In a dictionary’s etymological information, what language does the abbreviation ‘MF’ stand for?

Expert Answers
mimerajver eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • The abbreviation MF stands for "Middle French."

These are some of the most important characteristics of MF:

  • The period it covered ranged from 1340 to 1611 approximately.
  • This form of French was a transition between Old French and the first recognizable forms of Modern French that appeared in the early 17th century.
  • In the MF period, French was adopted as France's official language, displacing other languages such as the Langue d'òc (spoken in the south of France and some adjacent regions of Italy and Spain), the Langue d'oil (spoken in the north of France -at that time Belgium- Switzerland, and islands in the English Channel), and Latin, the official language of education and administration among the elites. 

The most important contribution of Middle French to the evolution of the language in terms of grammar was that it did away with noun declension, that is to say, with the need to use special suffixes for nouns depending on case, i.e. function in the sentence. 

Until the change came about, French nouns were inflected (changed suffixes) for the Nominative (subject), Accusative (direct object), Dative (indirect object), Genitive (possessive case), and Vocative (indicating the person or thing being addressed.)

The resulting simplification coincided with the publication of the first French grammars and, most importantly, aided communication among the inhabitants of the kingdom, as we have seen that they spoke different languages in different areas.

It is necessary to bear in mind that the changes were gradual, and that over these three hundred years or so the old forms were still used together with Middle French until it finally prevailed.