27 Apr 2006 - 29 Apr 2006 All day CRASSH and New Hall


CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge and

New Hall, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge

This workshop for the international participants in the project “Observations and remarks on the French language” will examine the extent to which it is possible broadly to translate the linguistic terminology used in the volumes of seventeenth century observations and remarks on the French language into modern terminology and recent linguistic theories. The opacity of the grammatical terminology – coupled with the unsystematic presentation of the works – has discouraged those working on modern French language from consulting these works for information about past usage. Work will focus on building up indexes of all the terminology used in the different volumes of 'observations' and considering how its usage relates to modern practice as well as to its original socio-cultural context.

Please direct enquiries to Professor Wendy Bennett
Observations and remarks on the French language

This AHRC-funded international project asks important questions about the genre of observations and remarks on the French language, a uniquely French type of metalinguistic work which appeared for the first time in the middle of the seventeenth century. These works differ from conventional grammars in a number of significant respects. For example, they are intended not for foreigners but for competent native speakers who wish to perfect their usage of French, and they typically comprise short, randomly ordered observations on doubtful usage rather than being organised according to the traditional part of speech model. The first, and most important, text is Claude Favre de Vaugelas's Remarques sur la langue françoise (1647) which quickly became the authoritative work on good usage in seventeenth-century France. Subsequent volumes of observations adopt and adapt Vaugelas's format, commenting on his pronouncements. The project will address key questions about how to define and delimit the genre. It will consider its origins, nature and evolution and the ways in which it reflects, meets the needs of, and indeed shapes, its socio-cultural context.


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk