for French (Old, Middle, Modern) as well as Gallo-Romance, Occitan and Provençal. Good coverage, but the print bibliography has not been published in a timely fashion.


To find books, use the Library's Online Catalog


Monolingual dictionaries (French only)

Online Dictionaries

Grand Corpus des dictionnaires (French Language historical dictionaries, 9e-20e s.), includes a number of French historical dictionaries.

Le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (TLFi). a  dictionary of 19th- and 20th-century.

Dictionnaires Larousse en ligne--provides  French language dictionaries for synonyms & antonyms, expressions, homonyms, quotes, and verb conjugations.

Print Dictionaries

Villers, Marie-Éva de.  Multi-Dictionnaire de la langue française: Orthographe, Grammaire, Difficultés, Conjugaison, Synonymes, Anglicismes, Typographie, Québécismes, Abbréviations, Correspondance 3rd edition.  Montréal:  Éditions Québec-Amérique, 1997.  1532 pp.

Detailed entries include notes on grammatical usage and common mistakes, models of conjugation and exceptions to note, synonyms and antonyms, rules of capitalization, and related franglais and québécois terms.

Le Grand Robert de la langue française . 2nd ed. 9 vols. Paris: Le Robert, 1985.

The unabridged multi-volume parent of the popular Petit Robert, Micro-Robert, etc. Includes synonyms and antonyms in the entries.

Le Robert méthodique: dictionnaire méthodique du français actuel . Ed. by Josette Rey-Debove. Paris: Le Robert, 1982.  

In addition to defining words of the language, this dictionary lists and defines word morphemes in the main alphabetical sequence. Learners can become familiar with the sense-making building-blocks of French words.

Bilingual dictionaries (French-English, English-French)

  Larousse Grand dictionnaire: français-anglais, anglais-français. Unabridged edition. Paris: Larousse, 2010.

The newest unabridged dictionary from Larousse provides 1,000,000 words, expressions and translations, and covers specialized vocabulary in 130 subject areas. Additional resources found in the dictionary include: encyclopedic guides to the culture and history of France, a guide to correspondence in the two languages, and helpful tips on grammar and usage for both languages.

The Oxford-Hachette French dictionary: French-English, English-French. Edited by Jean-Benoit Ormal-Grenon, Nicholas Rollin. Oxford: Oxford University Press/Hachette Livre, 2007. 

Compiled from an electronic corpus, this dictionary is quite up-to-date. The middle section contains a guide to correspondence in the two languages.

Collins-Robert French Dictionary . Ed. by Daphne Day et al. 8th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. 2324 pp.  

Another often-used reading and translation tool, comparable in scope to the Oxford-Hachette Dictionary.  Includes many examples of word usage in various contexts, such as common expressions and idioms.

Harrap's French and English business dictionary. Fully rev. ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.

The newest edition of this marketplace standard incorporates a number of terms from the Internet and other aspects of e-commerce, as well as colloquial business terms from fields such as marketing, finance, securities, and transnational trade.  Entries include detailed content notes, and this item also includes a general reference section with an extensive guide to business communication in French and English, advice on working with interpreters, and model financial statements reflecting elements common in both the French and Anglo-American context.  Includes illustrations and a list of sources for the citations used.

Etymological and historical dictionaries

Rey, Alain et al. Dictionnaire historique de la langue française. 3 vols. Paris: Le Robert, 1998.

Gives detailed histories of words, along with embedded mini-articles on language and linguistics topics related to French. The discussion is in French and is less technical than that of the Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (see below), but unlike the FEW the focus is on words which are still in use.

Bloch, Oscar and Walther von Wartburg. Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue française . Paris: Quadridge/Presses Universitaires de France, 2002.

A concise but authoritative single-volume treatment, with explanations in French.

Wartburg, Walther von. Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch . Bonn: Klopp, 1928-- (25 volumes to date).

A classic and respected source for detailed etymologies of words throughout the history of the French language. Explanations are in German.

Cottez, Henri. Dictionnaire des structures du vocabulaire savant: éléments et modèles de formation . Paris: Le Robert, 1980.

