Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 440s

440: The Story of French by Nadeau and Barlow


440.9: Nadeau, Jean-Benoit and Julie Barlow. The Story of French. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006. 450 p. ISBN 0-312-34183-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Languages
  • 440: French and Romance languages
  • 440.9: General history of French and Romance languages

Currently, French is in the top twenty spoken languages in the world. In the Middle Ages, it was the gateway to the aristocratic lifestyle and the lingua franca of the Western world. While it has been eschewed to the milieu of wine drinkers, film buffs, and expatriates, French is still as dynamic and contentious as it has ever been. There is even a group of people—the Academie Francaise—that presides over the language and sets the guidelines on new words and phrases that enter. Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, in The Story of French, try to do what many other linguists have done before them: make the early history and morphology of a language interesting and relevant to modern readers.

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445: Grammaire Francaise by Mary Stone Bruce

445: Bruce, Mary Stone. Grammaire française a l’usage des élèves de l’enseignement secondaire [French grammar for high school students]. Boston: D.C. Heath & Co., 1904. 290 pp.

Dewey Construction:

  • 400: Language
  • 440: Romance languages: French
  • 445: Grammar and syntax of standard French

Imagine being a high school student of the French language in the early part of the 20th century. While not directly conscious of it, America was in the throes of the Roaring Twenties (ironically referred to by the French as the “Crazy Years”). This was the age of the flapper, Art Deco, and Felix the Cat. But, for Harold and Helen McKinley of 69 Bartley Avenue (city unknown), it was simply the age of French class and, as we will see, a lot of doodling.

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