Coherence-Making Strategies in the Renaut de Montauban Tradition

From French Verse to English Prose


  • Carlotta Posth University of Würzburg, Germany
  • Sonia García de Alba Lobeira University of Freiburg, Germany



chanson de geste, prose romance, narrative coherence, Middle English, Old French


In the transition from the late Middle Ages to the early modern period, the vernacular prose romance became popular throughout Europe. This new genre brought about the functional expansion of vernacular languages into the realm of prose, which had previously been primarily the preserve of Latin. This paper discusses coherence-making strategies in prose romances from a diachronic perspective. In a case study of the Renaut de Montauban, also called The Four Sons of Aymon, we explore a number of linguistic devices used to convey narrative coherence in the chanson de geste tradition and what happens to these patterns when the matter is transposed from verse into prose and across languages, from French into English. We focus on copula constructions with initial intensifiers, the discourse markers lors, adonc, or and si (and their English counterparts), as well as the narrative formula commonly referred to as entrelacement or interlacement. By combining linguistic observations with a narratological framework borrowed from literary analysis, we aim to shed light on further research possibilities into the realm of comparative medieval literature which considers new generic (prose), material (print), and linguistic (French-English) contexts. Our results show that the change in form from verse to prose causes word order patterns with sentence-initial intensifiers to decline in favour of a general preference for discourse markers. These became the preferred way of establishing coherence in long prose texts. Their varied use in French and the English translation of the Renaut show a definite awareness of the significance of this resource for plot progression and the management of shifts between narrative levels. Furthermore, the combination of discourse markers with other narrative formulae, like interlacement, and typographical features underscore the deliberate use of these linguistic features as coherence-making elements in the prose Renaut tradition.


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27. 12. 2023

How to Cite

Posth, C., & García de Alba Lobeira, S. (2023). Coherence-Making Strategies in the Renaut de Montauban Tradition: From French Verse to English Prose. Linguistica, 63(1-2), 89-121.