Loss of final -e in French words (writing)


Senior Member
German — Austria

The Middle French form of eau 'water' is eaue. According to fr.wiktionary, the final -e was dropped in the 13th century. Are there more examples of French feminine nouns going back to Latin feminine etyma with -a that don't show final -e in Modern French?

Thank you!
  • merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    It probably is an exception because of pronunciation. Eau is pronounced /o/, and this is a set rule, standardized as such in final stressed syllables: beau/peau/seau/veau/ plateau/ gateau/ chateau/ tonneau/ bureau/ chapeau/ trousseau etc etc etc There are many words of this type and they all form their plural with x: eaux included, though eau is the only feminine word in the group. Actually, there are no words ending in -eaue and I'm not sure how they would be pronounced if there were.
    Edit: peau is feminine too. From pellis/pellem, no -a,

    Most of these words developed from a final -l that was vocalized into -u and then combined with preceding vowels to make /o/.
    Eau from Aigua (from Aqua) ended up being pronounced /o/ too after the /g/ was dropped. The pressure to interpret all these stressed /o/ as -eau is what sets the word apart and can explain the lack of a silent -e.
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