Voice Over Sydney: French is one of the world’s major languages. It is a main or official language not just in France, but in parts of Belgium and Switzerland, in Monaco, in parts of Canada – notably but not only in Quebec – as well as being widely spoken in north and west Africa, Lebanon, and parts of south-east Asia, particularly in former French colonies. It is an official or a main second language in 55 countries worldwide, and is reputed to be the foreign language which is most widely used in international communications, after English. Almost 300 million people speak French as their native language or as a second language.
Voice over Sydney: the History of French Language
Until the early twentieth century, French was the language of diplomacy, and one of the two main languages of international negotiation; today 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 organisations. It is also an official language in the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.
Voice over Sydney: The roots of French
A “romance” language, modern French is derived from Latin (as are Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and some other Mediterranean languages). Mediaeval French was one of the main historic roots of modern English, notably in terms of vocabulary.
Voice over sydney: Like all languages, French has evolved considerably in the course of time; the oldest known document written in a form of French, rather than late Latin, is the “Serments de Strasbourg”, written in the year 842. In Mediaeval times, different forms of French flourished as the language of literature in both France and England: famous works from the time include the “Chansons de geste” (Songs of chivalry), notably the epic “Chanson de Roland”, the Roman de la Rose (the Romance of the Rose), and the Arthurian legends(many written in French in England). By the time of the Renaissance, French had evolved to a point where writers such as Rabelais and Ronsard were writing in a language that is still quite comprehensible to a modern day educated reader; as for the great writers of seventeenth century France, Molière, Corneille and Racine, they remain quite understandable to this day.