French

Language History

France once belonged in an ancient Western Europe region known as Gaul. The Gaulish (Celtic) language was soon replaced by Vulgar Latin when the region was conquered by Romans in the 2nd & 1st centuries BC. It was during the Germanic invasions in the 4th century AD when Vulgar Latin was infused with different Germanic dialects. The region, which then had a mixture of German settlers, mixed its Germanic, Celtic and Latin languages overtime to create what is known as the French language today.

French is the (or one of) official language of over 30 countries and it is spoken by more than 100 million people in the world. Français is spoken in 29 countries like France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada (Quebec), northern New England (Vermont), the state of Louisiana.

“French is the language of love.”

FACT

French is spoken as a mother language by 72,000,000 people and as a second language by another 52,000,000.

Did you Know?

French is the only language that is taught in every country in the world (other than English). That could equal to 100 million students and 2 million teachers worldwide!

English words have French origin – In fact, 30% of the English language is French!

• Information• Café
• Attention• Restaurant
• Communication• Adorable
• Menu• Visible
• Picnic• Comfortable

Words like “déjà vu” and “avant-garde” have even been adapted into everyday English lexicon.

Top 10 French-Speaking Countries outside France

Source: www.theatlas.com – as of 2018

French is a Romance Language

In literal terms, French is indeed a romantic language but theoretically, it is one of the most popular languages originating from Romans. Other Romance Languages include Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

Learning French

There are several variations and dialects of the French language. Parisian French is considered the ‘model’ when learning French as a second language.

French Dialects

Each dialect has a different accent and some have different vocabularies, too! Canadian French is apparently so different, that European French people sometimes struggle to understand them! For example, in Canadian French the word “plein(e)” means “full of food”, but in France, it means “pregnant”!
DialectAreas SpokenNumber of Speakers
Standard FrenchFrance50,000,000+
Canadian French/Quebec FrenchCanada6,000,000 +
African FrenchWestern Africa120,000,000+
Belgian FrenchBelgium4,000,000+

“French is spoken in five continents across the globe and it looks to be spreading even further. It’s in no danger of disappearing any time soon!”

English – French Cognates

English – French False CognatesEnglish – French True Cognates
• Coin – coin (corner)• Fruit – fruit
• Attend – attendre (to wait)• Chocolate – chocolat
• Journey – journée (day)• Example – exemple
• Jolly – joli(e) (pretty)• Pizza – pizza
• Grape – grappe (bunch)• Dentist – dentiste

Population vs. Internet Penetration

French Speakers:

405,644,599

Internet Users:

108,014,564

Penetration:

25.4%

As of March 2017. Source: Internet World Stats – www.internetworldstats.com

Did you Know?

The French language has over one million words – There are approximately 20,000 new ones created every year!

French Translation Tips

• Keep in mind that the letter ‘w’ only appears in foreign words within the language.

• Look out for false cognates – “attendre” doesn’t mean “attend”, it means “to wait”.

• Make sure you have full comprehension of the accents, genders, verb conjugation

and pronunciation of nasal sounds.

• Get used to linguistic rules such as replacing “ly” in English to “ement” in French.

• Avoid using general words like “très” or “choses”.

• Try not to use the passive voice unless it’s totally required – this is quite rare in the French language.

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