The French Language in France and in the World

The official language of France is French, a Romance language derived from Latin. It is estimated that between 300 million and 500 million people worldwide can speak French, either as a mother tongue or a second language. Although French is by far the most widely spoken language in France, several regional languages and non-indigenous tongues are also spoken to varying degrees.

We used to call France a one-nation country, but actually the multiculturalism is spreading in all the provinces and the globalisation has threatened the purity of the French language. The perceived threat from anglicisation has prompted efforts to safeguard the position of the French language in France. In addition to mandating the use of French in the territory of the Republic, the French government tries to promote French in the European Union and globally through institutions such as La Francophonie. This policy dates back from the 17th century. At that point, up to the mid 20th century, French served as the pre-eminent international language of diplomacy and international affairs as well as a lingua franca among the educated classes of Europe. The dominant position of French language in international affairs has only been challenged recently by English, since the emergence of the USA as a major power.

As a result of France’s extensive colonial ambitions between the 17th and 20th centuries, French was introduced to America, Africa, Polynesia, South-East Asia, and the Caribbean. French is the second most studied foreign language in the world after English, and is a lingua franca in some regions, notably in Africa. The legacy of French as a living language outside Europe is mixed: it is nearly extinct in some former French colonies (Southeast Asia), while creoles, and pidgins based on French have emerged in the French departments in the West Indies and the South Pacific (French Polynesia). On the other hand, many former French colonies have adopted French as an official language, and the total number of French speakers is increasing, especially in Africa.

Besides French, there exist 77 vernacular minority languages of France, 8 in the French metropolitan territory of continental Europe and 69 in the French overseas territories.

Being one of the major world languages, French is so widely spoken that it is possible to answer your international call in French when you call Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.


September 30, 2011 | Author: | Posted in Cheap Calls

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