La langue de Rabelais  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

La Langue de Rabelais (1920-1923, "Rabelais' Language") is a work by Lazăr Şăineanu on the language used by François Rabelais in his work Gargantua and Pantagruel and its influence on French literature and language.

Called "remarkable and abundantly documented" by Russian semiotician Mikhail Bakhtin, La Langue de Rabelais outlines the use, context and origin of some 3,770 individual words in Rabelaisian vocabulary. It was especially noted for its details on various contributions to Rabelais' means of expression, including staples of French folklore such as the so-called Cris de Paris (chants traditionally produced by Parisian street vendors). Some of his other contributions to the study of Rabelais' work, as described by Bakhtin, include the inventory of culinary metaphors found throughout Gargantua and Pantagruel, and evidence that Rabelais had an unmitigated familiarity with the maritime trade La Langue de Rabelais also offered clues into 16th-century views of homosexuality, discussing the origin of archaisms such as bardachiser ("to sodomize") or the link between Rabelais' maritime terminology and medieval reactions to homoeroticism.


Rabelais' use of French was astoundingly original, lively, and creative. He introduced dozens of Greek, Latin, and Italian loan-words and direct translations of Greek and Latin compound words and idioms into French. He also used many dialectal forms and invented new words and metaphors, some of which have become part of the standard language and are still used today. Rabelais is arguably one of the authors who has enriched the French language in the most significant way.

His works are also known for being filled with sexual double-entendres, dirty jokes and bawdy songs.

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