furche (c.1165)

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furche (c.1165)

[ FEW: 3,884b furca; Gdf: 4,68a forche 1; GdfC: 9,650b fourche; TL: 3,2072 forche; DEAF: ; DMF:  fourche; TLF:  fourche; OED:  fouch n. / fork n. / forche n.; MED:  fourche n. / forke n.; DMLBS: 1035a furca 1 /1036a furchia ]
furke;  forche,  fourche,  fourge,  fourke,  furc,  furca, 
pl. furchis,  forkis,  fourz,  furs,  fourges  20-21 Ed I 101  

Fourche in the architectural sense seems to be unique to Anglo-Norman: there is no trace of it in the other dictionaries of French, although FEW (3,886a) has a range of attestations under the gloss 'Stütze' ('support') which are not that far removed from it semantically: “afr. fourche ‘partie de l’armature d’une tente’; mfr. fourchel ‘poteau fourchu dont on se sert dans la vigne’; (occ.) fourquèlo ‘étai fourchu pour faire monter la vigne’”, etc.. There are cognates in both medieval British Latin and Middle English; in English, fork is one of three words (the others being cruck/crutch and sile) which can designate this piece of the structure of a timber-framed building. The oldest DMLBS quotation is from the 10th century (Harley Glossary: “furcas: columnas”). On the subject of cruck construction, see N.W. Alcock, Cruck construction. An introduction and catalogue (London, The Council for British Archaeology (Research Reports, no. 42), 1981). Despite what is there asserted (p. 36, n.10), there are no quotations illustrating fourche in France in Bernard Édeine, La Sologne. Contributions aux études d’ethnologie métropolitaine (Paris/Den Haag, Mouton, 1974) pp. 288-293, but only of paufourche (cf. Gdf 6,44c; FEW 3,886b sub fŭrca. It is possible that the absence of the word with this meaning in France is because this construction method was not deployed there; more likely, though, is that this is a case of incomplete evidence. There are cruck houses in France which date back to c. 1520 (Limousin): cf. Meirion-Jones in Alcock, op. cit., 1981, 42-48 (p. 42) and it seems a little improbable that the technique emerged only after the Middle Ages. Timber-framed construction with wooden posts set in the ground is a type of building which is unlikely to leave lasting archaeological remains and the absence of precise descriptions of building methods in contemporary documents is well known. Moreover, the existence of the compound paufourches in France seems to imply that the simplex form was known with this meaning.

The exact sense of the word in any language is however uncertain. DMLBS defines it as “3 crutch-post, forked timber used as support; alo cruck, pair of carved timbers, sts. [=sometimes] a forked tree w[ith] trunk split and joined at the branches, to form arch which supports roof”. The quotation from the Chanson de Guillaume (v.3412: “E totes les furches en ad acraventés”) is translated by Wathelet-Willem (ChGuillW) as “charpente entière a tout démolie”; McMillan does not comment on the word. The simpler “crutch-post” is however also possible (despite the plural?), especially given the apparently rudimentary nature of he dwelling which Rainouart demolishes (“vit un bordel ester”, i.e. a cottage or hut, cf. AND bordel). [DAT]


