French used to be the language of the nobility and diplomacy all across
Europe and in the Ottoman Empire, then the world's first real
language until English replaced it in the mid-20th century.
Metropolitan France counts several native regional languages : Alsatian
Lorraine German (both High German dialects), Occitan (incl. Gascon and
Provençal), Oïl dialects (such as Picard and Poitevin-Saintongeais),
Breton, Catalan, Corsican and Franco-Provençal.
In spite of foreign stereotypes, many French people can speak at least
foreign language (45% are able to participate in a conversation in a
language according to Eurobarometer in 2005), and English is the most
A survey in 1794 revealed that a mere 11% of the population of France
pure French speakers. As late as in 1880, only 20% of the population
actually speak French fluently. Nowadays, 86% of French people are
French speakers if this is defined by the language their parents spoke
them before the age of 5. Oc languages account for 3.65%, Oïl languages
3.10%, German and German dialects for 3.15%, and Arabic for 2.55%.
French was the official language of England for over 300 years (from
until the early 15th century). It is still the official language of 30
French language is spoken by 270 million people worldwide (almost as
the population of the USA), of which 120 million are native or fluent.
are less than 60 million of White Caucasian native speakers of standard
The variety of French spoken in Quebec, Canada, is a distant dialect
French spoken in Europe, and sometimes hard to understand for French