How Many Countries Speak French?
Curious aren’t we? Of course, you want to know how many countries speak French - the language of love. The charm that the language french has can neither be denied nor be ignored, it can only be embraced. Whether you are curious in order to brush up your French before you leave on a trip or looking to expand your business in the fast-growing languages, you are at the right place.
An Introduction to the French Language
French is one of the most popular languages of romance. Like other romance languages including Italian and Spanish, is born from the Common or Vulgar Latin - the language spoken by the Romans. After the Western Roman Empire - where the Common Latin was widely spoken - many of the areas faced isolation in terms of culture and linguistics. These isolated local dialects evolved into these romance languages we know today.
It was the Gallo-Romance dialect used in northern France that ultimately emerged as the French language. In 1539. French finally replaced Latin as the state language of France and became the official language of administration.
How Many People Speak French?
The simple magic number of the people who speak French is 300 Million, however, this fails to capture a more complicated side of the picture. With French being the sixth most spoken language, a lot of different people come into the mix. This 300 Million includes not only the native speakers but also people who speak different dialects, creoles, or just speak partially.
It is the official language across five continents and is also the most studies language second to only English. The number of French speakers is increasing by the day, especially with the population increase in Africa, this number is expected to go really high.
Did you know there were different kinds of French?
We have already seen how segregation of one language led to the birth of so many different languages. Similarly, the kind of French that is spoken in different countries is not the same. Let’s take a look at all the different shades that French has taken.
- France: People often think that when we talk about the French spoken in France we are referring to the Parisian accent, but that is not the case. Remarkably, even just in France itself French has many different versions. There are more than 28 versions of French within France, and the difference is often an opportunity of amusement for the people.
Talking particularly about the Parisian French, you will find that it is not only very rich but also very expressive and fast. It is no secret that people often hold the opinion that it is a little bit over the top.
- Belgium: Belgian is a major French-speaking country as more than 45% of the population is francophone. It does, however, like any other country have its own way around the language of love.
There are almost 10 different versions of French spoken in Belgium, and it might come to your notice that all these versions have a more firm undertone to them. This firmness mainly comes from the influence of the other official language of the country - Dutch. However, due to the proximity, you may find similarities in the Parisian version and the Belgian version.
- Switzerland: Of course, Switzerland has never been known to pick a side (ever!). Why, then, should the accent of a language be anything more than neutral? It is true, the French spoken in the country that has three official languages is absolutely neutral. In fact, it is widely known as the standard French. Almost 20% of the population of the country is francophone.
French-speaking people in French also speak a lot slower than the Francophones of France and Belgium. This is a trait worth appreciating because it doesn't have an urgent tone but is rather relaxed.
- Eastern Canada: Eastern Canada is one of the oldest French-speaking countries in the world, it goes back to 1500s. In fact, it is the mother to almost 95% of the Quebec population. This version of French is not different from the other countries when in writing, at spoken level, however, it is much different.
A Quebecois accent is a very noted accent due to its charming and pleasant tone. It is so appreciated that many linguists argue that it is a cultural treasure, as it still has remnants of the old French
- Haiti: Also known as the Caribbean French, the Haitian French is a bit similar to the Africa French due to the influence of the African languages and different dialects. It is, however, hard to pint out any roots due to the history of the country.
Even though French is the official language of the country you will find that on streets there are many other languages including Haitian Creole is spoken widely. You might require really good French translation services if you don't speak the language.
- Algeria: Due to the colonial rule in Algeria and the Algerian War, French has made quite a place for itself in the country. There is, however, an undeniable influence of Arabic on the version of French spoken in Algeria. Many Arabic words are used in the Maghreb French and vice versa.
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo: The kind of French spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is described as rather straightforward, choppy and not at all messy. This is the same kind of French that is also spoken in Central Africa due to the Belgian colonization.
So, How Many Countries Speak French in total?
The importance of French can be judged by the fact that it is not only a recognized working language by the UN but is also a procedural language of the EU. It is the official language of 29 countries that include:
- Burkina Faso
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo
- The Ivory Coast
- Equatorial Guinea
- The Central African Republic
- Saint Lucia