The Legacy of Anglo-French: faux amis in French and English

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William Rothwell (1993)

The transformation of the lexis of English as a result of the Norman invasion of 1066 has long been recognized. Lists of Romance terms adopted during the medieval period are not lacking,1 yet one of the most obvious results of the pervasive presence of French in England for over three centuries has so far not been treated in its historical context. An important outcome of the wholesale use of French on English soil after the Conquest has been the creation of many semantic traps which now lie in wait for the unwary users of French and English, the faux amis. Admittedly, a number of scholars have drawn attention at various times to the abundance of these potential pitfalls in the contemporary forms of the two languages, but their aim has been purely descriptive.2 The fundamental question as to the underlying reason for the creation of faux amis and the time of their appearance has so far not been addressed. For in reality, when viewed in historical terms, the faux amis are far more than mere curiosities of language: they are like rocks sticking up out of the sea, isolated remnants of a vanished land now lost beneath the waves. That land is the French of medieval England: the faux amis are a reminder of its importance.

The reason why the faux amis have not so far been studied historically may be traced back to the dismissive attitude taken by philologists towards later Anglo-French from the nineteenth century until the present time and their consequent failure to understand the importance of this period in lexical and semantic terms. For example, in 1944 Miss M.K. Pope devoted her Deneke Lecture at Oxford3 to the subject of the contribution made by Anglo-Norman vocabulary to the formation of modern English, but without making any distinction between borrowings from continental French and coinages made in Anglo-French, quite independently of the language of Paris. Nor p17 was any reference made to the faux amis that are such a remarkable feature of the vocabularies of modern English and French. Miss Pope contented herself with marshalling4 into lists a considerable number of French terms that have been taken into English, without paying any regard to semantic developments that have taken place on English soil or to any difference in meaning between the French original and the modern English, even when this difference is glaringly obvious.

To take just one or two typical instances of this: ‘joiner’ and ‘carpenter’ are quoted as though they fall into the same category of borrowings from Old French, whereas in fact ‘carpenter’ is a genuine borrowing taken from continental French into Anglo-French and then into English, whilst ‘joiner’ is a purely insular creation, not attested on the continent.5 Again, the pair donjon/’dungeon’ are given without reference to the important semantic development that took place in England and that now gives the two words quite separate meanings. Similarly, we find quoted ‘moat (O.F. mote, mound)’, as though it were perfectly natural that a word used in France for a raised mound should end up in English meaning a ditch dug down into the ground. Semantic evolution in both French and English over the centuries has created the modern situation in which motte and ‘moat’ are even farther apart in meaning than donjon and ‘dungeon’. Originally both the dungeon and the mote/moat were above ground in England as well as in France, their meanings of ‘keep’ and ‘mound/embankment’ being well attested in both Anglo-French and Middle English. It is difficult to determine precisely when they took on their modern senses in England, but the evidence in the Middle English Dictionary suggests that it was at the end of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth centuries, with a long period of hesitation during which both the original and the new meanings are recorded. This period, of course, is also the time when Anglo-French was giving way to English. Modern English has kept the original French sense of p18 ‘mote’ in the historical register only, as applied to medieval castles, so that there now appears to be little connection between the modern French motte – whether referring to earth or butter – and the English ‘moat’. Observations in similar vein could be made just as easily about Miss Pope’s handling of medieval French giste (modern French gîte) and English ‘joist’, a pair of faux amis which are again quoted without any semantic comment. In medieval French on both sides of the Channel giste had the meaning of ‘joist’ or ‘beam’ as well as that of ‘resting-place’,6 but standard modern French has lost that sense, whilst modern English has lost the sense of ‘resting-place’. A further separation in sense has arisen in contemporary French and English with gîte and ‘gist’. Gîte has now become a holiday home and ‘gist’ means ‘the real point, essence (of a matter)’. That this noun was originally the third person present indicative of the verb gesir as frequently used in Anglo-French legal texts is not in doubt, but, curiously enough, the Oxford English Dictionary has no example of its nominal use before 1769, long after Anglo-French had been absorbed into English.

Without labouring the point further, Miss Pope’s failure to grasp the importance of the semantic changes undergone by some of the terms she is handling is to be explained by her attitude to Anglo-Norman, this being conditioned by her approach to linguistic development in general. As in her major work in 1934, ‘From Latin to Modern French’,7 ten years later in her Deneke Lecture she still regards the French of England as no more than a dialect of Old French that flourished particularly in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, after which time it degenerated into a formless, often unintelligible jargon before disappearing altogether.8 Nowhere in this work is there any awareness of the changing social reality that lay behind the developments in Anglo-French over the course of three centuries and more. So enduring, however, is the influence of Miss Pope’s scholarship that her view of the French of medieval England is still widely prevalent half a century later, hampering the study of later Anglo-French.

Clear proof of this lack of understanding is to be found even in the most recent works on the history of English vocabulary. Assessing the lexical contribution of French in The English Language (Oxford, 1985), Robert Burchfield, chief editor of the new Oxford English p19 Dictionary, writes that ‘most of the loanwords did not come from the central repository of received or standard French, but from that variety which happened to be spoken by the Norman conquerors’ (p.16). This implies that semantic differences between similar words in French and English (the faux amis) are to be accounted for by differences between francien and the old Norman dialect in 1066, the words being later adopted into English with their semantic content unchanged. Nowhere in the book – or, indeed, in the author’s later Unlocking the English Language (London, 1989) – is there any sign of an understanding that a great many French terms took on new senses in England as a direct result of being written as well as spoken, not by Norman conquerors but by thousands of Englishmen in a professional capacity, generations after the conquerors had been absorbed. Words in Time by G. Hughes (Oxford, 1989), although sub-titled A Social History of the English Language, reveals a similar lack of comprehension regarding the socio-linguistic reality of medieval England, even going so far as to re-hash Walter Scott’s discredited old chestnut about Saxon shepherds etc. tending Saxon sheep, calves etc. that would be served at the Norman lord’s table as Norman mutton, veal etc. (p.5). Later in the book Hughes flies in the face of contemporary testimony by affirming that there was a ‘strong cultural separation between conqueror and conquered’ (p.44). No more than a century after the Conquest the author of the Dialogus de Scaccario 9 says that by the time he was writing the free men of the two races were so intermingled that it was virtually impossible to distinguish between them.10

So long as this kind of uncomprehending attitude remains, there can be little progress towards a correct evaluation of the importance of French in medieval England. The semantic developments that have created many of the faux amis did not take place in the well-researched early period of Anglo-Norman, when the ties with France were at their strongest, but in the later thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, ‘the period of degeneracy’ as Miss Pope puts it in her book, a period adjudged to be unworthy of detailed study by philologists. In the early period after the Conquest the faux amis were just amis, so to speak, and would have stayed that way had not semantic change supervened in the later period. The faux in the faux amis is a historical phenomenon and needs, therefore, to be explained in each case by historical semantics. p20

Like Miss Pope, many experts on the history of the French language have taken the view that any linguistic importance Anglo-French might conceivably enjoy could stem only from its geographical situation on the periphery of Romania and is restricted in time to the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The linguistic geographers found that peripheral dialects were of great interest in that they tended to preserve archaic sounds and forms that had disappeared from the more central and dynamic regions of a linguistic community, and it was this aspect that drew the attention of philologists to Anglo-French. Viewed from Paris in the perspective of Romance linguistics, this attribution to early Anglo-French of a minor role as a source of material with which to illustrate phonetic or morphological divergences from francien may be understandable, but such a view is not sustainable from any angle, either continental or insular, once the middle of the thirteenth century is passed. After the loss of Normandy in 1204, as each successive generation of the ruling classes in England became more English, Anglo-French became less and less a mere peripheral dialect of central French with a largely predictable appearance and a lexis hardly different from that of francien, less and less, that is, traditional ‘Anglo-Norman’ as found in the manuals of historical French grammar. Insular writers of French increasingly failed to observe the rules so painstakingly established for the development of its sounds and forms by modern philologists. At the same time the lexis of Anglo-French was growing and changing as it grew, becoming more varied and more difficult to interpret through the medium of standard Old French as a result of widespread semantic innovation. On the surface it is the outward appearance of this misunderstood language that catches the eye and disconcerts the reader – the often strange verb-forms or the quirky spellings of familiar words: of far greater significance, however, is the less visible alteration of the lexis. The strange forms were destined to disappear when the language itself ceased to be used, but a large proportion of the lexis of later Anglo-French has lived on and has been taken into modern English, semantic innovations and all, hence the faux amis.

However, the sharply differing treatment accorded by scholars to Anglo-French before and after the middle of the thirteenth century is to be explained by factors other than merely its external appearance, important as this undoubtedly was. During the second half of the thirteenth century the proportion of prose as opposed to verse increases significantly, hampering the investigation of sound-changes by its absence of rhyme and proving additionally unhelpful by the proliferation of non-standard spellings that can make interpretation difficult. More importantly, many of these late prose works lie outside the domain of imaginative literature, being concerned with p21 administration, agriculture, commerce, diplomacy, education, history, medicine, the law, even science, with a dearth of the familiar vocabulary relating to pious saints, valiant knights and beautiful ladies, but a corresponding increase in non-courtly terms and idiom; in short, the lexis reflects a society moving towards the early stages of our modern, post-medieval Europe. Faced, then, with unfamiliar and uncongenial subject-matter, often bristling with semantic difficulties, written for the most part in a crabbed hand harder to decipher than the general run of ecclesiastical or courtly manuscripts and couched in prose that failed to observe the rules of grammar as set down in the manuals of Old French, it needed only the final straw of ‘contamination with English’ to complete the disenchantment of the majority of specialists in Old French language or Romance philology.

