The French Language

The French language is a Romance language that evolved from Gallo-Romance (the spoken Latin in Northern Gaul). Its closest relatives are the languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium. French has also seen some influence by the Celtic languages of Roman Gaul and by the Frankish languages of the Germanic tribes.

French is an official language in 29 countries of which the highest speakers are found in France, the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, the regions of Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, western Switzerland, Monaco, certain other regions of Canada and the United States (Louisiana and the northern parts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont).

French is the fourth-most widely understood language and the second most taught foreign language in the European Union. From the 16th century onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

French has a long history as an international language of literature and scientific standards and is a primary or second language of many international organisations. In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked French the third most useful language for business, after English and Standard Mandarin Chinese.

      

Sample text in French

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits. Ils sont doués de raison et de conscience et doivent agir les uns envers les autres dans un esprit de fraternité.


Recording by Jean-Marie Cletz from France

Translation

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Listen to it in Canadian French

 

Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits. Ils sont doués de raison et de conscience et doivent agir les uns envers les autres dans un esprit de fraternité.


Recording by Xavier G. from Canada