Lists and defines the morphemes (essentially Latin and Greek roots) of French learned words. A second section helps to find morphemes by semantic category rather than alphabetically: for example,  "FORCE: Dynamo-; -sthénie".

Huguet, Edmond. Dictionnaire de la Langue Francaise du Seizieme Siecle . Paris: 1925. Also in Grand Corpus des dictionnaires (French Language historical dictionaries, 9e-20e s.)

The Dictionary of French from the 16th Century.

Trésor de la langue française: dictionnaire de la langue du XIXe et du XXe siècle (1789-1960). Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1971.

An extensively searchable version is also available at TLF Online. To see the digitized texts used for the TLF dictionary, visit ArtFL.

Godefroy, Frédéric. Dictionnaire de l'Ancienne Langue Francaise du IXe au XVe Siecle . Paris: 1982. Also in Grand Corpus des dictionnaires (French Language historical dictionaries, 9e-20e s.)

Dictionary of Old French from the 9th to 15th Centuries.


These dictionaries describe the historical and linguistic origins of the names of persons and places.

Names of people (first names and family names)

Lagneau, Philippe. Dictionnaire des noms de famille et des prénoms . Paris: Vernoy-Arnaud de Vesgre, 1980.

Morlet, Marie Thérèse. Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de famille . Paris: Perrin, 1991.

Dauzat. Dictionnaire des noms de famille et prénoms de France . Paris: Larousse, 1951.

Names of places

Dauzat, and Charles Rostaing.  Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de lieux en France. Paris: Larousse, 1963.

The Latin, Germanic, and other origins of place names in France. Completed by the Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de rivières et de montagnes en France (see below).

Dauzat, Albert, Gaston Deslandes and Charles Rostaing. Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de rivières et de montagnes en France. Paris: Klincksieck, 1978.

Adds features of physical geography in France to the previous volume on place names (see above).


Like encyclopedias, these dictionaries include brief explanations or "definitions" of proper nouns: names, places, etc.

Le Petit Robert 2:  Dictionnaire des noms propres Paris:  Le Robert, 2003.

Brief entries on names of famous people and places worldwide.  Includes numerous color illustrations, as well as appendices with demographical information on France based on statistics from 1999.

Larousse encyclopédique illustré . Paris: Larousse, 1997.  

Mixes definitions of common and proper nouns in a compact volume with color illustrations. Useful for quick reference.

Le Grand Robert des noms propres: dictionnaire universel alphabétique et analogique des noms propres . 5 vols. Paris: Le Robert, 1984.  

Extensive multivolume treatment of proper nouns only, with color illustrations and encyclopedic definitions.

Dictionnaire culturel en langue française. 4 vols. Paris: Le Robert, 2005.

Multivolume set which acts as a dictionary of language, ideas, practices, and knowledge of world civilizations. Learn more at its official website.

Pronunciation dictionaries

Martinet, André and Henriette Walter. Dictionnaire de la prononciation française dans son usage réel . Paris: France-Expansion, 1973.

Takes an empirical approach to pronunciation. The authors tested the pronunciation of 17 informants, aged between 20 and 71, whose backgrounds are given. The words tested are given in capital letters, while less controversial pronunciations which were not tested are given in lower-case. Proper nouns are not included.

Warnant, Léon. Dictionnaire de la pronunciation française, dans sa norme actuelle . 4th ed. Paris: Duculot,  1987.

The key word here is "norme", since Warnant is aiming at the pronunciation of "intellectuels et gens cultivés."  He intends to give the "bon usage" of pronunciation. Readers may find the articulatory diagrams in the introduction useful.

Slang and idiom dictionaries


Colin, Jean-Paul. A r got & français populaire . Paris: Larousse, 2006. 976 p.

Definitions for over 15,000 slang words and expressions. Entries include citations and trace the evolution of terms (as applicable) from the 16th-century to the present day.

Caradec, François.  Dictionnaire du français argotique & populaire. Paris:  Larousse, 2005.

