Before the Roman invasion of what is France today, the territory was inhabited by a Celtic people whom the Romans called Gauls. The language of the Gauls had little impact on French. From the 3rd century on, Gaul was invaded by Germanic tribes whose languages had a profound effect on the Vulgar Latin of the region, especially on its vocabulary.
Medieval French was one of the main historic roots of modern English, notably in terms of vocabulary. Roughly, from the 9th century to the middle of the 15th century was marked by the fragmentation of the Carolingian Empire and West Francia 843–987. A couple of famous work from the time were the Roman de la Rose, and the Arthurian legends. Written in the year 842 the oldest known document written in a form of French, rather than late Latin, is the “Serments de Strasbourg”.
In 1539, King Francis I made French the official language of administration and court proceedings in France, replacing Latin as the official written language of the country. In 1635 the French Academy was founded by Cardinal Richelieu to maintain the purity of the language and its literature and to serve as the ultimate judge of approved usage. Following a period of unification and standardization, 17th-18th centuries the language spoken became the basis of modern French.
French enjoyed the status of being the language of culture and diplomacy throughout the western world. European colonization brought French to the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Modern French derives from Latin – a “Romance” language; as are Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and some other Mediterranean languages. Like all languages, French has evolved considerably in the course of time.
French is one of the world’s major languages. 300 million people worldwide speak French as their native language or as a second language. It is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and one of the two official languages, with English, of the International Postal Union, of the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross, and other organizations.
French is spoken in 55 countries.It is a main or official language in France of course, but also spoken in parts of Belgium and Switzerland, in Monaco, in parts of Canada. As well as being widely spoken in north and west Africa, Lebanon, and parts of south-east Asia, particularly in former French colonies.
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