Yet it is only in the narrow perspective of traditional philology that the changes which Anglo-French underwent in the course of the thirteenth century and on into the fourteenth appear negative. The language did not merely cease to be a suitable subject for exercises comparing it with the phonology and morphology of francien. Unlike all the other peripheral dialects of French, as a result of the play of historical forces, the insular form was destined to be merged into a major language – English – to such an extent that from Chaucer onwards the removal of the Anglo-French element in English vocabulary would leave literary works with as many ‘blank’ ‘spaces’ – both of these terms being medieval faux amis – as there were words remaining, and, moreover, with spaces that would be difficult to fill from other sources. Whilst the other peripheral dialects of French were the local speech forms of small, rural, conservative communities with few contacts outside their circumscribed borders – hence the archaic tendency in their vocabulary – later Anglo-French, for all its supposed decadence, was the medium of expression favoured by all the literate, influential classes in a large and powerful sovereign state that played an increasingly important role on the European stage, both politically and economically. In the second half of the thirteenth century a peripheral dialect when viewed in the overall perspective of Romania became, in the context of the cultural climate of later medieval England, a second language of record, enjoying the great advantage of being able to be used over the whole country without the dialectal variations which at that time hampered the use of English. This uniformity of Anglo-French, notwithstanding its disconcerting spellings, was what enabled it to reverse the tendency noted by the linguistic geographers and become not a preserver of archaisms but a propagator of semantic innovation.

For a century and more from around 1260 French was not only spoken on a daily basis by large numbers of English citizens carrying p22 out their professional duties, but, more importantly, it was written in great quantity to keep the records needed by any advanced society. The royal administration of the country was conducted to a large extent in French and its records set down in the Statutes of the Realm,11 the Rotuli Parliamentorum 12 and Parliamentary Writs;13 similarly, much of the local administration was conducted in French, as may be seen today in works such as the Liber Albus 14 and Liber Custumarum 15 for London, the Oak Book of Southampton,16 or the Borough Customs 17 for many towns up and down the country; the growing merchant class carried on trade and commerce in French, both in England and abroad, as illustrated by Chapple’s Correspondence of the City of London,18 the Port Books of Southampton 19 and The Gild Merchant;20 secretaries to the kings wrote many hundreds of letters in French that may still be read in Royal Letters,21 the Letters of Edward I,22 Letters of Edward Prince of Wales23 etc.; the nobility and higher clergy conducted a voluminous correspondence in French, as may be seen from the several hundred examples that have survived in Anglo-Norman Letters and Petitions,24 the Recueil de Lettres anglo-françaises 25 or in the Letters of Bishop Eastry;26 these same classes ran their great households and estates in French;27 finally, the works on the theory and practice of English law couched in insular French during this period fill a very considerable area of shelving in all major libraries.

All these people who used French in England, from one generation to the next, had to make the language they used respond to the p23 changing requirements of the society in which they worked. In this development lies the basic cause of the faux amis that have been such a remarkable feature of French and English from medieval to modern times.The proliferation of documentary writings in Anglo-French from the later decades of the thirteenth century onwards is to be explained in social, rather than merely linguistic terms. In Italy at this time the rising merchant class was laying the foundations of the wealth gained from trade and commerce that would make possible during the first half of the fourteenth century the growth of the city state. In England too a new mercantile class was beginning its rise to economic power and influence on the basis of foreign as well as domestic trade. More important than the well-known involvement of Italian financiers such as the Riccardi and the Frescobaldi in the lending of money to successive English feudal kings was a less obvious commercial influence. A certain Roger Ardinguelli and members of the society of the Bardi in Florence held tenements in London and were involved in a law-suit over them in 1318.28 As early as 1283 The Statute of Merchants was promulgated to encourage foreign traders to do business in England,29 but by 1376 so great was the hostility of the English merchants towards Italians such as the Strozzi, accused of obtaining merchandise on credit and then disappearing from the country, that we find in the Rotuli Parliamentorum (II, p.350) a Bille encontre les Lumbardz. In Anglo-French long before this time Lombard was used not only for Italian bankers30 but as the trade description of a type of Italian cloth.31 The geographical base from which the new class of wealthy English merchants operated was by and large the south-east corner of England, with an extension westwards across to the Southampton-Winchester area; the language they used for their transactions was in the main Anglo-French, with the written, recorded word being of prime importance in all their business dealings as well in the administrative and legal activity they generated.

The crucial period for the development of what had been a peripheral dialect of French into a national language of record in England was from the later decades of the thirteenth century into the p24 fourteenth, and it is from this time that the faux amis begin to appear, their arrival giving a clear signal that the French of England is in the process of developing its own lexis to meet the requirements of the changing society that used it. By this time the Conquest was two full centuries in the past and French had to be taught not only to many anglophone members of the upper classes but also to the growing numbers of English officials and scribes needed to run an increasingly financially-orientated society. The later years of the thirteenth century saw the composition of Bibbesworth’s Tretiz 32 to enable the rising generation of anglophone landowners to learn the basic French terms for life as it was lived on their estates – the parts of the body, the names of animals and birds, flowers and trees, the essentials of building, brewing and so on. The market for such works may be gauged by the numerous copies of Bibbesworth dating from the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries that still survive after seven hundred years or more. Dating from roughly the same period are the more advanced treatises on estate management that taught Englishmen in great detail how to organize in French the exploitation of their land and livestock to their best advantage and profit.33 On the more general plane of instruction in French there appeared at the beginning of the fourteenth century the Tractatus Orthographiae 34 and the Orthographia Gallica 35 to teach Englishmen how to set down French in an acceptable form. By the second half of the century it is clear that the dreaming spires of Oxford were sheltering not only philosophers and theologians but also practical teachers of French who would be quite at home today in the Harvard Business School. The books of model letters in Latin and French which have survived36 show that no later than 1355 students were being taught by private tutors the art of composing letters to their superiors, their equals and their inferiors on a wide range of matters, especially financial and administrative. From this period come the earliest attestations of the faux amis degré/’degree’ and exhibition/’exhibition’ in which the English forms carry academic senses.37 Towards the end of the century p25 there comes the Maniere de Langage,38 a series of model conversations to help the anglophone business traveller in France find all his creature comforts as well as his way around the country to buy and sell. In fourteenth-century England French was clearly a marketable subject for study.

Earlier than these manuals of linguistic instruction there appear in the second half of the thirteenth century manuals of legal instruction. The editor of the Casus Placitorum,39 which has survived in nineteen manuscripts and comes from the third quarter of the century, writes that ‘by 1260 Anglo-Norman was well established as a language of the law’ (Introduction p. xl), and that ‘Henry III’s men of law were writing up and teaching current rules and cases …’. In his opinion the Casus was ‘a law-teacher’s book of notes’ (Preface p.vii), and he regards the documents in his Appendix II as ‘a student’s work-book’. In the later decades of the century other teaching manuals such as the Mirror of Justices,40 the Court Baron 41 and the Brevia Placitata 42 were compiled in French, the first of these in order to serve as a guide to judges, the second and third containing precedents for pleading in the court of a manor and in the king’s courts respectively. The many surviving manuscripts of this kind of instructional work point to the need to satisfy the demand presented by what must have been a growing number of lawyers. Before the thirteenth century was out Britton had made his authoritative and detailed exposition of English laws43 that was to leave us with no less than twenty-six manuscripts surviving into the twentieth century, an eloquent testimony to the growth of the legal profession. In addition, the thousands of documents contained in the extensive Year Books from the time of Edward I provided copious material for study from different types of legal cases. As early as 1293 these Year Books are referring to aprentiz in the legal profession,44 and a decade later we find the apprentices asking the king for permission to make a second ‘crib’ (Anglo-French crubbe) in the Court of Common Bench where they may stand for their instruction.45 They already have a crib or stall on one side of the court, so the request for a second one on the other side points clearly to an increase in their numbers. This expanding body p26 of legal practioners was evidently needed in order to cope with the growth in litigation that is an inevitable consequence of the development of a society based increasingly on trade and commerce. The apprentices will learn their English law in French and Latin,46 but the French they hear and read will be Anglo-French semantically and syntactically, however it may have been pronounced. This is the French used for the permanent written records, and it is this written French that will merge into English, leaving modern English law thoroughly permeated with a mass of terms of French origin. The decades from the later thirteenth to the end of the fourteenth century form the crucially important period of Anglo-French, far richer in historical consequences than the early period after the Conquest, the period of the traditional Anglo-Norman. The decisive impact of French on the English language of today comes from this late period when the literate classes in England moved constantly from their native English to French, or even Latin, and back again in the course of their daily work and recreation. That their French was in many cases an acquired language rather than a vernacular in no way diminishes its historical importance, however inconvenient it may be for the traditional philologist.