( c.1170; MS: s.xiiim )  Une furche de fer en sa mein si teneit  4964
( s.xiii; MS: s.xiv2/4 )  Qi furches aveyent en mayns et crokes de feer ardaunt  207
( MS: s.xiii2 )  hec merga: forche  i 379
( c.1275; MS: s.xiii4/4 )  De une mayn sa furke prent, De l'autre tynt sun estrument Ke fu de fer  8406
( MS: s.xiiiex )  furca: furca [sic] a fein  ii 56
implementdomesticfork (used at table)
( 1423 )  Item, .j. furche, d'argent dorrez, ovec .iij. colers d'argent  iv 218
implementdomesticpoker, prong
( s.xii3/4; MS: s.xiiim )  De forches de fer qu’il tenoient Cuntre le greil son corps premoient  858
( 1377-82 )  .v. fourchez de feer pur les chambres du roi  E101/547/21/7
( 1415; MS: s.xv1/4 )  cheyres, aundyres, fourches de fere pur le feu, basyns, ewers et chaufours  79.21
( 1415-17; MS: s.xv1 )  chaers, aundirez, furchez de fer pur le feu  (D) 23.325
( s.xiiex; MS: s.xiii2 )  L’ostel u seint George vint; Une furche le sustint  735
( s.xiii1/4; MS: s.xiiim )  Devant li garde, vit un bordel ester, Passad avant, si enracad les pels, E totes les furches en ad acraventés  3412
( s.xiii1 )  phalangas: furches  20
( MS: s.xiii ) palmites, antes et phalangas gloss: (L) furches (var. (D: s.xiii/xiv) forches;  (D*: s.xiii/xiv) furchez )  i 202..77 and ii 143.77
( 1417-18 )  pur .iiij. forkis de supporter le vyne - .iiij. d.  5 Hen. V
4geog.fork, branching of two or more roads, crossroads
( s.xiii1/3; MS: s.xiiim )  Cum il vint al furc de quatre chemins, U trepasser soleint les pelerins  9403
5bot.trees(of tree) forked branch, ramification
( c.1165; MS: s.xiii2 )  Un freisne vit, lé e branchu, E mut espés e bien ramu; En quatre furs esteit quarrez  49.169
6zool.mammalsanat.ven.(two-pronged) point of deer’s antlers
( s.xiv1/4; MS: s.xivm )  fourches (var. forche) de aumbedeus les partz de la teste  53
7fig.direction, source
( 1305 )  les dimes venent adventurousement par divers forches: de quei vi voilliez donqes la vewe avoir?  33-35 Ed I 5
8lawfourching by essoin
( c.1260; MS: c.1300 )  aprés chescun apparance fors en forches gist essoigne  28


( c.1170; MS: s.xiiiex )  Ne purra eschaper ne l’estoece murir, U par estre detrait u par furches perir  3887
( MS: s.xiii )  forcillas: (A) furches(var. (D: xiii/xiv) furchis sant fer; (L: xiiiex) restaus, forches sane fer; (O: xii/xiii) furches sant fer; (T: xii/xiii) hars)  ii 44
( 1280-1307; MS: s.xiv1 )  Prys est, menez a Loundres, traynez, penduz a fourz  423.2456
( s.xiiiex; MS: 1307-15 )  donc fustes vus tut erraument ausi tost jugiez pur estre ars e trainez, escorchiez e penduz sur les furches enfernaus ardanz  65.1
( MS: s.xiii/xiv ) calofurcium: (D*) fu[r]chez (var. (C: s.xiiiex) galewes;  (L: s.xiii) furche )  ii 144.81
( 1351-52 )  puis les font demorer pendantz es fourches longement aprés lour juggement plus ouelment q'ils ne font les gentz laies  ii 244
paires de furches
( 1309 )  il vint en un lieu et la veist .iij. peires de furches et chescun plus haut de autre  Ed II ii 117
furche a estreim
1agriculturalimplementpitchfork for hay
( MS: s.xiii )  pastinata, instrumentum bifurcum: (A) furche a estraim  ii 52
furche fimere
1agriculturalimplementfork for manure
( s.xivin; MS: 1382 )  Trobile, beche, furche fymere (M.E. mouke-forke)  518
( MS: s.xiv1 )  furca fumera: un furche fumere (M.E. a mok forke)  14
furche de fer, od fer
1implementagriculturalinstrument used to make holes in the ground for seeds or young plants
( MS: s.xii/xiii )  pastinacas: (O) furches od fer(var. (C: xiiiex) forche ferré; (D: xiii/xiv) furchis de fer; (L: xiiiex) furches de fere)  ii 44
furche sanz fer
1agriculturalimplement(wooden) pitchfork
( MS: s.xii/xiii )  forcillas: (O) furches sant fer(var. (D: xiii/xiv) furchis sant fer; (L: xiiiex) restaus, forches sane fer; (A: xiii) furches; (T: xii/xiii) hars)  ii 44
( MS: s.xiii/xiv )  forcilla: (D) furche santz fer  ii 54
furche ferré
1implementagriculturalinstrument used to make holes in the ground for seeds or young plants
( MS: s.xiiiex )  pastinacas: (C) forche ferré  ii 44
a furche e a flael
1iron.with fork and flail (ironic allusion to legal term for villein's services)
( 1174-75; MS: s.xiiex )  N’i aveit el païs ne vilain ne corbel N’alast Flamens destruire a furke e a fleel  1081
This is an AND2 Phase 2 (F-H) entry. © 2006-2008 The Anglo-Norman Dictionary. All rights reserved. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom.