According to Article 2 of the constitution of France, French is the official language in the country. The French government primarily communicates in French. There are about seventy-five languages that have been recognized under the government proposal to ratify regional languages, the government also continues to recognize all regional and minority languages but to a limited extent. French is a Romance language that belongs to the Indo-European family; these are a group of languages that are a descendant of the Vulgar Latin, which was a nonstandard form of Latin that was known for common speech. French was also influenced a lot by Celtic and Germanic languages.

Apart from French, which is used as the first language by 88% of the population, other commonly used languages are English, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic and Portuguese. Several languages are spoken in different regions of France which had their origin from the Germanic, Celtic and Gallo-Romance dialects. For instance, Breton is a Celtic language spoken by about 200,000 people. Corsican is another language that has a Roman origin with influence from Tuscan in Italy, currently spoken by 200,000 people mainly in Corsica. Occitan is spoken in southern France it is thought to have originated in Occitan valley in Italy. Gascon is spoken primarily in the southern provinces of Gascony and Bearn by about 250,000 people, and the dialect has some ties with The Basque language due to the proximity to those two language speakers. Auvergnat is spoken in the Auvergne province south of France. Norma has 100,000 people speaking the language that started at the time of Norse invasion of Normandy.

French has some great phrases that have even found their way into the English language usage, for instance, à la carte which means in the menu, amour fou meaning insane love, and déjà vu meaning already seen.

The minority languages in France, many of which are thought be nearing extinction, include Gallo, which has about 28,000 speakers. It is part of the Óil family made-up of French languages. The language existed alongside Breton. Basque is another minority language spoken by few people in France - around 51,000 people to be exact. It has been theorized that the language existed before the formation of modern European languages. The Languedocien language is spoken in southern France by about 5,000 people only. Other minority languages include Polish, Turkish, Dutch, Romanian, Chinese, Catalan, Croatian, and Galician, used in France by less than 1% of the population.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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