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The French Language

Language History:

French stems from the colloquial form of Latin with influence from the ancient native language of the region known as Gaulish. In the 3rd century, new barbarian tribes settled in the area as Roman influence waned, and their languages, particularly that of the Franks, had a heavy influence on proto-French, which developed into Old French, which existed between the 9th and 14th centuries. As France coalesced into a distinct political state beginning in the 14th century, Middle French arose as a distinct descendant of Old French and the official state language, gaining formal recognition in 1539. By this time French had taken on the form of Modern French, although some development continued.

Number of people speaking French:

There are about 115 million native French speakers worldwide. Approximately 265 million people speak French either as a first or second language.


Metropolitan French (standard); Belgian French, Swiss French, Aostan French (Italy), Quebec French, Lebanese French.

Countries Spoken:

France, Canada (Québec), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Luxembourg, Belgium and Monaco.

Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Rwanda, Belgium, Guinea, Chad, Haiti, Burundi, Benin, Switzerland, Togo, Central African Republic, (nine others).

Facts about French:

French was the official language of England for 300 years, and is also currently the official language of the United Nations.