The literate classes in later medieval England treated French not in the modern fashion, as a foreign product over which the inhabitants of France hold proprietary rights and from which Englishmen may pick fashionable words here and there ready-made off the shelf, as it were, passing some of them eventually into the lexis of English. For them French was the language that educated men in England had shared with their equals across the Channel for generations and which they could quite legitimately develop in line with the needs of their own society. These residents of medieval England did not confine their linguistic activity to taking over French terms in use on the continent, or even to coining new formations based on existing French terms in accordance with the principles governing French grammar: they also attached new senses to words current in continental French, thus creating many faux amis. To take ‘coin’ in this last sentence as an example: the English ‘coin’ and the French coin are a rather unlikely pair of faux amis whose ultimate origin is the French coin ‘wedge’. The English word comes from coin in its trade sense of the wedge-shaped instrument used to stamp coins, but the use of ‘coin’ as a verb, found in English as early as Chaucer, as well as the derivatives ‘coiner’ and ‘coinage’, are unattested in the French of France either in medieval or modern times. Since the numismatic p27 sense of the word is attested in Anglo-French in the thirteenth century just as it is in continental French, it is highly unlikely that English would adopt it from the continent – as is claimed by the OED – when it was being used regularly on English soil. Moreover, Godefroy’s quotations under cunage (II, 403) and his sole quotation under coigneur (II, 172) in the sense of the man who strikes the coin are all Anglo-French. In fact, coynage is found in England with its modern English sense well before Godefroy’s late examples.47 Insular French, then, not the continental variety, has given the modern English ‘coin’ 48 and its derivatives. A similar observation could be made with regard to ‘resident’ (and ‘to reside’, or ‘residence’ 49) used in the same sentence above: the innumerable faux amis that now separate English from French are in large measure attributable to the creative linguistic activity of medieval Englishmen. So common are instances of this kind that it is not ‘easy’ to ‘avoid’ these medieval faux amis in any sustained piece of modern English writing. Indeed, their ‘avoidance’ in any lengthy composition might be described as a ‘jolly fine achievement’ – all these terms being themselves faux amis, all products of the generalized use of French in medieval England as a second language of record and of its semantic creativity. The modern English ‘avoid’ and ‘avoidance’ show a not infrequent change of verbal prefix as well as a change of meaning from continental to insular p28 French. By 1285 legal Anglo-French is using the verb avoider ‘to make void’, with the noun avoidance ‘vacancy (of a benefice)’, ‘making void (of a statute etc.)’ being attested at the beginning of the next century.50 Continental French at that time used the same basic verb with a different prefix – esvuider ‘to empty, get rid of’ – but apparently did not extend the meaning of the verb to the legal register or create a corresponding noun along the lines of ‘avoidance’. The modern current sense of the Engish verb and noun stem from developments in Middle English based on the Anglo-French. Again, the medieval jolif meant, broadly speaking, ‘lively, lustful’, etc. in both France and England – a far cry from either the restricted sense of the modern French joli or the wider semantic field covered by the modern English ‘jolly’ that was already being developed in Middle English; fin, similarly, has followed a far more restrictive path into modern French than the English ‘fine’; finally, continental French has never extended the meaning of achèvement from ‘conclusion, finishing’ to include the idea of success – ‘achievement’, whilst Anglo-French records this sense by the fourteenth century, passing it on to English.51

Both the form and the semantic content of the faux amis are worthy of attention, and whilst any attempt to illustrate comprehensively their historical development would require a large book, perhaps a small selection of varied examples may suffice to make clear the mechanisms, both morphological and semantic, that lie behind their creation. The changing form of words in French and/or English over the centuries may hide a medieval parallelism; words in the general, non-specialized register of continental or insular Old French may simply acquire an additional shade of meaning without further p29 specialization; on the other hand, a term may be given new, specialized senses in later Anglo-French, a process of semantic adaptation often accompanied by the formation of new terms in the same area of meaning coined from the same source. Again, faux amis may be created in medieval French or only become faux, so to speak, centuries later. Very often the pairs are easy to recognize, but this is not always the case.

For instance, a radio commentator has just announced that a certain champion golfer is ‘two off the pace’ (i.e. two strokes behind the tournament leader). The OED would have us believe that the English ‘pace’ is an adoption of the Old French pas, but the form pace is actually found in Anglo-French52 and not, apparently, on the continent, whilst expressions such as chalt pas 53 enjoyed widespread currency on both sides of the Channel in the Middle Ages. Indeed, the Middle English ‘hot-foot’ indicates a most obvious literal translation from the Anglo-French with which it lived cheek by jowl for so many decades. The difference of meaning that now separates ‘pace’ from pas is not great. Whilst keeping most of the semantic content of pas, English has added the sense of ‘speed’.54 The modern pair of faux amis ‘pace’ and pas is the product not of a conventional lexical borrowing made by English from continental French, but of the gradual semantic development of a later Anglo-Norman form that is still evolving, as is shown by the neologism ‘two off the pace’.

The French soldier has for centuries kept guard in his guérite, whilst the starving English poet has languished in his ‘garret’. This is another pair of faux amis created by the semantic innovation of later Anglo-French. During the earlier period of French in England garite meant a turret or watchtower, a sense still found as late as 1381 when the king is said to have gone up into ‘une haute garett de la Toure’ (i.e. the Tower of London) to watch fires burning in the City.55 As early as 1308, however, a civilian building contract in Latin stipulates the construction in London of a ‘garectum supra solarium predictum’ 56 and in 1342 a similar civilian contract in Anglo-French states that the carpenter ‘sur les deux estages desouthe l’un somet dedeinz fra une garite’.57 The modern English meaning of ‘garret’ p30 cannot be explained without the shift of meaning that took place in Anglo-French.58

Pairs of faux amis such as these are easy to recognize and there is no need to multiply instances of them, but on occasion identification can be made difficult by the present lack of information about Anglo-French. A typical example of this is the pair tricher/’trick’. Their relationship puzzles the OED on account of the late dating of English evidence and the apparent lack of an unbroken chain of semantic development from French to English. However, if attention is focused on insular rather than continental French, the problem disappears. Although unknown to the OED, the verb tricher is well attested in Anglo-French from the twelfth century in both transitive and intransitive forms, along with the nouns tricheur and tricherie, the adjective tricherus and the adverb tricherusement.59 This means that in the later Middle Ages the whole semantic group could be taken quite normally into the fabric of Middle English and so into modern English. Moreover, the semantic development of the modern English ‘treachery’ from tricherie is already foreshadowed in Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis before the middle of the twelfth century, when one of the scribes uses traiturs instead of trecheurs 60.

Until the appearance of the relevant fascicle of the incomplete Middle English Dictionary, the Middle English link of the pair tricher/’trick’ will remain unproven, but the soundness of the argument set out above is shown by the similar history of the modern English verb ‘to grouse’. Although its etymology is officially unknown and its first attestation set in the late nineteenth century with the label ‘slang’, the AND and the MED p31 prove not only that the medieval French verb grucer ‘to grouse’ was in frequent use in Anglo-French from the second half of the twelfth century onwards in highly respectable literary works containing no slang,61 but also that nouns and an adjective had been developed from it – gruz and grucement ‘grumbling’, gruçur and the feminine grouceresse ‘grumbler’, gruçus ‘grumbling, ill-tempered’. In other words, a complete semantic unit was in use in French on English soil for centuries. From Anglo-French the verb and its ‘family’ were taken into English where they are abundantly attested by the MED in serious literary works from the thirteenth century right into the middle of the fifteenth. What happened after that is a matter for research in English, but there can be no doubt about the medieval position.

A more complicated case is presented by the French neologisms le test and tester. In recent times French has borrowed the noun test from English and made the new verb tester (alongside the old one meaning ‘to make a will’), yet this is really not so much a borrowing as a re-borrowing, since the English ‘test’ as noun and verb are the descendants of the medieval continental and insular French tast/taster. In Anglo-French, taster – or tayster, taystir as it is sometimes found, not without significance – can mean ‘to examine by feeling’, and, as early as the first quarter of the thirteenth century ‘to taste, test for quality’ (e.g. of wine);62 the examination or ‘testing’ is being done not only by the fingers, but also by the tongue and, possibly, by the eye. By the fourteenth century there is evidence of the extension of the verb to abstract use in the language of the law and of administration,63 when it is used of testing a case before it comes to trial and testing or sounding out the intentions of the King of France by English envoys. This semantic development of the verb is accompanied by an extension of the meaning of the noun tast. By the middle of the fourteenth century it is found in a rather ambiguous phrase in the p31 Register of Daniel Rough: ‘nous ne poms trover en tute la ville forke iiij touns de vyn a notre tast qe seroient profitable et plesanz a vous sire.’ 64 A notre tast here could be read as ‘at our tasting/testing’ or, as in the modern English expression, ‘to our taste’. The quotations given by T-L for taster (10, p.137) under the glosses versuchen, prüfen and prüfen, auf die Probe stellen, as well as the FEW‘s ‘taster qn “mettre à l’épreuve (13 jh.)” ‘ (13,140) illustrate a similar general development on the continent, but without any evidence from the specialized legal register that marks out Anglo-French. These, together with the form tester in one of Godefroy’s examples (X,745), the nominal form test given by T-L as a variant of tast (10,134), and T-L‘s taste (10,135) glossed Sonde, ought perhaps to have alerted etymologists to the possibility of a link between continental and insular medieval French taster (Modern French tâter), English ‘to taste’, ‘to test’ and the modern French neologisms le test, tester.

This process of re-borrowing is not uncommon. As has been mentioned earlier, some seven hundred years ago the lawyers of medieval England were in the process of developing the semantic range of large numbers of Anglo-French terms such as record to cover the needs of an expanding legal vocabulary that had to move with the times. In recent years some of these words have been taken back into French with non-legal meanings. However, it was not only in the legal profession in England that new semantic values were being attached to insular French terms destined to be re-borrowed into modern French centuries later. As early as c.1265 William de Waddington uses opportunité in his Manuel des Pechez in the modern English sense.65. The French media personalities and other innovators who affect to prefer opportunité to occasion may perhaps not ‘realize’ – another, if later, ‘false friend’ – that they are simply taking back a very old French word centuries after the medieval inhabitants of perfidious Albion had altered its meaning.

