The Origins and Evolution of Journalistic French: From the First Periodical (1631) to the French Revolution (1789)

Mairi McLaughlin
French and Francophone Studies
UC Berkeley

This project is the first piece of research on the language of the early French press. The principal aim is to produce an account of the origins and evolution of journalistic French from 1631 to 1789. Our current understanding of the history of French is based almost exclusively on literary texts. The analysis will therefore provide new data that will dramatically affect how we interpret both the history of French and also current usage. By examining the linguistic evolution of the genre in its socio-historical context, it will also shed light on the complexity of the more general relationship between language, the media, literature and culture. The project will allow to make two major contributions to methodology: a new approach for the digital humanities, and considerable improvements to the way that linguists use the press to analyze contemporary usage across many different languages.