2

For reference here is the video.

The lyrics go as follow.

Il y a une meson en Orleans Qui se sousnomme le Soleil levant Et ele fu la ruine de maint garsilleurs Dont fui aussi partant….

Ma mere estoit une taillieuse Qui cousit mes braies de lin Mon pere lui estoit un joueur et D’Orleans un citadin

E les seules choses qu'un joueur requiert Sont une male et une botte E le seul moment de repos pour lui Est saül au fond d’un pot

O, mere, di le aus anfaz De ne pas feire com moi Pechiez tout au lonc de vos tristes vies La ou le Soleil feict loy

Bien, j'ai un pié sur le pavement L'autre est sur le char Sui de retorn a Orleans Ou l’air-mesme est une bare

I was wondering how acurate the language usage was?

  • if someone could help me with the formatting of the quote that would be swell. – Neil Meyer Aug 27 at 8:23
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    Ce n'est pas du vieux français, tout au plus une pseudo phonétique. – Toto Aug 27 at 8:42
  • I'm not enough of a specialist to judge how accurate it is, but you can find some very recognizable characestics: no 1st person pronoun with verbs, "estoit" for "était", "loy" for "loi" – Greg Aug 27 at 10:23
16

This is a bizarre attempt to translate a modern English song to "ancient French" (or better old French) and belongs to a new musical trend named bardcore.

The wording is relatively accurate although for example I doubt saül was written with a diaeresis. Saul was a way to write the modern saoul. Grammar is far too close to modern French.

The pronunciation sounds very odd.

While we obviously have no recordings about how ancient French was pronounced and it is true letters were seldom mute at that time, we have a lot of clues about the pronunciation (see http://lespascals.org/docs/MethodeAncienFrancais.pdf) and there is no reason for old French to sound like written French pronounced with a strong English accent... In particular, the stress which has in most cases stayed identical in French often sounds misplaced.

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    Other inconsistencies I've noticed: overuse of subject pronouns, especially the impersonal one in "il y a" (still mostly omitted even in modern French), a strong tendency to omit final schwas (except in "l'autre est" where it should have been elided) – Eau qui dort Aug 27 at 17:51
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    The pronunciation feels closer to Middle French than to Old French: No affricates, lowered nasal vowels, the diphthongs are in their late form (oi is /wɛ/ instead of /eɪ̯/ or /oɪ̯/, ui is /wi/ instead of /yɪ̯/, au is /ɔ/ instead of /aʊ̯/ or /ɔʊ̯/ or even /oː/, eu is /jœ/ instead of /eʊ̯/ and /ʊ̯e/), kw in qui is delabialised to /ki/. There's also a few things that are too modern, like the absence of nasal vowels in moment and sousnomme, the preposition sur instead of its parents sus and sor, and the schwa in "di le" (should be /ɛ/ – Eau qui dort Aug 27 at 18:03
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    Final consonant clusters as in garsillieurs, requiert or retorn aren't simplified, which is accurate for OF, but clashes with the rest of the pronunciation that's later than that. They also mistakenly pronounce the latinising mute consonant in feict – Eau qui dort Aug 27 at 18:06
  • I think "Old French" is the accepted term (vs. 'Ancient' French). French did not exist in ancient times. We can forgive OP, but the answer should be clear with terms. – J... Aug 28 at 11:44
  • @J... Indeed, ancient French is more like français antique, not ancien français. Corrected. – jlliagre Aug 28 at 14:36
8

To Jiliagre's answer, I'll add that these lyrics are completely ignoring how Old French (unlike Modern English or French) had a case system! There were two cases, and nouns in the subject case (Cas sujet) often looked like modern plurals: in un joueur requiert, that should be uns. Most Modern French words are derived from the oblique case (cas régime) forms of the nouns.

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  • Definitely. Not just the cases but also word ordering is anachronical. – jlliagre Aug 27 at 14:44
4

Definitely not old French. Appart from the old fashioned orthographe, you could definitely read it in 19th French littérature.

The singer (by the way, strong American / Canadian accent) simply pronounce last consonants sounds as old French putatively did (ongoing debates about this).

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0

The scientific analysis is in the other answers (especially regarding your question on the last line)

Now, about the title: if you want to know how much this text and song are understandable to a French, I did three passes (native French speaker, amateurishly interested in the Middle-Ages).

First, knowing the English contemporary song and therefore knowing what to expect I listened to it without watching, mentally transalting the lyrics from English to french, and comparing to what I hear.
Success rate: 1 out of 10 words matched

Then I listened while reading the text in French and again trying the translation part. This was a bit too much for me.
Success rate: 3 out of 10 words matched

Finally, I just read the text, loosely listening to the song.
Success rate: a general understanding of what is going on in the song, the words closely matching contemporary words were fine (including some conversions such as esê and similar). Specific words which ether have no meaning if contemporary French, or a different one were skipped.

Conclusion: if I was to speak with someone though that "language" I would have major issues to understand the basic meaning of what they want to convey. I would probably die.

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