Another type of difficulty arises from the medieval confusion of prefixes. There are many cases where the affinity between modern English and French terms is masked by the cavalier treatment meted out to nominal and verbal prefixes in the medieval period wherever French was used. Although the separation of prefixes in continental French is by no means as uniform as the manuals of Old French would pretend, it is true that Anglo-French seems to delight in p33 mixing up what theoretically ought to be semantically different – on occasion, even opposing – prefixes. An example of this kind of difficulty is illustrated by the English ‘to encroach’ and the modern French accrocher. Blame for the change of prefix cannot be laid solely at the door of those supposedly ignorant medieval Englishmen whose French is claimed to be so barbarous. During the medieval period continental French itself used the root verb croch(i)er, as well as the prefixed forms accroch(i)er and various spellings of encroch(i)er without distinction, so it is not surprising to find insular French using mainly encrocher, but also, from the fourteenth century, accrocher. Prefixation has helped to conceal the relationship between the development of these words in France and in England, but the semantic differences that have gradually grown up between the two are far more significant than their spelling, so that their original unity is not immediately obvious to those not acquainted with medieval French of both varieties, insular as well as continental. By the early fourteenth century the English lawyers had extended the sense of accrocher/encrocher to the sense of ‘ to usurp’, with the accompanying noun acrochement/encrochement meaning ‘usurpation (of rights, services, etc.)’.66 Godefroy (VIII Comp.,30) gives just one undated continental example of this legal sense for accrocher, and none at all under encrochier (III,122), but his single example may well indicate that the paucity of evidence from non-literary sources recorded in the current dictionaries of medieval French could possibly be deceptive and lead to false conclusions being drawn. If as much evidence were available from continental legal sources as has recently become available from insular records, it would be possible to attach greater firmness to the interpretation of these cases. However this may be, Godefroy’s sole example of the noun encrochemente (sic) comes from a statute of Henry VI of England, but accrochement/encrochement had been current in the legal language of England from the beginning of the fourteenth century, long before Henry VI’s time.67 p34

The lack of respect shown for the principles of ‘etymological’ prefixation in medieval French on both sides of the Channel is well demonstrated by ‘to enjoy’, ‘enjoyment’ etc. that once formed a set of parallel terms in English and French. Continental Old French had the simple verb joir and the compounds enjoir, and esjoir, together with various nouns and adjectives derived from them. The prefixes attaching to these forms ought theoretically to have indicated different senses, but this did not happen in practice, so that their meanings largely overlap. Joir survives in modern French as jouir, but has retained only a sexual connotation, whilst the compounds enjoir and esjoir have disappeared from the language. Anglo-French had not only joir, enjoir and esjoir, but ajoir as well, all found also with a change of conjugation as joier, enjoier, esjoier etc., after the fashion of many Anglo-Norman verbs. The enjoir/enjoier form lives on as the modern English ‘enjoy’, but there is now little in French to suggest the parallelism that existed across the Channel hundreds of years ago.

Examples such as these could be multiplied without any difficulty and have a certain morphological interest as showing the different ways in which faux amis have been created. Far more important, however, as a measure of the overall impact of Anglo-French on the vocabulary of modern English is the semantic content of faux amis as they emerge in all branches of social life, particularly in the specialized registers of vocabulary developed from the thirteenth century onwards to cater68 for the needs of growing professions. To choose at random69 from a mass of possible examples in the general, non-specialist register of language, there is the case of travail and its English counterpart ‘travel’. Godefroy has no examples at all of the English sense for either travail or travailler, T-L only two quotations under travail (X, 538.38) and two under travailler – one of them marked by a question-mark as uncertain. In Anglo-French, however, the verb is abundantly attested in the sense of ‘travel’ from the last quarter of the twelfth century and the noun from the middle of the thirteenth.70 p35 Similarly, before the beginning of the thirteenth century journee is found in Anglo-French with its modern English sense.71 This brings to mind another of these general words that acquired their English sense under the influence of Anglo-French – contree. By the first half of the thirteenth century this was being used to mean ‘ homeland, native land’, a sense not recorded for continental Old French.72

Moving briefly to the medical register: by the middle of the thirteenth century medical texts were appearing in Anglo-French in increasing numbers and their compilers were adapting terms from the non-specialized vocabulary of the day to cover medical senses. Until recently little was known about this medical register, because few of the texts had been examined seriously, but this situation is now changing. In one of the most remarkable of these early treatises, the Practica Brevis of Platearius,73 we find matere used in the modern English sense of ‘matter, pus’, a meaning not attested for the word on the continent until centuries later.74 A systematic lexical study of the whole group of Anglo-French medical works could not fail to bring about wholesale revisions of the earliest attestations now attributed to a great many medical terms as well as the discovery of others not so far attested. Without, however, delving further into the area of medicine proper,75 brief mention must be made of a text that lies across the boundaries of medicine and society – the Ornatus p36 Mulierum.76 Again a thirteenth century work, this set of recipes for beauty treatment is a unique product of the French civilization of medieval England. Its editor points out (p.13) that it contains not only a number of hapaxes and words unattested in continental French until much later, but also words used in senses not found elsewhere. It is, in fact, another pointer towards the semantic creativity of Anglo-French.

Turning to the commercial register, the OED would have us believe that the modern English ‘grocer’ and ‘grocery’ are borrowings from Old French, despite the absence of any evidence to support this claim in either Godefroy or T-L. In fact, continental French never had the English meaning for these terms, but grocer in the sense of ‘wholesaler’ is found in Anglo-French as early as 1255 in a Close Roll of the reign of Henry III77 and again in 1280,78 with the modern sense following by the middle of the next century.79 Groserie likewise is attested in Anglo-French with the modern meaning before the end of the thirteenth century.80 When Middle English begins to record these terms in the early decades of the fifteenth century as a result of the thriving new Grocers’ Company with its Grocers’ Hall in London, it is simply continuing to use the established Anglo-French terminology that had been current in England for a century and more. Similarly, although no mention is made in the OED of any influence of insular French on the modern English ‘parcel’, such influence has been decisive. At first sight it might seem that modern French parcelle and modern English ‘parcel’ have little in common apart from their form, but in the Middle Ages both continental and insular French used parcele in legal and commercial contexts. In both France and England it meant one of the constituent pieces of land that went to make up an estate, a sense still retained in modern French but confined nowadays to the legal register in English. Continental and insular French also used parcele in the business sense of ‘item (in an account)’ or ‘itemised account’, although neither Godefroy nor T-L translate their examples correctly to show this meaning.81 In the fourteenth century Anglo-French developed the modern English meaning of ‘package’,82 a sense not attested on the continent. On the other hand, modern French is alone in using parcelle in the sense of its learned doublet particule, ‘tiny portion’. So parcelle and ‘parcel’ have become faux amis as a result of different developments in the two forms of medieval ‘business’ French, developments continued in modern French and English. Finally, leaving aside the obvious ‘sterling’ that has been borrowed back from English into French, where it started centuries ago,83 brief mention may perhaps be made of the more interesting Old French billon and the modern English ‘bullion’. Whilst medieval French on the continent knew this term only in the sense of lingot, ‘a lump of metal’, fourteenth-century Anglo-French used it both in this meaning and also, from 1335, to indicate a ‘melting-house’ or ‘mint’ where the untreated precious metal was made into coin.84

The most striking area of language, however, in which Anglo-French showed its creativity was the legal register, where faux amis are so abundant and so far apart in meaning that the standard dictionaries of Old French are of little use for anyone attempting to understand the extensive body of English law couched in French. In the scope of an article all that can be done is to pick out a few examples to p38 serve as illustrations of a mass of evidence. To start at the beginning of the alphabet: from the second half of the thirteenth century the verb abattre is frequently used in transitive, intransitive and reflexive forms in legal senses not recorded in either Godefroy or T-L.85 At the same time the English lawyers go on to make use of the derived nouns abattement, abatour, abateresse and the adjective abat(t)able, none of which developed on the continent.

The terms grouped around abet offer another good example of the way in which much of the legal vocabulary of modern English has been constituted. To all his quotations under abet (I, 22) Godefroy attaches the meanings ruse, finesse, fraude, with no mention of the modern English sense of ‘instigation’. This latter meaning may indeed be read into his two final quotations, but both of these are Anglo-French, although not indicated as such in the dictionary. The sense of ‘instigation’ seems not to have been developed on the continent at any time, but solely in England. Abet is attested in Anglo-French from the twelfth century in its continental sense of ‘trick, ruse’, 87 but from the beginning of the fourteenth century onwards the p39 later Anglo-French and modern English sense of ‘instigation’ is evident. The development of the verb abeter and the nouns abettement and abettour confirm that the meaning ‘instigation, prompting’ attaching to this group of words in modern English comes through Anglo-French and not directly from continental French. Godefroy’s entries for the verb abeter (I,22) are once again very revealing. All his continental quotations have the sense of tromper, duper, but after these he gives two which are glossed exciter, inciter, favoriser without their being marked in the dictionary as Anglo-French. The uninitiated reader might wrongly assume, therefore, that they are continental, but no continental evidence whatever is provided for the specifically English sense of ‘to incite’. As early as the end of the 12c. however, the insular Li Roman des Romans provides a very clear example of this meaning when castigating the venality of bishops. Towards the end of the thirteenth century (c.1292) both Britton and the Year Books give confirmatory examples.88 Abettement and abet(t)our are peculiar to Anglo-French, as shown in Godefroy I,22-3 and FEW 15,100, but are found much earlier than these authorities would suggest.89 This means that even before the onset of the thirteenth century the insular abet group and its continental counterpart were faux amis thanks to the semantic creativity of Anglo-French.

The case of the ‘able’ group is somewhat different. The latinizing tendency which altered the appearance of many Old French words during the later Middle Ages introduced the modern habile p40 (Latin habilis) to gradually oust90 the etymological able from the French language and so obscure the fact that habile and ‘able’ are a pair of faux amis. Old French able had the literal and figurative meaning ‘able, capable’ etc., and both form and meaning were taken into Anglo-French in the normal way. As with abet, however, the semantic unity of continental and insular French was broken when the English lawyers took able into their professional vocabulary as ‘(legally) qualified’ in the second half of the thirteenth century.91 The dictionaries of Old French give no evidence for the development of such a legal sense. Nor did central French apparently go on to make the negative non able 92 or the further coinages ableté and noun-ableté found in the legal French of England93 together with the verbs abler, enabler and the negative desabler,94 of which the compound forms have come through into modern English. p41

The French amende and English ‘amends’ are an obvious pair of faux amis, but continental Old French cannot explain why English uses the collective singular ‘amends’, whilst the French amende is commonly used in the singular form. The explanation lies, yet again, in Anglo-French. Significantly, Godefroy’s earliest attestation under amende (VIII Comp., 102), contains not the normal singular form amende, but the collective form amendes, meaning ‘a fine’. It comes not from a continental source but from the laws of William the Conqueror, the earliest Anglo-French legal text, drawn up around 1110-20. From then on amendes is regularly used in legal Anglo-French in the sense of a pecuniary fine or ‘amends, damages’,95 with the expression faire les amendes being attested by the end of the thirteenth century.96 Middle English translates this legal Anglo-French expression quite literally – as so often – and produces ‘to make amends’, a natural process for men who used French in their legal work alongside their native English. Continental French has no direct role to play in explaining ‘amends’.

