French is a beautiful language spoken by millions of people around the world. If you’re thinking about learning French, or if you’re already in the process of learning, here are 10 surprising facts about the French language that you might not know.
Surprising Facts About the French Language
1. French is the official language of 29 countries. This includes not only France, but also Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and parts of Africa and Polynesia.
2. It’s estimated that there are 77 million native speakers and about 110 million secondary speakers of French worldwide. According to the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF), approximately 321 million people worldwide are “able to speak the language”.
3. French is a Romance language, which means it evolved from Latin. Many words in French have Latin roots, which might help you to better understand them.
4. While its roots are in Latin, French has also borrowed words from other languages over the centuries, including Germanic languages (renard, statistiques), Celtic languages, Greek, Arabic (café, sucre), and Italian (citrouille, graffiti).
5. The French alphabet contains 26 letters, just like English. However, there are also four additional letters (À, È, Ô, Ù) which are considered accented letters and appear on their own at the end of the alphabet.
6. ” Bonjour” is probably the first word you think of when you think of French (and for good reason – it’s used as a greeting), but did you know that there are actually plenty of different ways to say “hello” in French? Coucou, salut, bon matin, bonsoir… Here are a few tips to help you start a conversation in French.
7. French is the second most studied language in the world, with 120 million learners!
8. In French, words can often be spelled several different ways and still be considered correct. For example, the word “clef” (meaning “key”) can also be spelled “clé.” Same for “feignant” and “fainéant” (lazy).
9. Just like in English, there are masculine and feminine words in French. But did you know that one word can be either masculine or feminine depending on its meaning? For example, the word “solde” can be either masculine or feminine depending on what it’s referring to. “Un solde” = “balance”, but “une solde” = salary.
10. One final fun fact: Even though there is the letter “w” in the French alphabet, all French words with a “w” are actually… from another language (mostly English). Wifi, web, wagon…
To be honest, there are more surprising facts about the French language, so be sure to check our articles about the French language! French is a fascinating language with a long history and many quirks. How fun! Learning any language takes time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it to be able to communicate with native speakers in their own tongue. These 10 fun facts should help to motivate you on your journey to fluency! Bon courage !