Culture

How the French language started

French is one of the most commonest languages spoken, after English. It is also known as a Romance language of Indo-European descent. Romance language is a modern language which evolved from Vulgar Latin between the 3rd and 8th centuries. At the beginning of the 21st century, French was an official language of more than 25 countries all over the world which include France, Switzerland, Belgium, parts of the United States, Central African Republic, Mali and Senegal. Many French words have been incorporated in the English language such as bon appetit (enjoy your meal).

Gaul was an ancient part of Europe from which countries such as France and northern Italy were later formed. The French language started due to the invasion of Germans in Gaul. The Old French (9th – 13th centuries) era was when different dialects were formed and the language was first written down in Strasbourg Oaths dating in 842 which is a romance version of oaths sworn by two of Charlemagne’s grandsons.

During the Middle French era (14th – 15th centuries), there were many Old French dialects but the most popular one was the Francien dialect from which the modern French emerged. It was during this period when the language was worked upon by making standards for grammar and vocabulary. During this time, Robert Estienne published the first Latin-French dictionary, which contained information about phonetics, etymology and grammar. Latin was being replaced by French within Europe.

French language had the privelege of being used as an international language until the middle of the 20th century when English language became popular due to the global power of the United States after WWII.

However, this had not reduced the use of the language. French is among the six official languages of the UN and one of the UN Secretariat’s only working two languages. It is also one of the official languages of other organisations such as the EU, NATO and World Trade Organisation. In many countries around the world, French is being taught in schools alongside English and other local languages. For instance, an article from The New York Times in 2014 showed that French was increasingly being taught in New York especially in K-12 dual-language programs. Also, Forbes published a study in which was concluded that French could again become the world’s most spoken language by 2050.

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