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French: The language of love

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10 facts about the French language

01

Like Spanish and Italian, French is a Romance language; it also uses many Latin words.

02

Due to historical invasions, French has contributed 45% of words and phrases to Modern English.

03

French is spoken by approximately 300 million people around the world; it is the 6th most spoken language in the world.

04

French has a large number of homophones, making certain sentences sound like tongue twisters.

05

French uses the same word for “hello” and “goodbye”: Salut!

06

French is the official language of many diplomatic organizations, including the United Nations and the Red Cross.

07

The French language contains over a million words; over 20,000 new words are added every year.

08

French is the official language of 29 countries and is officially used and taught in 84 countries.

09

The second largest French-speaking city in the world is Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

10

The world’s population of French speakers is widespread. For example, 50% of Algerians and 11 million Americans are French speakers.

France

Origin of the language

French emerged in the Northern Gaul region.

France

History of the language

It is thought that French originated during the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.

France

Learning the language

It is estimated that an English speaker will need 600 hours to learn French.

French language diversity

French is the official language in France as well as 28 other countries.

Some very significant dialects include Swiss French (CH), Canadian French (CA) and Belgian French (BE). Additionally, there are numerous varieties of French. In France, for example, speakers in the bigger cities of France speak Metropolitan French while speakers in some regions communicate in regional dialects such as Meridional French.

Apart from the well-known French dialects such as Swiss French and Belgian French, there is also Aostan French in Italy. Two primary types of French in Canada are Quebec and Acadian French. In Cambodia, Cambodian French is spoken while Laos French is spoken in Laos.

In Lebanon, Lebanese French is spoken because French was the country’s official language until 1941. French is both officially and unofficially spoken in the Maghreb countries of Africa (Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia), as well as in other countries all over the African continent. French is also spoken in some parts of India that were previously colonized by the French.

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Did you know?

Africa has 115 million French speakers, making it the largest continent with French speakers.

While meuf (girl) is considered normal in Parisian, it is considered quite offensive in Quebec French where the term la fille is preferred.

Canadian French uses more anglicisms (borrowed English words) than other French dialects.

French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world; French speakers are found on 5 continents.

Quebec French borrows terms from the English language; blonde refers to girlfriend while chum refers to boyfriend.

Creole-French, which originated from 17th century French, is considered the most difficult French dialect to understand.

French language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in French:

Hello: Bonjour
Goodbye: Au revoir
Yes: oui
No: non
Thank you: merci
Beautiful: belle
Girl: fille
Boy: garcon
Family: famile
Language: langue

Quotes

Language is a very difficult thing to put into words.

Voltaire

Writer, historian and philosopher

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Philosopher, composer and writer

One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius.

Simone de Beauvoir

Philosopher, social critic and political activist

Fun facts about the French language

The longest word

The longest word in the French dictionary is anticonstitutionnellement, which means “unconstitutionally.”

Town of Y

The town with the shortest name in France is the town of Y; it’s located in Somme, Northern France.

French Revolution

At the time of the French Revolution, 75% of the population of France did not speak the French language.

No letter “w”

The French language does not have any wholly French words that contain the letter “w.”

The letter “e” is everywhere!

The letter “e” is the most commonly used letter in French. You cannot form a complete sentence without using it.

Counting in French is different

Counting in French follows different rules; in French, the literal translation for 99 is “four twenties, ten, nine.”

Fairy tale language

Many of the world’s most famous fairy tales were originally written in French, such as “Beauty and the Beast.”

Town with the longest name

The town with the longest name in France is the Marne town of Saint-Remy-en-Bouzemont-Saint-Genest-et-Isson.

Plural of eye

The plural for oeil (eye) is yeux; this is the only plural form of a word that begins with a different letter than the singular form.

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