A dictionary of slang and popular language, including popular word plays such as verlan and louchébem.  Included are special thematically-organized sections (on such topics as human anatomy, clothing, money, music, cycling, driving, and gestures) as well as poetry written in slang.

Laroche-Claire, Yves. Evitez le franglais parlez français . Paris : Albin Michel, 2004.

In this first-ever "franglais-français" dictionary, Laroche-Claire maintains that there are one or more French equivalents for every Anglo-Americanism. For those who want to know how to avoid using "le week-end" or "le sandwich".

Jaque, Jean. Les Càcous : le Parleur de Marseille . Marseille: Auberon, 2001.

Completely in French, this book gives a brief history of Càcou slang used in Marseille. The dictionary section in the middle lists each entry alphabetically and gives the definition of the word along with an example of how it might be used. The next section contains stories which utilize the Càcou slang. A more comical reference, a quiz is also included to determine if you are a Càcou.


This is perhaps not the place to untangle the distinctions between locutions, expressions idiomatiques, and expressions imagées ou familières. When seeking the meaning of a word or phrase used metaphorically or unconventionally, we recommend trying a selection of the following sources since their coverage varies considerably. Most are arranged alphabetically by the key word in the expression: for coûter un saladier, look under saladier.

Fournier, Sophie. Badaboum et autres onomatopées . Paris: Bonneton, 2003.

This French language reference book alphabetically lists common French onomatopoeias. There is an index in back which lists the onomatopoeias by theme, but searching is easiest by onomatopoeia. Each entry has an etymological explanation, and several literary examples, some have cross-references.

Parmentier, Michel. Dictionnaire français/anglais des Comparaisons . Quebec: Stanké International, 2002.

This dictionary contains French and English similes alphabetized by the first word of the expressions. (i.e. "Easy as ABC" is under E.) The dictionary offers a literal translation and, when available, the other language's equivalent expression.

LaFleur, Amanda. Tonnerre mes chiens!: A Glossary of Louisiana French figures of speech.  Ville Platte, LA: Renouveau Publishing, 2000.

Organized thematically, the book offers a wealth of Louisianan French slang phrases for French and non-French speakers who want to learn more about this variant of the language. As many of the sayings were once used in France and other Francophone areas, it is a useful source for archaic French phrases. The book's author compiled the sayings through interviews with native speakers and by consulting written sources. Each entry offers a literal translation and the metaphorical meaning.

Harrap's French and English business dictionary. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.
The newest edition of this marketplace standard incorporates a number of terms from the Internet and other aspects of e-commerce, as well as colloquial business terms from fields such as marketing, finance, securities, and transnational trade.  Entries include detailed content notes, and this item also contains a general reference section with an extensive guide to business communication in French and English, advice on working with interpreters, and model financial statements reflecting elements common in both the French and Anglo-American context.  Includes illustrations and a list of sources for citations used.

Genouvrier, Émile. Nouveau dictionnaire des synonymes . Paris: Larousse, 1977.

Words which do not have their own entries in the main alphabetical sequence are listed in the index, with a reference to the article in which they are included as a synonym.

Batchelor, R. E. and M. H. Offord. Using French Synonyms . Cambridge and New York: Cambridge UP, 1993.   

A bilingual source designed for English-speaking learners. The arrangement is alphabetical by French word, but there are both French and English indexes. Synonyms are given according to their register or level of language, from informal and indecent to formal.

Thésaurus Larousse: des idées aux mots, des mots aux idées . Ed. by Daniel Péchoin. 2nd ed. Paris: Larousse, 1992.

Arranged like the American Roget's Thesaurus, the main part divides the universe of ideas into categories, and the synonyms are listed within the appropriate category. Alphabetical access to words is through the index.

Nouveau dictionnaire analogique . Ed. by Georges Niobey et al. Paris: Larousse, 1979.

There is a fine line between synonyms, which can usually be substituted for one another, and words related by analogy or ideas. This volume attempts the latter. Words not found alphabetically in the main sequence as entries can often be found in the index, with a reference to the appropriate entry.

