French: Its Origins and Where It Is Spoken Today

For various reasons, many Americans are somewhat insulated from languages other than English, or perhaps Spanish. In many ways, this is a fault of our educations system. So now, many people. realizing the importance of being bi- or tri-lingual, are taking matters into their own hands and learning a new language. French is an important language in many parts of the works and may be a good one to add to your linguistic repertoire. Fortunately for those with francophile intentions, a French language school is often close at hand.

Origin of the French Language

French is one of the "Romance Languages", which grew out of Latin in the period following the demise of the Roman Empire. It appears to have differentiated itself from Latin in southern Gaul from a dialect referred to as "Gallo-Romance".  Other Romance languages include Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian.

A person who speaks French is known as a "Francophone", both in English and French. Today, French is the most internationally significant of the Romance languages.

Differences from the Latin Root

Modern French is a much different language than the original Latin, which was brought to Gaul in the first century AD by Julius Ceasar during the Gallic Wars. This is particularly true regarding its phonology: There are distinct differences, generally by shortening, in most French words compared to their Latin root words. For example, the Latin "Vocem", meaning voice, became "Voix" (pronounced "vwa)", in French. French grammar is much more simplified than that of Latin as well. The French language was also influenced by the Germanic Franks, which further differentiated it from its Latin roots.

Places Where French Is Spoken

French is not only spoken in France. It is an official language in more than 25 countries throughout the world. In Europe, it is also widely spoken in Switzerland and Belgium. It is the language of business in most North African countries and many in central Africa as well, largely because of French colonial activity. In North America, Canada is officially bi-lingual. French is the native language of the vast majority of people living in the province of Quebec, It is also spoken in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and even in northern New Hampshire and Vermont. It is also widely spoken in Vietnam, some Caribbean countries, and in French Guiana in South America. French is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.