Fun Facts about French

French is spoken on all continents, in more than 50 countries and by about 200 million people. There are 115 million native speakers.

  • French is also the second-most studied foreign language in the world.
  • In French, only foreign words contain the letter “W”.
  • Kinshasa (DR Congo) is the second largest French speaking city after Paris.
  • French is a distortion of the Latin language of the Roman Empire.
  • From the 17th century to the middle of the 20th century French was the most important language of diplomacy and international relations.
  • The Académie française is France’s official authority on usage, vocabulary and grammar. It is known for its strict regulations on anglicisms entering the language.
  • The French comic book series Astérix is translated from French into over 100 languages.
  • At the time of the French Revolution 75% of French citizens did not speak French as their mother tongue.
  • In Canada, 300,000 children are enrolled in French immersion programs, and 3 million adults whose mother tongue is not French speak French as a second language.
  • In the United States, French is the number four native language and the second most taught second language after Spanish.
  • One of the longest sentences in literature comes from Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”: 823 words without a period.
  • Following the victory of the Normans over the English in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, French was the official language of England for about 300 years until 1362.
  • For this reason, about 30 to 50% of the basic English words are of French origin.

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