French is one of the main languages of international communication. At the same time, if English was traditionally the language of the masses, French was always considered a privilege of the elite. Actually, French is worthy to study no less than English. It is also considered the language of art and culture, remaining the most popular language in secular society. Let’s consider several important
Facts about the French Language
More than 300 million people speak French all over the world. It is understood in 56 countries, and it is an official language in 32 countries. Due to its high prevalence, this language is the second language after English, which is studied as a foreign language. The French language, which is based on Latin roots along with Spanish and Italian, is relatively easy to learn and lexically at 80% coincides with Italian. For a fairly advanced level of French, it is enough about 700 hours of daily training. You can learn the French here: at preply.com.
French is the official language not only in France but is also spoken in Monaco, Luxembourg, parts of Belgium and Switzerland, northern and central Africa, Madagascar, the Canadian province of Quebec and many other countries and even islands. Many of them are former French colonies.
The French version, spoken in the province of Quebec, is so different from the official French that the French cannot always understand it. A part of the population of the American state of Louisiana speaks French and forms a special Cajun ethnic group. The Cajun variant of French is also quite different from common French.
In consequence of the victory of the Normans and William the Conqueror over England in 1066, French remained the official language in England for as long as about 300 years. More than 50% of the English words are of French origin. In 1362, The Pleading in English Act was adopted. It was an official document obliging the British Parliament to conduct proceedings only in English. It’s amazing that this Act was written also in French. Even despite it, English officials continued to use exclusively French until 1423. The motto of the Great Britain monarchy, written on the coat of arms is also in French – “Dieu et Mon Droit” (“God and My Right“).
From the 17th century until the middle of the 20th century, French was the most important language of diplomacy and international relations. The ability to speak French is still considered prestigious among diplomats. But during the Great French Revolution in 1789, 75% of the population did not speak French as their native language. Each region of France had its own language or dialect.
Modern French was finally established in the 17th century by such thinkers and encyclopedists as Rousseau, Descartes, Cornel, Racine, Moliere, and others. The French Academy, which defines the rules of language, was founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu.
Actually, the purity of the French language, its grammar and vocabulary are monitored by the French Academy (Académie Française). In 1968, La Francophonie, an organization uniting French-speaking countries of the world, was created. Its main goal is to study and promote the French language. The criterion for joining this organization is not the simple use of French in a particular country, but the deep cultural ties with France that have developed over the decades.
Considering the most French words, it is possible to restore the original Latin words from which they came.
A feature of French spelling is the abundance of mute letters, digraphs, and trigraphs. This is due to the conservatism of orthography, which reflects in general way the medieval phonetics. Over the past centuries, a large number of sounds in real pronunciation are lost, and many combinations of sounds, especially diphthongs, have simplified or changed.
The letters D, T, P, Z, X, S, and E are usually not read at the end of words, including final combinations of consonants. The letter h is never pronounced. French vowels differ not only in openness /closeness, presence or absence of nasalization but also in longitude and shortness.
In the French language, the names of some numbers have a strange logic. So, the number 70 translates as sixty and ten, 80 presents as four times twenty, and 90 is four times twenty and ten.
The French word “Salut” can be used in both senses, for greeting and farewell.
Learn more: France Facts For Kids