Introduction to French

Information on Getting Started With French

A good place to begin if you're considering learning any language is to learn about where the language came from and how it functions within linguistics. If you're thinking about learning French before your next visit to Paris, this quick guide will get you started on discovering where French came from.

The Language of Love

French belongs to a group of languages identified as a "Romance language," although that's not why it's called the language of love. In linguistic terms, "Romance" and "Romanic" have nothing to do with love; they come from the word "Roman" and simply mean "from Latin." Other terms sometimes used for these languages are "Romanic," "Latin," or "Neo-Latin" languages. These languages evolved from Vulgar Latin between the sixth and ninth centuries. Some other very common Romance languages include Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. Other Romance languages include Catalan, Moldavian, Rhaeto-Romanic, Sardinian and Provençal. Because of their shared roots in Latin, these languages can have many words that are similar to each other. 

Places French Is Spoken

Romance languages originally evolved in Western Europe, but colonialism spread some of them all over the world. As a result, French is spoken in many regions other than just France. For example, French is spoken in the Maghreb, through Central and West Africa, and in Madagascar and Mauritius. It's the official language in 29 countries, but the majority of the francophone population is in Europe, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, with about 1% being spoken in Asia and Oceania. 

Even though French is a Romance language, which you now know means that it is based on Latin, French has a number of characteristics that set it apart from the other members of its linguistic family. The development of French and basic French linguistics go back to French's evolution from Gallo-Romance which was the spoken Latin in Gaul and even more specifically, in Northern Gaul. 

Reasons to Learn to Speak French

Aside from becoming fluent in the world's recognized "language of love," French has long been an international language for diplomacy, literature and commerce, and has played a significant role in the arts and sciences as well. French is a recommended language to know for business as well. Learning French can allow communication for various business and leisure travel opportunities across the world. 

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Team, ThoughtCo. "Introduction to French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). Introduction to French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "Introduction to French." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).