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The French-speaking world

« Do you speak French? French is my mother tongue, I was born in Quebec, I am Canadian and I live in Belgium. » Chloé

French is not only the language of France

160 million people in 49 different countries speak French. In French they are known as francophonesmeaning “French-speaking”.

French is the mother tongue of 6 million Canadians in Quebec and of 70 million Europeans: in France, Belgium (where they are called “Wallons”, in English “Walloons”), Switzerland (“Suisses Romands”), Luxembourg, Monaco and Andorra.

French is the official language of 31 African countries. It is spoken fluently in the Maghreb (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco) and Lebanon. French is also spoken in other parts of the world such as the state of Louisiana, Haiti, the Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius...

French is one of the official languages of international organisations such as UNO, UNESCO, OECDE and the diplomatic language of the Vatican, the papal city in Rome.

French is also the official language of the Olympic Games in honourlogo francais langue olympique - MAEE of Pierre de Coubertin who created the modern  Olympics. 

The Universal Postal Union (with 169 member countries) communicates in French.

French people’s favourite Anglicisms

French, like all modern languages, borrows words and expressions from other countries. The French language has been enriched by some Anglicisms (words that were originally English): “square”, “paquebot” (from packet boat), “wagon”, “station”, “rail” and “tunnel”. Some words have kept not only the same spelling but also something like their original pronunciation: “week-end”, “baby-sitter”, “hold up”...

On the other hand, words of French origin, Gallicisms, have found their way into the English language: forêt - forest, tour - tower, mousserons - mushrooms, contrée - country. “Conter fleurette” became flirt. “Rendez-vous” and “menu” are the same in both languages.

Great Britain's motto The mottos of Belgium, the Netherlands en the United Kingdom are in French on their blazon.

Speaking French creates friendship links between countries who share that language. People who like France are called francophiles (same word in English and French).

The French prefer to call a computer "un ordinateur”, even though English is the usual language of computing. 

AZERTYUIOP or QWERTYUIOP? These are computer keyboards: the first is the top line of letters on the French keyboard, the second is the “universal” system we usually use in England.

ASAP - As soon as possible - can lead to creative variations of the acronym in French: Aujourd'hui Sans Attendre Plus.


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