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French language all over the world
French is the official language in 29 countries and is spoken by more than 200 million people over the world, which ranked la langue de Molière to the sixth most widely spoken language.
Due to French speaking countries’ colonialism in the 17th and 18th centuries, French language has expanded to new continents and can now be heard all over the world.
Before English became the ‘’international language’’, French was one of the most used languages for international relations and is still recognised nowadays as one of the three most useful languages for international business – alongside English and Mandarin Chinese.
Let’s talk about history
If you think French is one of the hardest languages to learn, you should probably know that 29% of the English words actually come from French, which means that it is very unlikely that you do not know anything about French.
English History has been marked by several – not always friendly – exchanges with France. Historians agree that the Norman invasion in 1066 had a very important impact on Britain as well as on the English language. William the Conqueror brought with him the Norman French, the old French spoken in the North of France, which became primary language for the court and upper-classes, which is why we mainly find French words in the luxury sector, or in military and religion related words.
French words and phrases that cannot be translated
Here is a small selection of words and phrases that cannot be translated in English:
- Passer du coq à l’âne: to change the subject, without logic or randomly, in a conversation. Or radically change activity. Literal Translation: To go from the cock to the donkey.
- Donner sa langue au chat: when you have no clue about something, or for instance, you give up on a riddle. Literal translation: to give one’s tongue to the cat.
- Empêchement: when you have an unexpected change in your agenda and cannot go where you first planned to go.
Famous non-native speakers
Samuel Beckett: Irish poet, novelist and play writer lived in Paris wrote several of his works in French.
Bradley Cooper, Emma Watson.
Need help with French translation?
If you are looking for French translation and interpreting services we can help.
Since 1991, we have reference-checked and approved more than 4000 linguists based across the globe, proficient in more than 340 languages and dialects – including French. They are professionally qualified, many are DBS (formerly CRB) checked, and each is selected for their specialist sector knowledge and experience.
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