French (le français or la langue française ) is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the province of Quebec, many African countries, and the Acadia region in Canada, the north of the U.S. state of Maine, the Acadiana region of the U.S. state of Louisiana, and by various communities elsewhere. Other speakers of French, who often speak it as a second language, are distributed throughout many parts of the world, the largest numbers of whom reside in Francophone Africa. In Africa, French is most commonly spoken in Gabon (where 80% report fluency) Mauritius (78%), Algeria (75%), Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire (70%). French is estimated as having 110 million native speakers and 190 million more second language speakers.
French is a descendant of the spoken Latin language of the Roman Empire, as are languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish; Romanian, Lombard, Catalan, Sicilian and Sardinian. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and Belgium, which French has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Roman Gaul, 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.
It is an official language in 29 countries, most of which form la francophonie (in French), the community of French-speaking countries. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations. According to the European Union, 129 million, or twenty-six percent of the Union's total population, can speak French, of whom 72 million are native speakers (65 million in France, 4.5 million in Belgium, plus 2.5 million in Switzerland, which is not part of the EU) and 69 million are second-language or foreign language speakers, thus making French the third language in the European Union that people state they are most able to speak, after English and German. Twenty percent of non-Francophone Europeans know how to speak French, totaling roughly 145.6 million people in Europe alone. As a result of extensive colonial ambitions of France and Belgium (at that time governed by a French-speaking elite), between the 17th and 20th centuries, French was introduced to the Americas, Africa, Polynesia, the Levant, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.
According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence universitaire de la francophonie, French speakers will number approximately 500 million people in 2025 and 650 million people, or approximately 7% of the world's population by 2050.
Famous quotes related to french language:
“But as some silly young men returning from France affect a broken English, to be thought perfect in the French language; so his Lordship, I think, to seem a perfect understander of the unintelligible language of the Schoolmen, pretends an ignorance of his mother-tongue. He talks here of command and counsel as if he were no Englishman, nor knew any difference between their significations.”
—Thomas Hobbes (15791688)