Alternative name(s): Französisch (de), français (fr), Frans (nl), franska (sv)

Language family: Indo-European

Language Group: Romance

Geographical use: France and its former and current colonies (in Chad by 5% of the population), in Andorra, Monaco, Canada (province of Quebec), Italy, Wallonia and Luxembourg.

Information: French originates in the 7th century AD. The Latin that was formerly spoken in Gaul was converted into what is called Romance, and was spoken by both the higher and lower classes. It is remarkable that the peoples who invaded what is now France, Visigoths, Burgundians and Frankish, did not introduce their own language but simply adopted the area's existing language. Had that not been the case, there would not have been a long history to the Romance language. By the end of the 13th century, two different languages had developed from Romance: the langue d'oïl north of the river Loire, and the langue d'oc south of the same river. The names of these languages are derived of their words for yes: oïl in the north, oc in the south. The most important difference between both languages was the pronunciation of the Latin vowel a. Of these two languages the langue d'oïl became the standard. It became popular all over Europe and existed for a long time next to English in Great Britain. The northern version was officially recognised in the 14th and 15th century when the rulers considered the language to be the national language. In 1694 the first official French dictionary was published. During Louis XIV' rule the French language was at its height and was the language par excellence for diplomats and scientists. Nevertheless French was influenced: Arabic (trade) and Spanish (war) words were borrowed and in the 19th century the romanticism reintroduced a lot of archaic words. From the end of the 19th century English started to influence French. That influence has never ceased and only grew stronger.