French, a Romance language, is widely regarded to be among the most beautiful languages in the world. A Romance language is a language that uses Latin — historically spoken by the ancient Romans — as its root. And while French shares the Romance descriptor with heavyweights like Italian and Spanish, it is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating Romance languages. Here are some of the most interesting facts about French.
French is spoken across the entire globe.
Second only to English, French is among the top languages for the number of countries where it has official status. It is also the only language, alongside English, that is taught in every country in the world. It boasts over 100 million students and 2 million teachers. In fact, the number of French speakers has tripled since 1945.
French is still a working language of the UN and the EU as well as numerous other international organizations including the International Labor Organization, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and the Red Cross.
France is a hugely popular tourist and cultural destination.
Out of all the countries in the world, France is the most visited, boasting over 75 million tourists every year. And their culture is far reaching: French films are produced at the second highest rate in the world, and in Canada, films from Quebec frequently outsell Hollywood blockbusters at the box office.
There are 630 French language universities in the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, with more than 350 facilities worldwide, totaling 120,000 teachers and researches.
French-speaking scientists and technicians are responsible for some of the biggest technological advancements the world has seen.
They are responsible for such inventions as the hot air balloon, cinema, Velcro, and smart cards, to name only a few. Furthermore, Areva, headquartered in Paris, is the world’s largest civil nuclear energy company.
French has a rich history.
Seventy five percent of French citizens did not speak French as a native tongue at the time of the French revolution. Until the 1800s, French was a language that was more widely spoken in Holland and Germany than it was in some parts of France.
In 1635, the French Academy was established, and it was the first organization ever to rule over a language. Since its inception, most of the world’s main languages have established such governing bodies.
French has widespread influence.
About a third of basic English words come from French, including words like view, challenge, pride, and war. And French has more than a million words, with 20,000 new ones created every year. English continues to borrow words from French and adapt them into its everyday lexicon. Words like déjà vu, cul-de-sac, and popular phrases like femme fatale or film noir.
French is used widely in the United States as well.
In the United States, French is the fourth most used language throughout the country. It is the second most taught, after Spanish.
New York, Florida, and California have joined Louisiana and New England as the main centers of French in the United States.
Half of the foreign films watched in the US are French language films, with 30% of foreign books being read in French. Over 1.5 million Americans are native French speakers, and another 6 to 11 million speak French fluently as a second language.
French and ballet go hand in hand.
Due to the fact that ballet was formalized in France, a significant part of ballet terminology is French. Rond de jambe, plié, and enjambé are all French words that describe various formal ballet poses.
And so do French and the culinary world.
France is known for its fine dining, as well as for its wine exports, and so it is no surprise that French words go along with it all: words like foie gras, brie, and sauvignon blanc are all very commonly used. But the influence of the French language goes beyond the restaurant and back into the kitchen as well. Chefs have taught themselves to master the French arts, including julienne, consomme, and even mayonnaise.
The reach, breadth, and popularity of the French language is undeniable. It is a language for poets and writers, for wine lovers and foodies. It is a language that is embraced by scholars, teachers, and students the world over, and it is spoken between world leaders in business, politics, and social justice. And on top of all that, it is one of the most beautiful, musical languages the world has ever known.
Whether you are looking to have a document translated from French into English, or if you are looking for an English to French translation, it is important to work with a qualified translator who is a native speaker of the target language.
Gender assignation, the use of accents, and contractions can all cause issues when translating a document into, or out of, French.
Lastly, knowing whether the target audience is in France, Canada, or another French-speaking locale is of the utmost importance, as different dialects use different idioms and phrases.