When did the Franks stop speaking a Germanic language?

From what is known about the Franks when did people think they stopped speaking a Germanic language and started speaking some form of Latin that could be considered an early form of French?

3 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Best Answer

    @ thomas - No, Franconia in Germany is named for the Franks settling there. No confusion at all.

    There's no clear answer to this because the evidence is sketchy. The terminus ante quem (point before which it must have happened) is the Strasbourg Oaths of 843. There, the armies of Charles the Bald (West Frankish kingdom, predecessor to modern France) and Louis the German (east Frankish kingdom, which would become the Holy Roman Empire and eventually Germany) met and exchanged vows of alliance. The oaths are preserved for us in both Germanic and Romance, because the leaders of each army had to say them in the others' language. So by that time, at the latest, Vulgar Latin had developed into Romance (proto-French) and west Frankish nobles were no longer speaking Frankish.

    How much earlier the transition had happened is debatable - all of are sources are written in Latin and don't do a very good job of indicating changes in the vernacular. In Gregory of Tours, writing a little before 600, it still seems like Franks and Romans in the Frankish kingdom are ethnically (and probably linguistically) distinct. According to the Life of Charlemagne, written around 825, Charlemagne (ruled 768-814) wanted to rename the months of the year and the "winds" (points of the compass) in "his people's" language, which is clearly Germanic ("Ostarmanoth" etc.), but then he was more of an eastern (Austrasian) Frank and spent more time at Aachen and Ingelheim than at Paris or Rheims.

    There probably wasn't any one dramatic moment when it shifted, it's probably safe to say it happened gradually, and if you split the difference between Gregory and Strasbourg and say the shift tilted in the generations around 700 AD, you wouldn't be too far off.

  • 7 years ago

    Actually it seems more likely that French is more derived from Galic-Latin and Franish intermingling to form a new language some time in the Middle Ages, which would then intermingle with Norse and Oil (or the langues d'oil) to form Old French. Frankish vanished sometime between the mid 9th and 10th centuries because of this.

  • Thomas
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    This is a common confusion of the French "Franks"and the German "Franconians", both in German being called "Franken" like the Swiss currency "Schweizer Franken" or the French "Franc".

    "Frank"(like in "Frankfurt") in old German means "free".

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