Splendide! March 20th is French Language Day. This fascinating and beautiful old-world language has long held a reputation as one of the most attractive languages on the planet. In fact, it’s not for nothing that they call it “the language of love.” So, to give some love to our French friends, here are 8 fun facts about the French language. What are you waiting for? Lire plus bas!
8 FACTS ABOUT THE FRENCH LANGUAGE
1: 274 MILLION PEOPLE SPEAK FRENCH
There’s no denying that French is a very commonly spoken language. While there aren’t quite as many French speakers in the world as Chinese, English, or Spanish speakers, French is still a very popular language. Experts estimate that a total of 274 million people around the world can speak French, either as a first or second language. Out of that number, 212 million use it daily, and roughly 1 in 5 people speak French as a second language. However, you might be surprised to learn that…
2: THE MOST FRENCH SPEAKERS IN THE WORLD AREN’T ACTUALLY IN FRANCE
They’re in Africa. The African continent is home to roughly 120 million French speakers. French is actually the official language of 29 African countries, including Niger, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burundi, and Mali. In most African countries, French is usually spoken alongside indigenous languages.
3: FRENCH IS THE 6TH-MOST-COMMON LANGUAGE ON THE INTERNET
If you’re running an online business, make sure to write this down. In 2016, 102,171,481 Internet users were French speakers. And that number is only expected to grow as more parts of Africa come online. Despite the number of users, however, a surprisingly small percentage of web content (only about 4%) is available in French. So, if you’re looking to get the upper hand against your competitors, make sure your website features high-quality French content. You might just stumble on a whole new customer base!
4: FRENCH IS THE ROOT OF ROUGHLY 1/3 OF ENGLISH VOCABULARY
English takes a lot from other languages. In fact, there’s a famous quote by James Nicoll that goes: “We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” And one of the languages that English borrows (or steals) from the most is French. Some sources even claim that up to 45% of English words have French origins. Here are some French-origin English words:
…and many, many more.
5: FRENCH IS ONE OF THE EASIEST LANGUAGES TO LEARN FOR ENGLISH SPEAKERS
It comes right after Spanish, which has slightly simpler grammar. Given the similarities between so many French and English words, it’s actually not hard to see why it could be an easy language for English speakers to grasp.
6: THERE ARE 80 MILLION NATIVE FRENCH SPEAKERS IN THE WORLD
Of these, 60 million live in France, naturally. However, there are many French-speaking communities all around the globe, including in Switzerland, Canada, Monaco, and of course, Africa.
7: FRENCH IS SPOKEN ON 5 DIFFERENT CONTINENTS
The only other language that’s also spoken on 5 continents is, you guessed it, English.
8: FRENCH IS A FAST-GROWING LANGUAGE
While French may not be as commonly spoken as other languages, it is growing extremely quickly. Statistics suggest that by 2025, there’ll be 500 million French speakers around the globe. There are more French speakers every year, and that trend is expected to stay strong. The France Diplomatie website also believes that, due to France’s high birth rate, French will become “the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe,” ousting German by 2025.