The modern French adverb assez and the modern English noun ‘asset’ form one of the most curious pairs of faux amis. In both France and England in the thirteenth century the lawyers used the phrase faire assez (a) in the sense of ‘to recompense’, ‘to make due satisfaction (to)’. In both countries steps were taken to complete the passage of assez from adverb to noun.97 As far as England is concerned, already in the earlier part of the century the author of the Life of St. John the Almsgiver uses the possessive adjective mun with asez; at roughly the same time des acez (‘the majority’) is found in Dermot, and before the end of the century Britton uses the expression fere le p42 asset de, thus removing all possible doubt as to the new substantival status of what was originally an adverb. In England assez was seen as a plural noun, with a new singular asset.98 The plural noun developed in English from its original meaning of ‘sufficient property to meet claims’ to the general sense of ‘property, possessions’, with the singular ‘asset’ taking on the modern sense of ‘(useful) quality, advantage’. In France, although assez was treated as a noun no later than the Roman de Renart and the Roman de la Rose, there is no evidence that it ever moved beyond the senses of ‘sufficiency’ and, later, ‘satisfaction, amends’.

The modern English ‘to attach’ is obviously borrowed from the French attacher, but in its legal sense has no parallel in continental French, either medieval or modern. As early as 1215 the French of England had developed the specialized senses of ‘to arrest (a person)’, ‘to seize (goods or chattels)’, going on later to make further legal senses for the verb, together with the nouns attaché (‘arrested person’) and attachement (‘writ providing for the seizure of a person’ or ‘seizure of goods or chattels’), not to mention an adjective/noun attachable (‘that may be lawfully constrained to appear in court’).99 Once again, the lawyers of medieval England have left their mark on the modern language.

A similar case of specialization is presented by the pair empêcher/’to impeach’. Godefroy’s very first attestation of empêcher is taken from Anglo-French – the Oxford Psalter – and carries the basic sense of the Latin impedicare ‘to ensnare, entrap’. For some two centuries after the Conquest both insular and continental forms of French used empescher without any semantic divergence separating them. In the p43 later Middle Ages both in England and France there were added to the sense of ‘to hinder, impede’ a number of legal specializations – ‘to hinder, disturb in the enjoyment of one’s rights’, ‘to hold, seize’, ‘to accuse’ – but it is in England in the fourteenth century that the current meaning ‘to accuse of treason’ appears. The modern difference in meaning between empêcher and ‘to impeach’ is yet again the result of the work of English lawyers using and adapting Anglo-French in their professional work.100

Without attempting to deal even briefly with the many legal terms such as the French suite and English ‘suit/suite’, or trier/’to try’, that form pairs of faux amis whose semantic history would call for a lengthy exposition, perhaps a final simple example may serve to make the general point. Haineux can still be used in modern French in general contexts to refer to people, their character, attitudes etc., but in Anglo-French it was already being taken into the legal register by the early fourteenth century and has become the modern English ‘heinous’ with its restricted application to crime.101 As so often with the terminology of the law, it is a matter for great regret that in their treatment of terms such as these the current dictionaries of medieval French do not go outside the narrow literary register to explore the administrative and, particularly, legal developments of French on its home ground. Until authoritative information about this vital sector of continental Old French is available, any estimate of the originality p44 of developments taking place in Anglo-French from the later thirteenth century onwards must remain to a certain extent speculative.

The Englishmen who used and developed Anglo-French in the course of their professional duties did not become monolingual once they left work behind for the day. The lawyers and administrators who extended the semantic range of terms such as apel/apeler or purchaz/purchaser in England, making medieval faux amis in the process, were the same people who at table ate grapes, raisins or prunes, creating more mundane faux amis. In her Deneke Lecture Miss Pope refers to grapes and raisins as being products of France imported into England with their names, but makes no mention of the vitally important change of meaning they underwent in Anglo-French and which has persisted into modern English. Had she gone on to cite ‘currants’, she would have come face to face with the inescapable fact of the creativity of Anglo-French. The Local Port Book of Southampton for 1435-6 shows that a certain Baptiste de Flisco paid customs dues of 54s. 2d on bringing in a cargo of resins de courance 102 (‘raisins from Corinth’ – i.e. ‘currants’). No equivalent term is to be found in either Godefroy or T-L, and the date of 1435 is well in advance of the ‘c.1500’ given by the MED, which mistakenly gives the origin of the expression as ‘O.F.’, not ‘A.F.’. That the educated classes in medieval England did not ‘eat in French’, as it were, so much as ‘in Anglo-French’, is confirmed by the fascinating collections of Anglo-French culinary recipes from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century recently published by C.B. Hieatt & R. Jones in Speculum 61 (1986), pp. 859-82. These basic social documents cannot be dismissed as mere translations brought in from the ‘real’ French across the Channel: the editors are at pains to point out that ‘the Anglo-Norman recipes make considerable use of fruits and flowers which are not to be found in any medieval French recipe, and they are usually far more specific and discriminating in suggesting the spicing of different dishes’ (p. 860).

Whether it be in recipes for kitchen or sick-room, in the development of the English legal system, administration or commerce, the semantic innovation displayed by Anglo-French right across the board is the root cause of the differences that become increasingly noticeable between the two kinds of French separated by the Channel as the thirteenth century moves towards its close. English at this time had yet to establish itself as a language of record, and Latin was not widely known amongst many of the nobility and the emerging middle class, the leaders of the nation’s growing commercial life: Anglo-French occupied the middle ground. From its strategic base in the south-east of England the lexis of Anglo-French was well placed to penetrate into English as the dialectal variations that divided medieval England gave way to a more nationally accepted language.The dialect of English spoken by most of those Englishmen who used French in their professional lives enjoyed a decisive advantage, as did Anglo-French, in that it was the linguistic vehicle of that part of the country which held both the seat of government and the centre of commercial life. As such, this dialect was destined to become dominant and be adopted as the standard form of the language, remaining so to the present day – Received Standard English. Chaucer, appropriately the poet with the French name, rather than the Germanic-sounding Langland, would determine the shape of modern English, with all that this implied for English vocabulary. The faux amis are a living reminder of this development.

To treat later Anglo-French as though it were no more than an insignificant and transient dialect, characterized by nothing more than a multitude of failures to observe what is claimed to be the Parisian norm, is no more valid than condemning the glorious architecture of the fourteenth-century cathedral at Wells on the grounds that it does not conform to the model of Chartres. Until recently, no realistic estimate could be made of the debt owed by modern English to the despised faus français d’Angleterre: the influential prejudice against later Anglo-French ensured that the mass of evidence it had to offer historians and lawyers as well as historical linguists remained very largely unknown. This may perhaps go some way towards explaining why the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary has seen fit to retain unchanged its inadequate and at times grossly misleading etymological introduction to its lemmas.103

That it is now possible to make an informed assessment of the role played by Anglo-French in the development of modern English is due in considerable measure to the mass of documentary evidence now available for study in the unpublished work of two distinguished p46 scholars – Elsie Shanks and J.P. Collas. The former left behind at her death some years ago the draft of a remarkable dictionary of Law French and the latter is survived by his unique fichier, a vast collection of literary, administrative and legal terms intended for a dictionary of Anglo-French.104 Thanks to these two fundamental research tools future scholars will be able to revise the derogatory and dismissive judgements passed on a largely unknown language.



