Conservative estimates place the number of native French speakers worldwide at around 130 million people. Not only is French obviously the official language of France and one of the six official languages of the United Nations, but it is also the official language of Haiti and Luxembourg and over fifteen African countries, as well as being one of the official languages of Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland. It is also considered an unofficial second language in countries like Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.
The French language extant today has come about as the result of a lengthy and complicated evolution. Various different ethnic groups invaded ancient France, the Greeks, Romans, Celts, Franks and other Germanic tribes, as well as Arabs, and each one of them brought their own linguistic structures to the common tongue. One such group, the Germanic tribe called the Franks, gradually became the dominant people, and the word France is actually derived from their name. The Franks made use of the form of Latin spoken throughout the country at that time, but over time it became fused with their own language.
Contemporary French-speakers would not be able to understand the French language as it was spoken prior to the 12th century. The Latin words and grammatical structures evolved over the years in accordance with the requirements of the developing language and culture. For example, the Latin for "farmer" was agricola, and in French the word is now agriculteur, while the Latin for "(they) are" was sunt, and the French is sont.
French has contributed many words and phrases to the English language. For example, hors d'oeuvre, en route, rendezvous, and R.S.V.P. all come from French.
Take a French cultural awareness class with Conversation Piece and get a head-start not only the cultural context of the French language, but also the society too. Learning a new language is not just about learning words and structures. We will introduce you to the wider context and help you avoid the common pitfalls.
Interested? Contact us and complete one of our needs assessment forms today!