Back to All Events

Histoire de la Langue française

  • Field Club Country Club 3615 Woolworth Ave Omaha, NE 68105 (map)

Histoire de la Langue française

The History of the French Language, presented by Thomas F. Coffey, Ph.D. 

Lecture will be in English (primarily) and French

The long and winding road to Modern French includes a substantial basis in Latin underpinned by a Celtic substratum and overlaid by a host of words from the Germanic dialects, Italian, English and many other languages. French is exceptional in having its main forebear, Latin, so well recorded. After almost 400 years of hidden development, it emerged, like the chick from the egg, in the Strasbourg Oaths; then in various religious works, saints’ lives, chansons de geste, historical works, fabliaux and courtly tales; and finally in one of the richest bodies of literature in the world: the language of Rabelais, Molière, LaFontaine, Voltaire, Hugo, Flaubert, Camus, Sartre, to name but a few. This development happened on an ironic linguistic principle: French is a collection of unique mistakes in Latin to which tacit agreement was given over time by the body of people using it. Every word, every structure has its story; many of them are known; many remain as puzzles yet to be solved. We will explore some of these stories and compare French to its Latin ancestor, to its sibling Romance languages, and to its cousins in the greater Indo-European language family.

1:00 pm — Arrive, register, mingle, & French conversation table open

1:45 pm — French petits fours desserts and coffee (wines available à la carte)

2:00 pm — Lecture and discussion

About the Presenter:

Dr. Coffey received a B.A. in French with Greek and Spanish as support languages, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Romance Philology with minors in German and French from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He taught French in Washington DC and English and French in Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany. He currently teaches French, German and Spanish at Creighton University. His research areas

include historical and comparative linguistics, language proficiency, medieval texts and paleography, and the transcription and editing of medieval texts though the application of linguistic principles. He has published a number of books and articles including critical editions and translations of medieval texts. He has presented papers on rhetoric, language proficiency and a variety of medieval topics. He has also been active in faculty governance, serving in a number of positions at Creighton, including fourteen years as President of the University Faculty; and at the state and national level in the American Association of University Professors.

Cost:     $15 members — $20 non-members — $10 students

Please register for this event in advance!  You may pay online or with cash or check at the door (no credit card payments accepted at door).  Cancellation deadline is October 5th, after which time you are responsible for the cost. 


Name *
Guest Name
Guest Name
Guest Name
Guest Name
Guest Name
Guest Name
Guest Name
Guest Name
Oct Event Fee
from 10.00
Membership Status:
Add To Cart

Online registration and payments are preferred, however you may register by email at or call 402-557-8158.


Earlier Event: September 11
Annual Reception de Bienvenue
Later Event: November 19
Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!