1. E.g. A.C. Baugh and T. Cable, A History of the English Language, 3rd ed. (London, 1978), pp.167-173 [back]
2. The latest of these works is by Philip Thody and Howard Evans, Faux Amis & Key Words, (Cambridge, 1985). [back]
3. The Anglo-Norman Element in our Vocabulary: Its Significance for our Civilization, (Manchester, 1944). [back]
4. The English ‘marshall’ and the French maréchal are obvious faux amis which have separated over the centuries, on account not only of semantic change, but also of the flexibility of English syntax that so readily makes verbs out of nouns (e.g. to fax, to harness, to power, to steam-roller, to helicopter, etc.). [back]
5. The MED attests ‘joiner’ in England as early as 1322, well in advance of Godefroy’s first attestation of 1396, which is Anglo-French. The word is, however, found in Anglo-French as early as the thirteenth century, being the same word as T-Ls joinere ‘link, coupling’, found in ms.A of Bibbesworth’s Tretiz. Other mss. of this work have juneres (ms.T f.130v; ms.C f.11va) and jungers (ms.5 f.152v). T-L muddies the waters here, making two separate entries joigneor and joinere for what is clearly one word with two senses. [back]
6. See Godefroy (IV,282) and AND (3,336). [back]
7. (Manchester, 1934). [back]
8. She describes Anglo-Norman after the middle of the thirteenth century as ‘a sort of “Low French”, characterised by a more and more indiscriminate use of words, sounds and forms, but half-known, markedly similar in its debasement to the “Low Latin” of the Merovingian period in Gaul.’ ibid. p. 424. [back]
9. ed. C. Johnson (London, 1950). [back]
10. set iam cohabitantibus Anglicis et Normannis et alterutrum uxores ducentibus vel nubentibus, sic permixte sunt nationes ut vix decerni possit hodie, de liberis loquor, quis Anglicus quis Normannus sit genere (p.53). [back]
11. Record Commission, 1812. [back]
12. Record Commisssion, 1767. [back]
13. Record Commission, 1827-34. [back]
14. ed. T. Riley, Rolls Series (London, 1859-62). [back]
15. [back]
16. ed. P. Studer (Southampton, 1913). [back]
17. ed. M. Bateson, Selden Society 18 & 21 (1904, 1906). [back]
18. Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1938. [back]
19. ed. P. Studer (Southampton, 1913). [back]
20. ed. C. Gross (Oxford, 1890). [back]
21. ed. W.W. Shirley, Rolls Series (London, 1862-6). [back]
22. ed. F.J. Tanquerey, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 23 (1939), pp. 487-503. [back]
23. ed. H. Johnstone (London, 1931). [back]
24. ed. M.D. Legge, ANTS 4 (1941). [back]
25. ed. F.J. Tanquerey (Paris, 1916). [back]
26. ed. A. Lowe, Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1954. [back]
27. e.g. ‘The Household Ordinances of Edward II’, ed. T.F. Tout, in The Place of the Reign of Edward II in English History (Manchester, 1936); John of Gaunt’s Register (1371-75), ed. S. Armitage-Smith, Camden Society, 3rd series, 20 & 21 (1911); ibid. (1379-83), ed. E.C. Lodge & R. Somerville, Camden Society, 3rd Series, 56 & 57 (1937). [back]
28. Year Books of Edward II, xxvi p. 154. [back]
29. Statutes of the Realm, I, p.53. [back]
30. les Lumbards purchacent un relés de Wauter Year Books of Edward II, xxvi p.156 (1321); Come plusours de Roialme vendont & bargaignent diverses choses, & contraites (l. contractes) font od Lumbards et autres aliens Rotuli Parliamentorum II, p.240 (1350). [back]
31. menuet, virli, lumbard et cele manere de dras Liber Custumarum, p.125. This 13c. attestation is well over two centuries earler than the date given in the FEW (5,160):,’Mfr. lombardie f. “esp. d’étoffe” (ende 15-16 jh.)’ [back]
32. ed. Annie Owen (Paris, 1929). [back]
33. see D. Oschinsky, Walter of Henley and other Treatises on Estate Management and Accounting, (Oxford, 1975). [back]
34. ed. M.K. Pope, Modern Language Review 5 (1910), pp.185-93. [back]
35. ed. R.C. Johnston, ANTS Plain Texts Series 5 (London, 1987). [back]
36. see H.G. Richardson, ‘Letters of the Oxford Dictatores ‘, in Oxford Historical Society, New Series, vol.5 (1942), pp.360-416. [back]
37. ‘les clers q’ont degree en esglise cathedrale, colegiale ou en escoles’ Statutes of the Realm I, p.381 (1363); (an Oxford student dare not ask his father for more money) ‘pur doute q’il sustreiereit ma exhibicione’ ‘Letters of the Oxford Dictatores ‘, p.391 (1380). [back]
38. The earliest of these dates from 1396 and was edited by J. Gessler (Bruxelles, 1934). [back]
39. ed. W.H. Dunham, Selden Society 69 (1952). [back]
40. ed. W.J. Whittaker, Selden Society 7 (1895). [back]
41. ed. F.W. Maitland, Selden Society 4 (1891). [back]
42. ed. J.G. Turner & T.F.T. Plucknett, Selden Society 66 (1951). [back]
43. ed. F.M. Nichols (Oxford, 1865). [back]
44. Year Books … Edward I, Rolls Series, 21-22, p.447. [back]
45. Year Books of Edward II, Selden Society, iv. p.xlii. [back]
46. See M.T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, England 1066-1307, (London, 1979). [back]
47. ‘come les gentz d’Escoz par lour sotilté ont destruit & horstreit la monoye d’Engleterre, & les font en lour coynage a meindre value qe la moneye d’Engleterre …Rotuli Parliamentorum II p.318 (1373)’ . Not only is this date earlier than the ’15 jh.’ given in the FEW (2/2, 1533), but the meaning of coynage here is as in modern English ‘currency’, ‘system of coins in use’, not ‘action de frapper au coin; le coin’ as stated in the FEW which appears to have adopted uncritically the incorrect translations given by Godefroy for his examples. [back]
48. In Bibbesworth’s Tretiz ms.G reads: E coingne est il ensement Ki fet la moneie de l’argent (f.288vb), whilst other mss. (e.g. A,B,C,T,O) have forms of coigner ‘coiner’, ‘minter’, with C giving the Middle English gloss ‘menetere’ (f.9vb) and O the Middle English gloss ‘coigner’ (f.337ra). Once again the FEW (2/2, 1533) has been led into error by its uncritical acceptance of faulty scholarship. Anglo-French coign does not mean ‘celui qui frappe les monnaies’, but simply ‘stamp (for making coins)’. The incorrect translation copied by the FEW comes from Annie Owen’s edition of Bibbesworth, where she fails to recognize that Anglo-French ki can mean ‘which’ just as readily as ‘who’ (see AND sub qui). The final quotation in the FEW, taken from the very late Register of Henry Chichele …, ed. E.F. Jacob (London, 1914), II, p.383 (1429), is unequivocal and makes no sense unless read as ‘coinage, currency’. [back]
49. Legal senses of these words, involving duties and privileges, were developed only in Normandy and Anglo-French (FEW 10,297), from where they eventually passed into Middle English. See AND and MED. [back]
50. Note the use of prefixes in the following quotations: ‘ly ne moy ne averyoms cel escrit en poer pur avoyter (i.e. ‘nullify’) ne pur abriger ne en nule manere autre chaunger’ Brevia Placitata, ed. G.J. Turner and T.F.T. Plucknett, Selden Society 66 (1951), p.111 (1285); ‘ke la lettere del escrit ne seyt pas changé ne avoyté (i.e. ‘annulled’) ne amenucé’ ibid. 111 (1285); ‘qe R.Y. presentereit al avoidance (i.e. ‘vacancy’) procheyn qe la eglise se voyda (i.e. ‘became empty’) en sa vye’ Year Books of Edward II, Selden Society, v, p.143 (1312); en cest cas le recorde ne fuit dedit mez avoidé (‘cancelled’) Readings and Moots at the Inns of Court, ed. S.E. Thorne, Selden Society 71 (1952), p.22, note 1; cf. ‘la eglise s’envoida (i.e. ‘became vacant’) par resignement etc., par quele avoidance (i.e. ‘vacancy, becoming vacant’) A., G., M. presenteront … un lour clerk’ Novae Narrationes, ed. Elsie Shanks, Selden Society 80 (1963), p.44 (1285-90). The FEW (14,593) gives only ‘Agn. avoider v.a. “détruire” (1430)’, with no mention of the noun avoidance or of any of the 13c. attestations of the verb forms given above. [back]
51. ‘Ke vot aver semblance Regarde le rois de France E sun achevement.’ Anglo-Norman Political Songs, ed. I.S.T. Aspin, ANTS 11 (1953), p.44. The FEW (2/1, 339) does not mention the English sense of ‘achievement’. [back]
52. cf.AND sub pas1 . [back]
53. cf.AND [back]
54. e.g. ‘the pace of change has been rapid’; ‘the car shot off at a spanking pace’, etc. [back]
55. The Anonimalle Chronicle, ed. V.H. Galbraith (Manchester, 1927), p.144. [back]
56. A Documentary History of Building in England down to 1540 (Oxford, 1952), p.418. Like so many other Medieval Latin terms, this is no more than a calque of the French term. [back]
57. ibid. p.434. [back]
58. The FEW (17,526) makes no mention of the Anglo-French meaning in the medieval period, giving only ‘terrasse, tourelle sur un bâtiment, qui permettait d’avoir une vue étendue (seit Fur. 1690)’. Nor is there any reference to the modern English ‘garret’, with its connotation of poverty. [back]
59. ‘N’Ysolt ne dei jo trichier, Ne ma femme ne dei laissier’ Le Roman de Tristan, par Thomas, ed. J. Bédier, SATF (1902-5) vv.503-4 (c.1170); ‘Car unc ben ne finat ki trichat sun seignur’ The Romance of Horn by Thomas, ed. M.K. Pope, ANTS 9-10 (1955), v.5174; ‘… guarnir la gent Que Simun les triche e ment’ Vie de S. Clement, TCC MS R.3.46, ed. N.K. Willson, Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge, 1952, v.4606 (early 13c.); ‘A trechier metent tute lur cure, En nul liu n’esteit fei seure’ La Vie d’Edouard le Confesseur, ed. Ö. Södergard (Uppsala, 1948), v.529 (1163-70); ‘E cist serra lecchieres, Homicides, tricheres’ Le Livre de Sibile, ed. H. Shields, ANTS 37 (1979), v.560 (mid 12c.); ‘du colverd aversier, enfernal trecheour’ The French Text of the Ancrene Riwle, ed. W.H. Trethewey, EETS 240 (1958), p.205 (13c.); ‘ (Knights) Ki maintienent les tricheries’ Adgars Marienlegenden, ed. C. Neuhaus, Altfr. Bibl. IX (1886), p.144.127 (1160-70); ‘il voleit errer tricherusement’ The Romance of Horn by Thomas, ed. M.K. Pope, ANTS 9-10 (1955), v. 5044 (c.1170). [back]
