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Le Relatif-interrogatif en ancien francais.

Pierre Kunstmann's book is a study of the form and syntax of Old French relative and interrogative pronouns, and of the indefinite pronouns qui, que, used in isolation or combined with some other element. The Old French period is defined as dating from the emergence of a vernacular literature (in practice the Sequence of St Eulalia) to the end of the thirteenth century, so that the volume, the only exhaustive survey of the area available, forms the missing link in the chain stretching from Vaananen's brief study of the antecedents of qui/que in the pre-literary period to U. Jokinen's book-length survey of relative-pronoun usage in Middle French.

In so far as a chronological spectrum of some 400 years will allow it, Kunstmann's survey is firmly synchronic in its perspective, although a useful apercu historique towards the end of the volume pulls together the various strands in the preceding chapters, highlighting developmental trends throughout the period in question and forward into early Modern French. To those weaned on Foulet's Petite Syntaxe or Menard's Syntaxe de l'ancien francais much of the material will come as no surprise. However, Kunstmann's catalogue is a clear improvement on the works of his predecessors in at least two important respects. In the first place, the corpus of texts used is more wide-ranging, in terms of size and genre, and it is particularly pleasing to find the author drawing on the Documents linguistiques de la France as published under the direction of Jacques Monfrin. Secondly, the chapters on dislocation in interrogative structures, on relatives used without antecedents and on what Kunstmann terms relatives phrasoides (the equivalent of the modern French type Ceux que le malheur des autres les amuse), address themselves to issues receiving scant treatment elsewhere.

Only occasionally will the reader feel inclined to correct Kunstmann on points of detail or to add to his impressive catalogue: a reading of all the manuscripts of the Cliges suggests that line 938 of that text should be printed |Que m'aprandra Amors? Et quoi!', a usage of the interrogative pronoun not catered for by the author in his survey of exclamatory structures; quel dure (p. 63) is clearly queldure |which of these, the interrogative equivalent of nuldore |neither' (see the Walloon translation of St Bernard's Sermones in Cantica, Nantes, Musee Dobree, MS V, f. [156..sup.ra]: |Ne mie, fait ele, ma sapience, ne mie ma seniorie, car je n'avoi nuldore ...)', and could have received separate treatment; the use of the interrogative quel with the value |why' (see |Quel iriums nos loinz querant?' in the Walloon Psalter commentary for Laurette d'Alsace) could have been recorded, as could the morphological variants parent/parens of the interrogative/relative par unt(see pp. 56 and 192). But these are minor adjustments to a carefully researched volume which French mediaevalists will consult to their profit.
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Author:Gregory, Stewart
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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