Francization, Gallicization, Frankification, or (less often) Frenchification is a process of cultural assimilation that gives a French character to a word, an ethnicity, or a person.
French Colonial Empire
Francization in the World
The number of Francophones (French language speakers) in the world has been rising substantially since the 1980s. In 1985, there were 106 million Francophones around the world. That number quickly rose to 173.2 million in 1997, 200 million in 2005, and reached 220 million in 2010 (+10% from 2007). Forecasts expect that the number of French speakers in Africa alone to reach 400 million in 2025 and 715 million in 2050. By 2050, the worldwide French speaking population will be multiplied by a factor of 4 whereas the world population would only be multiplied by a factor of 1.5.
Francization of ethnic minorities in France
Francization is also a designator applied to a number of ethnic assimilation policies implemented by French authorities from the French Revolution to present. These policies aimed to impose or to maintain the dominance of French language and culture by encouraging or compelling people of other ethnic groups to adopt them, and thereby developing a French identity, at the expense of the existing identity. Coupled with this policy was deliberate suppression of minority languages.
The term can be applied to the Francization of the German-speaking inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine after this region was annexed by France following the First World War, to the Flemings in French Flanders, to the Occitans in Occitania, as well as to Basques, Bretons, Catalans, Corsicans and Niçards.
It began with the ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts under King Francis I of France, that prescribed the official use of the French language in all the documents. Other tongues, such as Occitan, began to disappear as written languages.
Everything was Francized step by step, starting with surnames and place names. Presently, it still continues, but some change their names to bretonize (replacement of 'Le' by 'Ar' for instance Le Bras becomes Ar Braz 'the tall') or occitanize it again. City signs for example, might be spelled in French, but the local authorities are now allowed to add the historic version. However, the process is limited by the refusal of the French Government, on the basis of the French Constitution's line "The language of the Republic of France is French," to recognize minority languages in France.
Francization in Quebec
The Government of Quebec has francization policies intended to establish French as the primary language of business and commerce. All businesses are required to provide written communications and schedules in French, and may not make knowledge of a language other than French a condition of hiring unless this is justified by the nature of the duties. Businesses with more than fifty employees are required to register with the Quebec Office of the French language in order to become eligible for a francization certificate, which is granted if the linguistic requirements are met. If not, employers are required to adopt a francization programme, which includes having employees, especially ones in managerial positions, who do not speak French or whose grasp of French is weak attend French-language training.
As part of the francization programme, the Quebec government provides free language courses for recent immigrants (from other countries or other provinces) who do not speak French or whose command of French is weak. The government also provides financial assistance for those who are unable to find employment due to being unable to speak French.
Another aspect of francization in Quebec regards the quality of the French used in Quebec. The Quebec Office of the French language has, since its formation, undertaken to discourage anglicisms and to promote high standards of French language education in schools.
The francization programmes have been considered a great success, since 1977 (date of the vote on the Charter of the French Language.) the number of English speakers decreased from 14% in 1970 to less than 6.7% in 2006, also in the 70s the French language was understood by only native French speakers, (80%) of the population of Quebec, in 2001, French was understood by more than 94% of the population. Also the number of immigrants choosing English schools for their children fell from 80% in 1970 to less than 4% in 2006.
French is also becoming increasingly attractive to foreign speakers suggesting that the francization programmes have been successful.
Montreal is a particular case, because unlike the rest of Quebec, the French-speaking proportion of the population diminished however this does not mean that the francization programmes failed, as the level of English speakers diminished too; it seems more likely that the decrease was caused by the fact that 93% of new immigrants choose to settle in Montreal, with a corresponding rise in languages other than English and French. The government of Quebec estimate that the next 20 years will see the French-Speaker proportion of Montreal going back up.
But those estimations seems to underestimate the Francization of Montreal for some experts because statistics shows that the proportion has already risen from 55.6% (1996) to 56.4% (2001)
The success of the Francization of Quebec can also be seen over the borders of its territory, in Ontario the proportion of English speakers dropped from 70.5% in 2001 to 68% in 2006 while the proportion of French speakers went up from 4.06% (488 815) in 2006 to 4.80%(580 000) in 2009. However, this statistic must be examined in conjunction with the effects of Quebec francophone out-migration. Interprovincial migration, especially to Ontario, results in a net loss of population in Quebec. The numbers of French-speaking Quebecers leaving the province tend to be similar to the number entering, while immigrants to Quebec tend to leave.
None of the Quebec statistics are adjusted to compensate for the percentage - approximately 20% - of Anglophones who departed the province by the mid-1980s as a consequence of linguistic nationalism. By 2001, over 60% of the 1971 population of Quebec Anglophones had left the province.
The policy has been even more successful in New-Brunswick, where entire cities became French-speaking, for example: the city of Edmundston, which went from 89% of French speakers in 1996 to 93.4% in 2006, the city of Moncton (from 30.4% in 1996 to 33% in 2006), Dalhousie (from 42.5% to 49.5%) and Dieppe (from 71.1% in 1996 to 74.2% en 2006). Some cities even passed over the 50% of French speakers between 1991 to 2006 like Bathurst, which passed from 44.6% of French speakers in 1996 to 50.5% in 2006, or Campbellton, (from 47% in 1996 to 55% in 2006).
The Charter of the French Language has been a complete success according to Hervé Lavenir de Buffon (general secretary of the « Comité international pour le français, langue européenne »), who said in 2006 : "Before the Bill 101, Montreal looked like an American city, now Montreal looks like a French-speaking city, that proves how well the Bill 101 worked!"
Rates of francization may be established for any group by comparing the number of people who usually speak French to the total number of people in the minority language group. See Calvin Veltman's Language Shift in the United States (1983) for a discussion.
Francization of Brussels and the Flemish periphery
In the last two centuries, Brussels transformed from an exclusively Dutch-speaking city to a bilingual city with French as the majority language and lingua franca. The language shift began in the 18th century and accelerated as Belgium became independent and Brussels expanded beyond its original city boundaries. From 1880 on, more and more Dutch-speaking people became bilingual, resulting in a rise of monolingual French-speakers after 1910. Halfway through the 20th century the number of monolingual French-speakers carried the day over the (mostly) bilingual Flemish inhabitants. Only since the 1960s, after the fixation of the Belgian language border and the socio-economic development of Flanders was in full effect, could Dutch stem the tide of increasing French use. The francisation of the Flemish periphery around Brussels still continues because of the continued immigration of French-speakers, coming from Wallonia and Brussels.
Francization of the language
There are many examples of francization in history and popular culture:
- Crème anglaise replacing the word "custard" on restaurant menus.
- Anne Boleyn choosing the French spelling Boleyn over the traditional English Bolin or Bullen.
- Mary, Queen of Scots, choosing the spelling Stuart over Stewart for the name of her dynasty. (The Scots had dual nationality and Mary, Queen of Scots was brought up in France.)
- The common "-escu" final particle in Romanian being traditionally changed to "-esco" in French spellings and being occasionally adopted by the persons themselves as a French equivalent of their names (see Eugène Ionesco, Irina Ionesco, Marthe Bibesco).
- Courriel, short for courrier électronique, replacing e-mail (originally from Québec).
The same exists for other languages, for example English, in which case objects or persons can be anglicized.
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- Afrancesado, Spanish followers of French culture and politics in the 18th and 19th centuries
- French colonial empires
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- (French) Cahiers québécois de démographie, vol. 32, n° 2, 2003, p. 273-294
- Summary of the language of work and francization of business firms
- Information from the Quebec government
- Quebec Charter of the French language
- 94% of immigrant choose Montreal (French)
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