60. ed. A. Bell, ANTS 14-16 (1960), v.3120 var. [back]
61. ‘Joe n’en dorreie un ail – tiel en purra grucier’ The Romance of Horn by Thomas, ed. M.K. Pope, ANTS 9-10 (1955), v. 900; see also vv. 1797, 4327, 4853 and ‘grucement’ v. 3478. [back]
62. e.g. ‘Ses bons mires i envea Ke sun pis ben li tasterent’ Chardry’s Josaphaz … ed. J. Koch, Altfr. Bibl. I (1879), v.1067; ‘Les dames vunt le vin taster. Tant le trovent riant e cler, …’ St Modwenna, eds. A.T. Baker & A. Bell, ANTS 7 (1947) v.2855; ‘qe les baillifs … sourveyent e tastent tutz les vyns’ The Black Book of the Admiralty ed. T. Twiss, Rolls Series (1871-6), vol.II, p.176; ‘qi (=que) null tonell soit plaine et tasté par le countrollour’ ‘The Household Ordinances of Edward II’, ed. T.F. Tout, in The Place of the Reign of Edward II in English History (Manchester, 1936) p.316. [back]
63. ‘Vous tastez vostre plé avant la mayn’ Year Books of Edward II, xxii, p.18 (1317-8); ‘ils deivent taster et sercher … si le roi de France desire tant la venue’ The War of Saint Sardos (1323-5), ed. P. Chaplais, Camden Society 87 (1954), p.183. [back]
64. ed. K.M.E. Murray (Canterbury, 1945), p.149. [back]
65. ‘Qe sul od femme ne seiez, Car ki quert opportunité Il consent al peché’ ed. F.J. Furnival EETS 119, 123 (1901-3), vv.5991-3. This is much earlier than the FEW‘s reference to a similar meaning in the late fourteenth-century work of Bersuire (7,376). [back]
66. ‘mes qe nous usomz acroché la garde de nostre tort demeine’ (‘although we had usurped the wardship by our wrongful action’) Year Books … Edward I, 30-31, p.313 (1302-3); ‘moeva guerre a nostre seignur le Roi en Gascoigne …, acrochant a lui ses droitures et possessions’ (‘… usurping to himself his rights and possessions’) Rotuli Parliamentorum, vol. II, p.237 (1351-52). [back]
67. ‘il semble qe nent contre esteant cel acrochement des services q’il acrocha, q’il est tut estrange a ceste seignorye q’il cleime a ore’ (‘it seems that notwithstanding this usurpation of services he is wholly a stranger/ has no right whatever to this seignory he now claims’) Year Books … Edward I, 33-35, p.35 (1305-7). This quotation also antedates the sole mention given in the FEW (16,403), taken from a letter of 1320 in Tanquerey’s Recueil de Lettres anglo-françaises (Paris, 1916), p.111. [back]
68. This comes from an Anglo-French aphetic form of continental Old French achater, being found in the forms chater, chatre or kater and so providing a good example of faux amis that are not immediately obvious to the untrained eye. [back]
69. ‘Random’ is yet another Anglo-French element of the modern English lexis. cf. AND sub randun. [back]
70. ‘Puis qu’il est de si loinz travaillez …’ The Anglo-Norman Alexander, ed. Brian Foster, ANTS 29-31 (1976), v.7544 (c.1175-85); ‘Nous vous prioms que vous voillez travaller jusque a Ewre’ Letters of Edward, Prince of Wales, 1304-5, ed. H. Johnstone, Roxburghe Club (London, 1931), p.115; (a legal case is to be heard in London rather than in the provinces) ‘pur esparnier le travail e le serment dé xxiiij chivalers’ Brevia Placitata, ed. G.J. Turner & T.F.T. Plucknett, Selden Society 66 (1951), p.44 (c.1285); there is another example on p.156; the arrangements for the accounts of Edward II’s household in the early fourteenth century are as follows: ‘si le roy travaille, et home ne poet acounter pur le travaille … ‘(‘if the king is travelling and the accounts cannot be done on account of the travelling …’) ‘The Household Ordinances of Edward II’, p.306. The earliest reference to this meaning in Anglo-French given by the FEW (13/2,289) comes from the Fouke Fitz Warin of 1325-40, with a continental example provided by Froissart. The quotation from the Anglo-Norman Alexander clearly antedates these by well over a century. [back]
71. ‘Ore est sire Amylloun aleez, Qe ne resest sun journé, Deqes en sun pays est venuz’ Amis and Amiloun, ed. E. Kölbing, Altengl. Bibl. II (1844), p.160, v.110 (end 12th c.); ‘Boer feistes vus ceste jurnee Quant ci m’avez issi truvé’ Chardry’s Josaphaz … ed. J. Koch, Altfr. Bibl. I (1879), v.292 (end 12th c.). The idea of distance is clearly more important here than that of time. The FEW (3,103) confirms that this sense was also found on the continent. [back]
72. ‘Boves s’est alé en son contré’ Der anglonormannische Boeve de Haumtone, ed. A. Stimming, Bibl. Norm. VII (Halle, 1899), v.1413. The FEW (2/2,1117) has no record of this sense on the continent. [back]
73. transcribed from Cambridge MS O.1.20 by Tony Hunt. [back]
74. ‘Quant … l’en crache une purreture … si est bon signe. … L’urine tenue et blanche … se signefie ravisement de matere et mort’ f.152r. The dates given in the FEW (6/1,481-2) are 1409 for the plural form matieres and the 16c. for the singular (Paré). [back]
75. The forthcoming book on Popular Medicine in Thirteenth-Century England by Tony Hunt will doubtless treat this whole register in depth. [back]
76. L’Ornement des Dames (Ornatus Mulierum), ed. P. Ruelle (Brussels, 1967). [back]
77. see MED sub grocer. [back]
78. ‘qe esluz soient … xij prodeshommes … qe ne soient grossours de vin ne taverners’ Liber Custumarum p.304. The FEW (4,277) gives the continental form grossier as marchand en gros at about the same time, 1260, but not the modern English sense. [back]
79. ‘R. de B., draper et J. de la R., groser’ Croniques de London, ed. G.J. Aungier, Camden Society, vol.28 (1844), p.91. [back]
80. ‘qe nul ne vende groserie ne espicery’ Liber Albus p.588 (c.1320). [back]
81. Godefroy (X, 272-3) renders parcelles as ‘petite partie d’un tout’ in the following trade context: ‘lez parcelles de lour receits’, where the reference is clearly to the items that go to make up the receipts. T-L (7, 203) gloss parcel incorrectly as ‘Posten, Teilbetrag’ in this quotation: ‘mettre en sommes toutes lez debtes de parcel a parcel’. Again the meaning is not so much ‘instalment’, as ‘item’. The Local Port Book of Southampton for 1435-6, ed. Brian Foster (Southampton, 1963) furnishes evidence both for the sense ‘itemised account’ (‘A.S. a rescheu … lxxiiij tone de oyle, laquelle oyle est mise es parcell de A.S. come apiert en ses parcell’ p.92) and also ‘instalment’ (‘… pur payer parcel de la ferme de la dite ville’ p.120). The FEW (7,675-6) has no mention of the Anglo-French senses. [back]
82. (Customs officers are instructed to account for) ‘totes les parceles resçus par tuz les portz’ Statutes of the Realm I, p.197; ‘en une autre parcell Monsire H. de A. resceust del doun des ditz Franceys mille franks’ Rotuli Parliamentorum III, p. 157. [back]
83. cf. Godefroy X,714., T-L 3,1389-90, FEW 17,229 and AND sub esterling. Only in Anglo-French is the term is attested as ‘ money’ in general, the earliest attestation coming from Bozon’s Contes moralisés before the end of the thirteenth century. [back]
84. ‘qe totes genz … pussent sauvement porter as les (sic) eschanges au billon … argent en plate, vessel d’argent … & illoeques receivent bone & covenable eschange’ Statutes of the Realm I, p.273 (1335); ‘… porter … plate d’argent, billettes d’or … a nostre billion ou a noz eschanges’ ibid. p.338 (1353). See also AND sub Godefroy (X,326) gives billonnage, billonnement, billonner and billonneur, all relating to the illegal traffic in counterfeit money, but not billon itself. Although the FEW (1,364) gives the meaning lieu où l’on fondait les lingots for billon, it regrettably provides neither a date nor a source-reference for this sense, but is probably following T-L (1,977) which proposes a tentative Münzstätte to translate billon in a work by Watriquet de Couvin. [back]
85. ‘par mulz de exceptions poet hom abatre (‘quash’) un bref’ G.E. Woodbine, Four Thirteenth Century Law Tracts, (New Haven, 1910), p.65 (c.1267); ‘vous n’avetz mie garauntie d’abatre ‘stop, prevent’) feyre (i.e. ‘a fair’)Year Books of Edward II, xvi, p.188 (1313); ‘si Maud hut devié, hut le bref abbatu ou noun?’ (‘… would the writ have abated/become null and void or not?’) Year Books … Edward I, 20-21 p.345; ‘si plusours demandent en commun e un de eus merge avant issue de play, le bref se abatera ‘ (‘will abate/become null and void’) ib. 225; ‘aprés la mort le donour se abaty en (‘entered/ took possession of) cel tenement par sa propre force’ Britton I, p.336 (c.1292); ‘… H. et I. entrerent primes et qe aprés A. et C. s’abatirent sur (‘entered, took possession of’) lour possession’ Year Books … Edward III, 11-12 p.279 (1337). The FEW (24,17) shows that abatre could have the sense of ‘to annul (a marriage, etc.)’ on the continent from the later 12c., but gives no indication that it was used, either grammatically or semantically, as extensively as in insular French. [back]
. [back]
87. ‘Si se porpense que il ferad abeite A l’acort prendre que li est trestoleite’ Li Roman des Romans, ed. F.J. Tanquerey (London, 1922), vv. 549-50 (end 12c.); ‘Ceo dist Robert Bikez, Qui mout par set d’abez’ Le Lai du Cor, ed. C.T. Erickson, ANTS 24, vv. 589-90 (13c.); ‘ceo fut par malice e abette de luy meismes qe fut bailif’ Year Books … Edward I, 30-31, p. 401 (1302). The ease with which the sense of ‘trick’ can pass to that of ‘instigation’ is well illustrated by the following quotation, where either meaning is possible: ‘Si Adam ust fet come sage home A Eve dut defendre la poume, Si come ele fust a li suget, E ele n’ust, pur nul abet Del serpent, la poume mangé’ La Bonté des Femmes ed. P.Meyer, Romania 15 (1886), p.320, vv.238-42 (13c.). FEW. (15/1, 100) has only the sense ruse, tromperie. [back]
88. ‘E N.C. par abet le avandit J. si pristrent la charue junte …’ Select Bills in Eyre, ed. W.C. Bolland, Selden Society 30 (1914) p.26 (1285); ‘Le estatut est entendu la ou abet est fet par malis’ Year Books … Edward I, 20-21, p.313 (1292); ‘lequel (=’whether’) la beste fust aprise a ceo fere et abbeté a teus maus fere’ Britton I, p.16 (c.1292); ‘Responet si vus l’enbettates ou noun. Ke yl l’ebetta par malise’ Year Books … Edward I, 20-21, p.313 (1292). Although FEW. (15/1,99) gives ‘exciter, inciter’ for abeter, no source-reference is provided, which arouses the suspicion that, once again, incorrect glosses may have been accepted uncritically from Godefroy. [back]
89. ‘A nostre seignour le rey prie G.M. qe ad demoré vij aunz en dure prison a la Tour de Londres … pur (l. par) abettement de ses enemis ‘ Select Cases before the King’s Council, ed. I.S. Leadam and J.F. Baldwin, Selden Society 35 (1918), p.15 (1295); ‘juresdiccion aver sur les abbettours’ Mirror of Justices 193 (c.1289). [back]
90. This is the Anglo-French half of yet another pair of faux amis, its present difference in meaning from the modern French ôter (Old French oster) being due in large measure to its adoption into the legal language of England, where it had – amongst others – the non-continental sense of ‘to eject (from possessions etc.)’ from the time of Britton (c.1292). Godefroy (X,247) mentions what could be two continental legal references from the thirteenth century, but confines himself to printing only the form hoster without any supporting text. [back]
91. Before the thirteenth century was out able was being used in England not only of persons (as in modern English ‘able seaman’), but of coins in the sense of ‘valid, fit for use’ and of ships, ‘seaworthy’: ‘… ne sount mie ables a defenses ne de armes porter’ Britton II, p.5 (c.1292); ‘… ad yl granté la persone estre able’ (i.e. ‘legally fit to plead’) Year Books … Edward I, 21-22, p.301 (1293-4);’ Abusion est qe la monoie ne soit quarterable, q’ele n’est d’argent fin, qe ele tenu (l. soit tenu) par (l. pur) able si le forein cercle ne i soit entier’ ( i.e. ‘… considered to be good tender although the outer circle is not perfect’) Mirror of Justices p.156;’ nefs bonnes, ables et suffisants’ Black Book of the Admiralty, ed. T. Twiss, Rolls Series (1871-76), I, p.10. In FEW. (4,365-66) legal senses of the adjective and of disabler are given as Anglo-Norman only. Continental French is said to use only learned forms for such senses and only at a much later date (Estienne, 1538). [back]
92. ‘Une persone noun able … qe fust simoniak e escomengé’ Year Books … Edward I, 33-35 p. 47 (1304); the fact of being simoniac and excommunicated entails disqualification from bringing legal action. Incidentally, this quotation antedates Godefroy’s first attestation of simoniaque (X,676), thus invalidating the OED‘s derivation of the English ‘simoniac’ from continental French; ‘noun able (i.e. ‘disqualified’) e indigne a chescune manere de benefice’ Records of the Trial of Walter Langeton, ed. A. Beardwood, Camden Society 4th series, vol.6 (1969), p.150. [back]
93. ‘vous … deistes qe mesme cely J. …, fut mulieré, nyent dedisant donqes ableté (i.e. ‘ability to inherit’) en la persone Elyne’ Year Books … Edward III, 14, p.59 (1341); ‘ne nounableté (i.e. ‘legal disability’) en nostre persone ne alegget a mustrer qe nous ne sums nent heyr’ Year Books … Edward I, 30-31, p.55 (1302). [back]
94. ‘il pur ceo ne se desablereyt de la garranty’ (i.e. should not defeat/absolve himself from the warranty Year Books … Edward I, 30-31, p. 57 (1302); ‘demanda jugement, com devant, s’il avendra a ore a desabler (i.e. ‘render incapable’) celuy qe avant cez hurez il mesme avoit ablé’ (i.e. ‘admitted to be legitimate’) Year Books … Edward III 14, p.59 (1341); ‘… de luy enabler d’aver assise’ Readings and Moots … ed. S.E. Thorne, Selden Society 71 (1952), p.14 (1452). [back]
95. ‘ le pleintif perdi sa dette ou ses amendes ke aver dust’ Borough Customs ed. M. Bateson, Selden Society 18 (1904), I, p.98. [back]
96. ‘pur ceo agarde ceste curt que vous seiez en la mercy le seignur e que vous facez les amendes vers W. ‘ The Court Baron ed. F.W. Maitland, Selden Society 4 (1891), p.56 (c.1268). [back]
97. for continental evidence see Godefroy I,443-4, T-L 1,595 and FEW 24,183; for Anglo-French: ‘Ne en partirai que feit ne eiez De ma demande mun asez’ The Life of St John the Almsgiver, ed. K. Urwin, ANTS 38 (1980), v. 7104; (knights) ‘Dunt jo ne sai des acez lur nuns’ The Song of Dermot and the Earl, ed. G.H. Orpen (Oxford, 1892) v. 451; ‘adounc covendra fere le asset de totes (sc. conditions), a ceo qe le purchaz soit estable’ Britton, I, p. 240. It seems that Britton is already making a singular noun here, taking the ending of assez to indicate the plural. [back]
98. ‘… dit q’il avoit assez jour de bref purchacé’ (‘said that he had assets on the day when the writ was purchased’) Year Books of Edward II, ix, p.11; ‘tank’il avera fait gré et asseth (i.e.’satisfaction’) a la partie’ The Register of Daniel Rough, ed. K.M.E. Murray (Canterbury, 1945), p.22. [back]
99. ‘si le mort meime aukun en retast ainz k’il murust, le viscunte doit celui atacher ki est blasmé’ Borough Customs, ed. M. Bateson, Selden Society 18 (1904), I, p.13 (c.1215); ‘atachier et enbrever les chatels del mort’ Magna Carta, ed. J.C. Holt, English Historical Review 89 (1974), p.359 (1215); ‘les attachez jeterent asoynes, e les Justices ne les voyleyent aluer’ Rotuli Parliamentorum, I, p.3 (1278); ‘countai la manere del attachement, et de l’estat le attaché’ Recueil de Lettres anglo-françaises, ed. F.J. Tanquerey (Paris, 1916), p.75 (c.1300); ‘Le Abbé de Redyngge … porta le atachement vers les baylifs de Hereford’ Year Books of Edward I, 20-21, p.91 (1292); ‘le chef serjaunt de fé ly destreint pur (l. par) attachement lever e prist quatorze dé grosse bestes’ Documents illustrative of English History in the 13th and 14th centuries, ed. H. Cole, Record Commission, London, 1844, p.74 (1290);’ ceux qi se sustreent hors de nostre verge qe (i.e. ‘so that’) il ne soint attachables par noster Mareschal’ Britton I, p.172 (c.1292). [back]
100. The semantic development of empescher in France may be seen in Godefroy (III,56 & IX,440) and FEW (4,578-82). For England, the following selection of quotations may suffice to illustrate the passage from ‘to hinder’ to ‘to accuse of treason’: ‘Ele (sc. Death) enfin enpeche (=’ensnares’) Pape e ercheveche E prent en sa rei’ Le Sermon en Vers, ed. F.J. Tanquerey (Paris, 1922), v.1075; ‘l’execucion de noz maundementz … soit arieré ou empeschié (=’hindered’) en nule manere’ Parliamentary Writs I, p.393; ‘par la ou il sunt fundeez … en pure e perpetuele aumone, la sunt il travaillé e enpechez (= ‘hindered in the enjoyment of their rights’) de escheturs, viscuntes e autres ministres le Rey encuntre le furme de lur feffementz’ Documents illustrative of English History in the 13th & 14th centuries, ed. H. Cole (London, 1844), p.75 (this is found in a petition from an Irish abbey, dated 1290); ‘si ascun eit fet ascune faussetie en fet ou en dit, dunt il soit appelie ou enpecché (= ‘held, called to answer’) en jugement’ Mirror of Justices, p. 109 (c.1289); ‘qe nul ercevesqe ne evesqe ne soit empeschez (= ‘prosecuted, impeached’) devant noz Justices par cause de crime’ Statutes of the Realm I, p.302 (1344); ‘Come les Justices … ajuggeont les gentz qe sont empeschez (= ‘accused of treason’) devant eux come treitours … ‘ Rotuli Parliamentorum II, p.239 (1351). [back]
101. e.g. ‘ soun abatement q’est plus heynouse chose qe n’est lees’ Year Books of Edward II, ii, p.141 (1309); ‘excepcion de escomengement est si heynouse en sey’ ibid. viii, p. 165 (1313-14); ‘luy avoient accusé … des heynouses maters’ Rotuli Parliamentorum III p.300 (1392-93). This kind of legal material is not mentioned in FEW. (16,178). [back]
102. The Local Port Book of Southampton for 1435-6, ed. Brian Foster (Southampton, 1963), p.86. Courance should probably be read as Courante. [back]
103. In his latest book, Unlocking the English Language (London, 1989), Robert Burchfield laments the fact that: ‘Historical linguistics is everywhere in retreat’ (p.36), but admits that: ‘The shortcomings of the OED record for words of particular periods and from particular regions are also well known’ (p.169). It would appear that the Altfranzösisches Wörterbuch, the Middle English Dictionary and the Anglo-Norman Dictionary have all been ignored in the preparation of the new edition, so that, for English words of Romance origin, the etymological section still relies on the gleanings made by the original compilers of the dictionary many decades ago from Godefroy. Unfortunately, their knowledge of medieval French was not always sufficient for a correct interpretation of their findings. [back]
104. Both these works are now housed in the Anglo-Norman Research Centre of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. [back]