Portal:French language and French-speaking world

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French language and French-speaking world

The French language in the world
French (Français, IPA: [fʁɑ̃sɛ]) is a Romance language spoken as a first language by about 136 million people worldwide. A total of 220 million speak it as a first and second language. French speaking communities are present in 57 countries and territories. Most native speakers of the language live in France, where the language originated. The rest live essentially in Canada, particularly Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario, as well as Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and certain places in the U.S. states of Maine and Louisiana. Most second-language speakers of French live in Francophone Africa, arguably exceeding the number of native speakers.

French is a descendant of the Latin language of the Roman Empire, as are national languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian and Catalan, and minority languages ranging from Occitan to Neapolitan and many more. Its closest relatives however are the other langues d'oïl and French-based creole languages. Its development was also influenced by the native Celtic languages of Roman Gaul and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders.

It is an official language in 29 countries, most of which form what is called, in French, La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking countries. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations. According to the European Union, 129 million (or 26% of the Union's total population), in 27 member states speak French, of which 65 million are native speakers and 69 million claim to speak French either as a second language or as a foreign language, making it the third most spoken second language in the Union, after English and German. Twenty-percent of non-Francophone Europeans know how to speak French, totaling roughly 145.6 million people.

According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence universitaire de la francophonie, French speakers will number approximately 500 million people in 2025 and 650 million people, or approximately 7% of the world's population by 2050.

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The Alliance française (French pronunciation: ​[aljɑ̃s fʁɑ̃sɛz], French Union), or AF, is an organisation whose mission is to promote French language and culture outside France. Its primary concern is teaching French as a second language. It is headquartered in Paris.

The Alliance was created in Paris on 21 July 1883 by a group of eminent men, including the scientist Louis Pasteur, the diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, the writers Jules Verne and Ernest Renan, and the publisher Armand Colin.

It finances most of its activities from the fees it receives from its courses and from rental of its installations. The French government also provides a subsidy covering approximately five percent of its budget (nearly 665,000 in 2003)

More than 440,000 students learn French at one of the centres run by the Alliance, whose network of schools includes:

  • a centre in Paris,
  • locations throughout France for foreign students and
  • 1071 locations in 133 different countries.

The organisations outside Paris are local, independently-run franchises. Each has a committee and a president. The Alliance française brand is owned by the Paris centre. In many countries, the Alliance française of Paris is represented by a Délégué général. The French Government also run 150 separate French Cultural Institutes, that exist to promote French language and culture. Read more...

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Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, mostly known by his stage name Molière, (French pronunciation: ​[mɔljɛʁ]; January 15, 1622 – February 17, 1673) was a French playwright and actor who is considered one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière's best-known dramas are Le Misanthrope (The Misanthrope), L'École des femmes (The School for Wives), Tartuffe ou L'Imposteur, (Tartuffe or the Hypocrite), L'Avare ou L'École du mensonge (The Miser), Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), and Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman).

Born into a prosperous family and having studied at the Collège de Clermont (now Lycée Louis-le-Grand), Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre. Thirteen years as an itinerant actor helped him polish his comic abilities while he began writing, combining Commedia dell'Arte elements with the more refined French comedy.

Through the patronage of a few aristocrats, including Philippe I, Duke of Orléans -- the brother of Louis XIV -- Molière procured a command performance before the King at the Louvre. Performing a classic play by Pierre Corneille and a farce of his own, Le Docteur amoureux (The Doctor in Love), Molière was granted the use of salle du Petit-Bourbon at the Louvre, a spacious room appointed for theatrical performances. Read more...

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La Francophonie

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