Old Frankish

Old Frankish

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Old Frankish

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Not to be confused with Old French.

Old Frankish was the language of the Franks and it is classified as a West Germanic language. Once it was spoken in areas covering modern Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and adjacent parts of France and Germany.

The Franks were descended from Germanic tribes that settled parts of the Netherlands and western Germany during the early Iron Age. From the 4th century they are attested as moving from the Roman Empire into what is now the southern Netherlands and northern Belgium. In the 5th and 6th century they expanded their realm and conquered Roman Gaul completely as well as client states such as Bavaria and Thuringia. During that period, it had a major influence on the lexicon, pronounciation and grammar of the Romance language spoken in former Roman Gaul.

Between the 5th and 8th century, Old Frankish evolved into Old Dutch (Old Low Franconian), a language that remained spoken in the area that was originally held by Franks of the 4th century (e.g., what is now the southern Netherlands and northern Belgium), while in Picardy and Île-de-France it was surpassed by Old French as the dominant language.

Knowledge of Old Frankish is almost entirely reconstructed from Old Dutch and from etyma and loanwords from Old French. However, a notable exception is the Bergakker inscription found in 1996, which may be a direct attestation of Old Frankish.

Predecessor of Old Dutch

The impact of Old Frankish on modern French

It is estimated that French...
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