Rhyme dictionaries

Warnant, Léon. Dictionnaire des rimes orales et écrites . Paris: Larousse, 1995.

Consultation is by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) representation of a syllable. Under each representation a list of rhyming words is given. In case the reader is unfamiliar with IPA, a section at the beginning of the dictionary gives corresponding spellings of the syllable.


Visual or picture dictionaries

These dictionaries provide the word for a known object, and conversely give a graphical representation of a known word. They divide the world into thematic categories, under which the images are collected, thus making them invaluable for improving vocabulary. The technical details of objects are emphasized. Indexes give the page of the appropriate image when the word is known.

The Macmillan Visual Dictionary . Multilingual edition. New York: Macmillan, 1994.

In contrast to the line drawings of the dictionaries cited below, this volume contains large color illustrations. Spanish and German equivalents are given as well as French.

Corbeil, Jean-Claude. Dictionnaire thématique visuel. Français/Anglais. Québec: Québec Amérique, 1987. 

The Oxford-Duden Pictorial French and English Dictionary . 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.

Difficulties of French

The works in this category treat aspects of the French which are difficult either for non-native learners or for native speakers themselves.

Grand dictionnaire difficultés & pièges du français .  Paris : Larousse, c2004.

A guide to common French grammar mistakes; i.e. when to pluralize, when to use a certain verb form.  Arranged alphabetically by main word in the phrase, includes index, spelling guide, grammar guide and verb conjugation tables.

Geno, Marie Gontier. À la française: Correct French for English Speakers . Lanham (Md.): University Press of America, 1992.  

Entries for grammatical concepts are integrated within an alphabetical list of English words which tend to cause problems for Anglophone learners of French. Brief explanations and grammatical tables show the appropriate French translation and usage. The French author has taught in American universities and is familiar with problems frequently encountered in composition courses.

Dictionaries for Francophone countries and regions

Le vocabulaire de la francophonie (Le nouveau Littré). Paris: Editions Garnier, 2008.

After a brief but useful introduction to the concept of "F/francophonie" and to the kinds of entries found in this dictionary, this alphabetically arranged work defines words used in French-speaking countries and regions worldwide. Each entry includes the common spellings of the word in question, the grammatical category/ies in which it falls, the country or region in which it is used, pronunciation (given in the international phonetic alphabet), the origin of the word, and one or more definitions. In many cases the following are also included: one or more examples of usage, one or more quotations from French-speaking authors or French-language newspapers, and/or additional commentary about variations of spelling, pronunciation, or usage.

Depecker, Loïc. Les mots de la francophonie . Paris: Belin, 1988.

A single alphabetical arrangement of entries for words which are specific to Francophone countries. Some words that do not have their own entries but which are defined in related entries are listed in the index. Another index gives lists of terms by country. There is an appendix with information on each country, including the approximate number of French speakers (although the statistics are not up-to-date, given the publication date).

Knecht, Pierre, and André Thibault, eds. Dictionnaire suisse romand. Genève: Editions Zoé, 2004.

This newly revised dictionary describes the specific usages of French vocabulary in Switzerland.  The entries are alphabetically arranged in a traditional dictionary format, and are preceded by lists of the abbreviations and symbols used throughout, a pronunciation guide ("transcription phonétique"), and a list of the works cited within the entries (including Swiss periodicals, novels, essays, manuals, etc.)  Following the body of the dictionary are several helpful indices (such as to words that do not receive their own entries, but which may also be of interest; they appear between brackets in the citations in entries for other words), a map of French-speaking Switzerland, and a bibliography.

Valdman, Albert, Thomas A. Klingler, Margaret M. Marshall, Kevin J. Rottet, Eds. Dictionary of Louisiana Creole. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

This volume serves to document Louisiana Creole as it is used today, as well as to trace modern usage to earlier documented forms. Includes a grammar section, bibliographical references, Louisiana Creole dictionary, an English-Louisiana Creole index, and a French-Louisiana Creole index.

LaFleur, Amanda. Tonnerre mes chiens!: A Glossary of Louisiana French figures of speech. Ville Platte, LA: Renouveau Publishing, 2000.

Organized thematically, the book offers a wealth of Louisianan French slang phrases for French and non-French speakers who want to learn more about this variant of the language. As many of the sayings were once used in France and other Francophone areas, it is a useful source for archaic French phrases. The book's author compiled the sayings through interviews with native speakers and by consulting written sources. Each entry offers a literal translation and the metaphorical meaning.

French Canada

Dictionnaire historique du français québécois: monographies lexicographiques de québécismes. Sainte-Foy: Les Presses de l'Université Lanval, 1998.

This dictionary is dedicated to tracing historically and defining the unique variant of French spoken by the people of the Canadian province of Quebec. The dictionary follows a standard dictionary format except that each word is discussed historically and usage examples are citations from actual historical texts (there are usually several examples for each entry), rather than modern fabrications. Alternative spellings, if any, are listed for each entry.

DesRuisseaux, Pierre. Dictionnaire des proverbes québécois . Montréal : L'Hexagone, 1991.

Describes 700 proverbs still in use in Québec, regardless of their national origin. Organized alphabetically by key words of the proverb, with an index allowing access by recurring themes.

Strickland, David. Dictionnaire de citations de la littérature québécoise . Montréal: La Presse, 1974.

Quotations from Québécois authors are listed under an alphabetically-arranged selection of topics. Unfortunately, there is no index of authors. Given the publication date, this volume will not be useful for current quotations.


For grammars of specific periods, see History of the French language below.

L'Hulillier, Monique. Advanced French Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.  

The goal of this book "is to be as comprehensive as possible in its coverage of all the points of French grammar normally encountered by undergraduate students in French."  The focus is on formal rather than informal French. The grammar opens with a comprehensive introduction to various parts of speech, syntactical and grammatical functions, and pronunciation.

Rosenberg, Samuel N. et al. Harper`s Grammar of French . New York: Harper & Row, 1983.   

Takes the student of French beyond basic grammar to more advanced structures, with copious examples and English translations. Chapters are arranged by parts of speech.

Chevalier, Jean-Claude et al. Grammaire Larousse du français contemporain . Paris: Larousse, 1964.

A good standard French-language grammar of French without the historical and literary dimension of Grevisse's Le Bon Usage. Includes a section on versification.

Riegel, Martin, Jean-Christophe Pellat and René Rioul. Grammaire méthodique du français . Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1994.

A recent grammar which incorporates modern linguistic theory, particularly in the last two parts: "Grammaire et lexique" and "Grammaire et communication." Gives up-to-date bibliographic citations for each topic.

Ball, Rodney. Colloquial French Grammar: a Practical Guide. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 2000.

This guide is intended to aid non-French speakers in navigating the intricacies of French colloquial grammar. The author offers grammatical help for a variety of social situations, ranging from those requiring extreme formality to those permitting a more relaxed approach. The chapters are divided into standard grammatical concerns: negatives, verbs, nouns, relative clauses, prepositions, etc. Users can test themselves with the exercises provided at the end of each section.

Batchelor, R.E. & M.F. Offord. Using French : a guide to contemporary usage. 3rd ed. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2000.

This book goes beyond the scope of traditional grammars to include "faux amis and other aspects of lexis" as well as to reflect colloquial usage. A very complete resource, a good in-depth reference to supplement traditional grammars.

Phonetics & Phonology

For sound changes in history, see History of the French language below.

Price, Glanville. An Introduction to French Pronunciation . Revised Edition.  Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

A "comprehensive and accessible guide to current French pronunciation," which begins with an explanation of the general principles of French phonetics and points out regional variations in the pronunciation of the language.  Subsequent chapters discuss specific points of pronunciation, such as vowels, semi-consonants, and consonants, as well as rhythmic groups, the syllable, stress, liaison, and intonation.  The book is intended to help those with a basic knowledge of French achieve "a more authentic pronunciation" of the language.  Includes an index and short bibliography for further reading.  

Casagrande, Jean. The Sound System of French . Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1984.

