- French is spoken in TWO of the G7
- French is one of the official languages of the United Nations.
- Paris hosts the most international congresses in the world.
- France has the world’s greatest number of Nobel Prize winners
in literature. (12)
- France is the world’s major tourist destination.(77 million
visited France in 2002).
- Paris is considered the capital of the world in terms of
quality of life.
- France is with Germany the main pillar in the European Union.
- France is Europe’s foremost investor abroad.
- France ranks 4th in terms of world power and it does
not have the debt problems facing many other major industrialized
nations. (A positive sign for joint projects, business and
- France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have the lowest
rates of inflation in the European Union. This is an indicator of
the health of these countries.
- France is renowned for the quality of its high-tech.
- French is a major language of high-tech and business in the
- Over 20,000 English words have their origin in French.
- In terms of number of words, French is the largest language
- France offers a range of generous scholarships to U.S. graduate
- French is the most widely taught second language after English.
- French is the official language of the International Red Cross.
- French is the official language of post offices across the
- French is one of the two official languages at the Olympic
- French-speaking Africa represents an area larger than the
- Montréal is the second largest French-Speaking city in the
- Le Courrier Australien, founded in 1892, is the oldest ethnic
newspaper in Australia.
- Megabucks for trade: In 2000 the United States did
business/trade with the following countries in order of
importance: 1. French-speaking countries; 2. Japan; 3. Spanish
- A good knowledge of French enables you to fully enjoy at the
movie theaters or on TV, the best films from the French-speaking
- You can do so many more interesting things on the internet if
you speak French. There are many high quality internet sites
available in French ranging from society to science, fashion to
finance, music to medicine …just to mention a few.
- For those with the appropriate skills there are also
possibilities for employment (building a career rather than
keeping a job) in the following fields: International business
(what other kind of business is there in a global economy?),
International agencies, the tourism and hospitality industries,
the diplomatic service, French and /or French-speaking research
institutes, teaching, translating or interpreting.
French Language &
French, as it is spoken today by a vast Francophone
population, began to become standardized with Charlemagne's
conquest of the Gauls and Franks in the 16th Century. The history
of the modern French language in France emerged with the
combination of Latin and Provençal. Keep reading to learn more.
French is used as the official language of 22 countries and
is the co-official language of many several others, including
Belgium, Canada, Haiti, Madagascar, and Switzerland. It is spoken
as a first language by 60 million people in France and Corsica; in
Canada by 7.2 million; in Belgium by 3.3 million; in Switzerland
by 1.2 million; in Monaco by 17,000; in Italy by 100,000;
and in the United States by nearly 2 million. In sub-Saharan
Africa, some 5 million people (in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon,
Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti,
Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, and Zaire)
use French as their principal international language, as do
additional millions in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia). In
addition, French continues to be spoken as a second language by
many people in countries located along the southern and
eastern rim of the Mediterranean that were once French colonies or
territories (notably Algeria. Morocco, and Lebanon).
History of French language
Modern French belongs to the group of "Romance"
languages. Descended from Latin, these languages may be said to
represent living shadows of the ancient Roman empire, reflecting
the divergent histories of regions formerly unified under Roman
The source of modern French (and of the other Romance
languages) was a spoken, popular version of the Latin tongue that
was spread abroad by conquering Roman legions – namely, in the
case of French, to so-called "Transalpine Gaul" by the
armies of Julius Caesar during the century that preceded the birth
The invasion of Gaul in the 400’s AD by Germanic tribes
(including the "Franks") fleeing nomadic attackers from
central Asia resulted in a loss of military control by Rome and
led to the establishment in of a new, Frankish ruling class whose
mother tongue was, of course, not Latin.
Their adaptation to the speaking of popular Latin by the
indigenous population tended to impose, by authoritative example,
a pronunciation that retained a marked Germanic flavor – notably
in the vowel sounds that can still be heard in the French of the
present day (the modern French "u" and "eu",
for instance, remain very close to the modern German
"ü" and "ö"– sounds unknown to any other
modern language descended from Latin).
The grammar of the spoken, popular Latin language from which
French descended was simpler than that of the Latin known from
classical Latin literature. The emergence, over time, of a
specifically "French" language from spoken Latin,
however, carried the simplification much further. Much of
what Latin communicated by inflectional modification of
words was now communicated by separate words or phrases, and
especially by word order (which in Latin had been extremely
flexible because logical relations between words could be detected
from word endings alone, regardless of word order).
The changes in grammar gradually made it harder and harder for
speakers of the current language to understand the Latin language
still used in Christian religious services and in legal documents.
As a result, a written codification of the evolving spoken
language was found necessary for current legal and political use.
The earliest written documents in a distinctly "French"
("Francien", from "Frankish") language are the
so-called "Oaths of Strasbourg", sworn by two of
Charlemagne’s grandsons in 842 AD
This "French" language was in fact one of a number of
different languages descended from Latin that were spoken in
various parts of post-Roman Gaul. Others included notably the
"Provençal" language (or "langue d’oc"),
spoken in much of the southern half of what is today metropolitan
France. However the so-called "French" language gained a
special status resulting from its association with the dominant
feudal military power – namely the court of Charlemagne and his
successors – whose territorial reach and effective control of
French life grew over time.
The return of the French court to Paris – after its move to
Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) under Charlemagne -- and the ultimate
success of its armies against the Anglo-Norman occupiers of major
parts of northern and southwestern France, led to a territorial
consolidation that guaranteed the future position of
"French" as the official language of a centralized
monarchy (later nation-state). French was so established by the
Edict of Villers-Cotterêts in the year 1539.
The poetic fertility of medieval Provençal, meanwhile, which
had far surpassed that of French, in the so-called
"Troubadour" period, now gave way to the literary
productivity of the language of the central court and central
institutions of justice and learning – the language of Paris and
the surrounding Ile-de-France region.
The grammar of the French language spoken and written today is
in its essentials unchanged from the late 17th century, when
official efforts to standardize, stabilize, and clarify French
grammatical usage were institutionalized in the French Academy.
The purpose of this standardization was political: to facilitate
the extension of the court’s influence and to smooth the
processes of law, administration, and commerce throughout and even
beyond the territory of France, as colonial ventures (as far away
as India and Louisiana) opened new theaters of imperial growth.
Even today, after the decline of French imperial influence,
post-World War II, French remains the second language of a vast
"Francophone" population extending far beyond France’s
remaining overseas territories and dependencies (French Guiana,
Martinique, Guadeloupe, St.-Pierre and Miquelon, New Caledonia,
Vanuatu, Tahiti, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Réunion Island).