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  • Post subject: General information about the French language
Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:50 pm 
مراقب عام
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What Is French?
Learn about the French language: where it came from, where it's spoken and by how many people, why you should learn it, and how it compares to other languages.

If you've ever wondered where French came from and how it fits in with other languages, here is some basic information.

French is a Romance language, although that's not why it's called the language of love. In linguistic terms, "Romance" and "romantic" have nothing to do with love; they come from the word Roman and simply mean "from Latin."

The complete language family classification of French is as follows:

     Indo-European --> Italic --> Romance

Indo-European is the largest language family in the world. It comprises most of the languages of Europe, the Americas, and Asia, including such varied languages as Latin, Greek, Russian, Persian, and Sanskrit.

Italic essentially refers to Latin.

Romance languages originally evolved in Western Europe, but colonialism help to spread some of them all over the world.

Even though French is a Romance language, which you now know means that it is based on Latin, French has a number of characteristics that set it apart from the other members of its linguistic family.

Development of the French Language

French is a Romance language (learn more), but it has a number of characteristics that set it apart from the other members of its linguistic family. Here is an extremely simplified synopsis of its development:
 

There has always been an important linguistic difference between the north and south of France. In 120 B.C. in the southeast of France (known as Gaul at the time), the Romans founded a province and all but replaced the extant Ligurians' language with Vulgar Latin.* In contrast, the Gaulish (essentially several Celtic dialects) spoken in the north didn't take a backseat to Latin until 58 B.C., when Julius Caesar conquered the north of Gaul. Thus Latin had some 60 years more influence on the south than the north. A further distinction between north and south was caused by the German Frankish invasion in the 400s A.D., which contributed some grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary (including the terms "France" and "French"), as these influences were concentrated in the north.

This linguistic and cultural split eventually led to the emergence of three dialectal regions:

  1. Langue d'oïl (north)
  2. Langue d'oc (south)
  3. Franco-provençal (east)

The first two dialectal regions are named for the way "yes" was said: oïl in the north and oc in the south. Franco-provençal was a sort of intermediary, with various linguistic traits from the north and others from the south. Eventually, these three regions broke down into dozens of regional dialects, such as Parisian French, Picard, and Limousin. The political importance of the Parisian region eventually led to langue d'oïl in general and the French spoken in and around Paris in particular becoming the dominant dialect. However, there are still some 70 spoken dialects spoken in France today. (In addition, several distinct languages are spoken in certain regions, particularly along the border: Basque, Breton, Alsatian, Provençal, etc.)

In the 9th century, Charlemagne attempted to revive interest in and knowledge of Latin with a series of efforts known as la renaissance carolingienne. What he found was that the average person wasn't even speaking Latin - the common language at this time had already evolved into what we call today Old French. In 842, the first French text, les Serments de Strasbourg, was written.

Old French gave way to Middle French in the 14th century, and in 1539 François I proclaimed the Ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts, which replaced Latin with French as the official administrative and judiciary language of France.

By the 17th century, French, although still evolving, had matured into a language as dignified as Latin. Writers and grammarians worked to make the language consistent and comprehenible. 1606 saw the publication of the first French dictionary, Thresor de la langue francoyse, tant ancienne que moderne by Aimar de Ranconnet and Jean Nicot. Cardinal Richelieu founded l'Académie française in 1635, and the first Dictionnaire de l'Académie was published 59 years later.

Since then, French has continued to grow and evolve. Immigrants from North Africa have contributed numerous words to French, and of course extensive borrowings from English have led to a mix of French and English, particularly among teenagers, known as franglais.

French is spoken officially in 33 countries - that is, there are 33 countries in which French is either the official language, or one of the official languages. This number is second only to English, which is spoken officially in 45 countries. French and English are the only languages spoken as a native language on 5 continents and the only languages taught in every country in the world.

I. French is the official language of France and its overseas territories* as well as 14 other countries:

  1. Bénin
  2. Burkina Faso
  3. Central African Republic
  4. Congo (Democratic Republic of)
  5. Congo (Republic of)
  6. Côte d'Ivoire
  7. Gabon
  8. Guinea
  9. Luxembourg
 10. Mali
 11. Monaco
 12. Niger
 13. Sénégal
 14. Togo

French is also the official language of certain regions of multilingual countries:

   * Belgium: Wallonie region
   * Canada: Québec province
   * Switzerland: Jura, Genève, Neuchâtel, and Vaud districts


II. French is one of the official languages in the following countries:

   * Belgium
   * Burundi
   * Cameroon
   * Canada
   * Chad
   * Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey)
   * Comoros
   * Djibouti
   * Equatorial Guinea
   * Haiti (the other official language is French Creole)
   * Madagascar
   * Rwanda
   * Seychelles
   * Switzerland
   * Vanuatu


to be continued ...  *1

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  • Post subject: General information about the French language
Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:36 pm 
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How French Has Influenced English

The English language has been shaped by a number of other languages over the centuries, and many English speakers know that Latin and German were two of the most important. What many people don't realize is how much the French language has influenced English.

Without going into too much detail, I want to give a little bit of background about the other languages which shaped English. It was born out of the dialects of three German tribes (Angles, Jutes, and Saxons) who settled in Britain in about 450 A.D. This group of dialects forms what linguists refer to as Anglo-Saxon, and at some point this language developed into what we know as Old English. This Germanic base was influenced in varying degrees by Celtic, Latin, and Scandinavian (Old Norse) - the languages spoken by invading armies.

Bill Bryson calls the Norman conquest of 1066 the "final cataclysm [which] awaited the English language."  When William the Conqueror became king of England, French took over as the language of the court, administration, and culture - and stayed there for 300 years. Meanwhile, English was "demoted" to everyday, unprestigious uses. These two languages existed side by side in England with no noticeable difficulties; in fact, since English was essentially ignored by grammarians during this time, it took advantage of its lowly status to become a grammatically simpler language and, after only 70 or 80 years existing side-by-side with French, Old English segued into Middle English.

Vocabulary

During the Norman occupation, about 10,000 French words were adopted into English, some three-fourths of which are still in use today. This French vocabulary is found in every domain, from government and law to art and literature - learn some. More than a third of all English words are derived directly or indirectly from French, and it's estimated that English speakers who have never studied French already know 15,000 French words.

Pronunciation

English pronunciation owes a lot to French as well. Whereas Old English had the unvoiced fricative sounds [f], [s], [θ] (as in thin), and [∫] (shin), French influence helped to distinguish their voiced counterparts [v], [z], [ð] (the), and [ʒ] (mirage), and also contributed the diphthong [ɔy] (boy).

Grammar

Another rare but interesting remnant of French influence is in the word order of expressions like secretary general and surgeon general, where English has retained the noun + adjective word order typical in French, rather than the usual adjective + noun used in English.

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  • Post subject: General information about the French language
Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:10 pm 
مشرفة قسم Say It in English
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عصام,  

It's very nice to read an interesting and informative topic like yours here  :wink:

To know the history of each country , you have to know the history of its language :arrow:

It's really fantastic  :wink:  *ورود

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