(Reposting here from 1729) Fantastic article! It's good that you cite David A. Bell: most French people don't know that 100 years ago, most "French" didn't speak French. The French language only started to spread among the lower classes with 1/ free mandatory education (Jules Ferry Laws, 1881 & 1882) and 2/ forced conscription during World War I + mixed combat units with soldiers from all over France (to avoid having soldiers only speaking their local language in a unit).

"as the majority of books were printed in this language, it spread throughout the country much faster and farther than the others.": I think this was only true among the minority of literate people. Even for them, it took time for French to displace Latin as the main literary language: "Even during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, students at the Sorbonne who were caught speaking French on university grounds—or in the surrounding Latin Quarter—were castigated and risked expulsion from the university. Indeed, the Sorbonne's famed Latin Quarter is believed to have earned its sobriquet precisely because it remained a sanctuary for the language long after the waning of Latin—and an ivory tower of sorts—where only Latin was tolerated as a spoken language. Even René Descartes (1596-1659), the father of Cartesian logic and French rationalism was driven to apologize for having dared use vernacular French—as opposed to his times' hallowed and learned Latin—when writing his famous treatise, Discours de la Méthode, close to a century after Du Bellay's Déffence." (source: https://www.meforum.org/3066/does-anyone-speak-arabic )

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