This course has two parts, a synchronic part and a diachronic part, which are closely interconnected in different ways.
The focus of the course is the "study of meaning and meaning evolution" and in a subordinate way, the phonetic and morphological study of the evolution of forms through to ages.
This course is not an encyclopedic or theoretical course, but a course that will familiarize the students with the different phases of linguistic research for French: the selection of a theme, the precise formulation of the research question, the compilation of a corpus, bibliographic research, collecting and interpreting information from reference works (mainly dictionaries), reading and critically processing linguistic articles, interpreting language data, formulating and verifying hypotheses about the meaning of words on the basis of a corpus, in synchrony as well as in diachrony.
The emphasis of the course will therefore be on learning by yourselves to develop small-scale linguistic research; all sessions (theoretical, methodological and empirical) of the course will be in the light of this.
By the end of the semester, the students will present orally their own empirical research about the meaning and meaning evolution of a couple of words.
The part 'synchronous linguistics' deals with meaning (polysemy) and the differences in the meaning of word pairs (synonyms).
The part 'diachronic linguistics' comprises two aspects. On the one hand, text fragments from medieval French literature are read, explained and commented on. On the other hand, a number of aspects of the morphological, semantic and syntactic evolution of French are discussed, by means of text fragments from different language stages and the way in which French is formed from Latin is studied. In addition, corpus research is also done, in which various specific aspects of diachronic research are cited.