A very thorough English-language treatment of the phonology and phonetics of French, including exercises and advice for teaching pronunciation and phonetics.


Vocabulary building

Mathy, Jean-Philippe and Rosemary McCluskey. 750 French Verbs and Their Uses . New York: Wiley, 1992.  

An alphabetical listing of verbs with their complements, which can be tricky for Anglophone learners of French, e.g. écraser qn de qch. Multiple example sentences are given with their English translations. Basic conjugational tables are in an appendix, and an English-French glossary aids in finding French equivalents to English verbs.

Duffy, Jean H. Using French Vocabulary . Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.  

Covers "concrete and abstract vocabulary relating to the physical, cultural, social, commercial and political environment, as well as exposure to commonly encountered technical terminology". Vocabulary is arranged in 20 chapters according to theme, from the human body to shapes and patterns, to agriculture and industry. A variety of exercises are included to aid in the assimilation of each wordlist.

Fischer, Wolfgang and Le Plouhinec, Anne-Marie. Mastering French Vocabulary . Barron's: New York, 2003.

This reference book is searchable by index or category. Vocabulary is arranged by 24 thematic sections (ie. Communications and Mass Media and The Economy and Business).  Helps beginners expand their vocabulary on specific topics.

History of the French Language

This section includes dictionaries, grammars, and other sources for studies of the language of particular historical periods.

Comprehensive studies

Rickard, Peter. A History of the French Language . 2nd ed. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

A good overview in English. Does not enter into great detail concerning sound changes. Chapters are arranged chronologically.

Price, Glanville. The French Language:  Present and Past . London: Grant & Cutler, 1984.

An excellent one-volume analysis of the history of French. Chapter 1 gives a brief history of external forces acting on the language. Chapters 2-5 cover sound changes, while chapters 6-21 follow the development of the parts of speech and syntactic changes. There is an index of words used as examples in the main text.

Wartburg, Walther von. Évolution et structure de la langue française . 3rd ed. Berne: A. Francke, 1971.

An older but cogent single-volume description in French of the development of the language from pre-Roman times to the 20th century.

Ayres-Bennett, Wendy. A History of the French Language through Texts . London & New York: Routledge, 1996.

From the Strasbourg Oaths (842 AD) to regional and Francophone dialects of French today, Ayres-Bennett presents texts illustrating the development, differentiation and standardization of French. She includes information on the origin of each text and commentary on its linguistic aspects.

Brunot, Ferdinand. Histoire de la langue française des origines à 1900 . 13 vols. Paris: A. Colin, 1905- .

This is a classic source for an extensive multi-volume treatment of the history of the language. Arranged chronologically, but there is no index to the set.

De la Chaussée, François. Initiation à la phonétique historique de l'ancien français . Rev. ed. Paris: Klincksieck, 1982.

This is a technical volume on sound changes from Latin to French. After an introduction to principles of historical phonetics, the author analyzes classes of sound changes (e.g. palatalization). In a third part the changes are put in their historical context through a chronological treatment, from Vulgar Latin to Proto-French to Old French, broken down into periods of less than a century.


Old & Middle French

Gastal, Pierre. Sous le français, le gaulois : Histoire, vocabulaire, étymologie, toponymie . Paris : Le Sureau, 2002.

In French, this book outlines the history of the Gallic language and offers a small dictionary. Also gives a list of French words of Gallic origin.

Kibler, William. An Introduction to Old French . New York: Modern Language Association, 1984.  

Geared toward beginning learners of Old French, this book presents texts accompanied by commentary on the lexical forms and grammar, and their evolution from Latin.

Greimas, A. J. Dictionnaire de l'ancien français: le Moyen Age . Paris: Larousse, 2001.

A single-volume dictionary of Old French through the mid-14th century. Entries are in modern French and include definitions and examples from period texts. This volume is continued by Greimas's Dictionnaire du moyen français (see below).

Marcello-Nizia, Christiane. Histoire de la langue française aux XIVe et XVe siècles . Paris: Bordas, 1979.

The five sections cover the historical context of Middle French and its phonology, morphology, syntax and lexicon. Bibliographic references are given for each topic. Includes an index of concepts and words.

Greimas, A. J. and Teresa Mary Keane. Dictionnaire du moyen français: la Renaissance . Paris: Larousse, 1992.

Einhorn, E. Old French: A concise Handbook . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

A respected guide to Old French grammar and morphology. Provides practice exercises for each chapter.

Godefroy, Frédéric. Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle . 10 vols. Genève: Slatkine, 1982. (Reprint of the 1891-1902 original.)

This is an excellent resource for Old French. Spans the Old French and Middle French periods. Entries include examples, with citations for the sources in which they were found. Some words from the 16th century are included. Volumes IX and X are supplements.

Hindley, Alan, Langley, Frederick and Levy, Brian J. Old French-English Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

"This is the first Old French-English dictionary of its kind to provide a comprehensive reference tool for a broad range of English-speaking users." The dictionary draws on a wide range of  texts up to the year 1350 and has 60,000 entries. Intended for general and specialist readers of Old French.


16th century: the Renaissance

Huguet, Edmond. Dictionnaire de la langue française du seizième siècle . 7 vols. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Édouard Champion, 1925-1967.

According to the author the entries were culled from "les plus grands écrivains" of the 16th century. Only words and senses which later passed out of use are included. Literary citations are given to demonstrate usage. The entries overlap somewhat into the 15th and 17th centuries.

Gougenheim, Georges. Grammaire de la langue française du seizième siècle . Paris: A. & J. Picard,  1974.

The grammar is divided into three parts (sounds, forms, structures) which explore the areas in which Renaissance French is different from modern usage. The grammar and examples cited are primarily from literary texts. Includes an index of words and concepts.


17th century: the Classical period

Cayrou, Gaston. Dictionnaire du français classique: la langue du XVIIe siècle . Paris:  Librairie Générale Française, 2000.

A useful source for students of seventeenth-century French language and literature. The volume's small size and large print makes it easy to consult.

Sancier-Chateau, Anne. Introduction à la langue du XVIIe siècle . 2 vols. Paris: Nathan, 1993.

The first of these two thin paperback volumes focuses on the vocabulary of the 17th century, while the second studies the particularities of syntax. Readers may find these more approachable than the large histories (e.g. Brunot) as an introduction to the language of the period.


19th-20th century

Trésor de la langue française: dictionnaire de la langue du XIXe et du XXe siècle (1789-1960) . Ed. by Paul Imbs. Paris: CNRS, 1971-1994.

Extensive remarks on the history and use of words within the time period specified. Includes citations showing words in use.


20th century

Désirat, Claude and Tristan Hordé. La langue française au XXe siècle . Paris: Bordas, 1976.

The first part considers factors which cause linguistic variation, while the second part discusses 20th-century changes and tendencies in several linguistic divisions: phonology and phonetics, syntax, lexicon and orthography. No index.

Linguistic atlases

Rossillon, Philippe et al. Atlas de la langue française . Paris: Bordas, 1995.

This is not a linguistic atlas per se (it does not give pronunciations of words by geographical area), but it presents useful charts, graphs and maps relating to the history and spread of  French both inside and outside of France. A major section is devoted to Francophone countries.

Gilliéron, Jules and Edmond Edmont. Atlas linguistique de la France . Paris: H. Champion, 1902-1915.

Comprises over 2,500 maps focusing on the variation in sounds and words throughout France. Includes an index volume. Before attempting to use this set, the user may find it helpful to read the small accompanying volume Notice servant à l'intelligence des textes.

CALL NUMBERS VARY (Literatures & Languages Ref.)
Atlas linguistiques de la France par régions. Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

This series of atlases covers a different region of France in each volume, and the data is more recent than the famous atlas of Gilliéron (see above). To verify the volumes available at the University of Illinois Library, in the online catalog do a Browse Title search for "Atlas linguistiques de la France par regions". Because of their large size, the atlases are stored in a special shelving area of the Modern Languages & Linguistics Library, but may be browsed freely.

Organizations for the French Language