French Language

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French (français, French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃sɛ]) is a Romance language globally spoken by about 110 million[19] people as a first language (mother tongue), by 190 million as a second language, and by about another 200 million people as an acquired foreign language, with significant numbers of speakers in 57 countries.[3] Most native speakers of the language live in France, where the language originated. The rest live essentially in Canada (particularly Quebec, and to a lesser extent Ontario and New Brunswick), Belgium, (particularly Wallonia and Brussels), Switzerland, French-speaking Africa (31 countries, including Cameroon, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire), Luxembourg, Monaco, and certain parts of the U.S. states of Louisiana and Maine. Most second-language speakers of French live in Francophone Africa, arguably exceeding the number of native speakers.[20] The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the Francophone country with the largest population.

French is a descendant of the Latin language of the Roman Empire, as are national languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian and Catalan, and minority languages ranging from Occitan to Neapolitan and many more. Its closest relatives however are the other langues d'oïl and French-based creole languages. Its development was also influenced by the native Celtic languages of Roman Gaul and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders.

It is an official language in 28 countries, most of which form what is called, in French, La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations. According to the European Union, 129 million (26% of the 499,673,300) people in 27 member states speak French, of which 65 million (12%) are native speakers and 69 million (14%) claim to speak it either as a second language or as a foreign language, which makes it the third most spoken second language in the Union, after English (2nd rank) and German (1st rank). In addition, prior to the mid 20th century, French served as the pre-eminent language of diplomacy among European and colonial powers as well as a lingua franca among the educated classes of Europe.

As a result of France's extensive colonial ambitions between the 17th and 20th centuries, French was introduced to America, Africa, Polynesia, and the Caribbean.


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References


External Link

Wikipedia article on French Language

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