Word of the Day – Weekend Edition
is a Romance language, belonging to the Indo-European family. It
descended from the spoken Latin language of the Roman Empire, as
did languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian,
Catalan and others. French has evolved from Gallo-Romance, the
spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its
closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages
historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium,
which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also
influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like
Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the
post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past
overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole
languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person
or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and
French is the official language in 29 countries, most of which are members of la francophonie, the community of French-speaking countries. It is spoken as a first language in France, southern Belgium, western Switzerland, Monaco, certain parts of Canada and the United States, and by various communities elsewhere. As of 2015, 40% of the francophone population (including L2 and partial speakers) is in Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Middle East, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia and Oceania.
French is the fourth most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union. 1/5 of non-Francophone Europeans speak French. As a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 17th and 18th century onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Most second-language speakers reside in Francophone Africa, in particular Gabon, Algeria, Mauritius, Senegal and Ivory Coast. In 2015, French was estimated to have 77 to 110 million native speakers, and 190 million secondary speakers. Approximately 270 million people are able to speak the language. According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence universitaire de la francophonie, total French speakers will number approximately 500 million people in 2025 and 650 million people by 2050. The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie estimates 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa.
French has a long history as an international language of commerce, diplomacy, literature, and scientific standards and is an official language of many international organisations including the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the WTO, the International Olympic Committee, and the ICRC. In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked French the third most useful language for business, after English and Mandarin Chinese.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "French Language".
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