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An Interconfessional Controversy and Its Impact on French Language Evolution

During the Counter-Reformation, religious differences were often expressed with impressive power of words, with slander, but also personal attacks, being common currency. Two texts penned in 1598 in Geneva shed light on the eloquence, vocabulary, and rhetoric employed by adversaries Theodore de Beze, Calvin’s successor, and Antoine de Saint-Michel d“Avully. In his book „Paroles bien rudes. Une controverse interconfessionnelle (1598) à la lumiere de la lexicographie“, published in November 2023 by GRIN Publishing, Volker Mecking examines the special significance of these two documents for historical lexicology.

In an exploration of religious discord during the Counter-Reformation, these two texts not only offer a detailed glimpse into the linguistic battleground of the time but also underscore the significance of a frequently overlooked genre in French pre-classical literature (1500-1650). The verbal sparring, marked by slander and personal attacks, provides a rich source for historical lexicography, boasting nearly 200 first instances referenced in the French etymological dictionary, alongside a plethora of lexical neologisms and rare regionalisms.

Key Findings Enriching Lexicography and Specialized Fields

The meticulously dissected texts reveal linguistic nuances and the emergence of expressions that have been largely overlooked by lexicographers. With almost 200 inaugural references contributing to the French etymological dictionary, the corpus emerges as an invaluable resource for historical lexicon enthusiasts. Moreover, the study uncovers a treasure trove of lexical innovations and rare regional terms, offering a unique perspective on the evolution of language during this tumultuous period.

For scholars and researchers, especially those specializing in the Franco-Romanic tradition, philology, and language history, Mecking presents in his book an exploration of language dynamics in the context of religious conflict. So, he contributes significantly to the interdisciplinary dialogue between linguists, historians, and theologians. The meticulous analysis of texts from 1598 opens a window into the past, revealing the power of words in shaping religious narratives and the enduring impact of linguistic battles on the evolution of the French language.

About the Author

Volker Mecking is a professor of French Language Studies at the Catholic University of Lyon and has already published several publications in Renaissance Medicine.

This book was published by GRIN Publishing in November 2023 (ISBN: 978-3-346-97318-4).

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