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Francization or Francisation (in Canadian English and American English), Frenchification (in British and also in American English), or Gallicization designates the extension of the French language by its adoption as a first language or not, adoption that can be forced or desired by the concerned population.[1][2][3][4]

Francization in the world[edit]

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, 220 million in 2010 (+10% from 2007).[5] and reached 274 millionIncrease in 2014,[6] Forecasts expect that the number of French speakers in Africa alone will reach 400 million in 2025, 715 million (Readjusted in 2010)[7] by 2050 and reach 1 billion and 222 million in 2060(Readjusted in 2013).[8] the worldwide French speaking population is expected to multiply by a factor of 4, whereas the world population is predicted to multiply by a factor of only 1.5.[9]

According to the OIF, the figure of 220 million Francophones is "sous-évalué" or under-evaluated [10] because it only counts people that can write, understand and speak French fluently, thus excluding a large part of the countdown of the African population that does not know how to write.[11]

French is also the language in which the relative share of speakers is the world's fastest growing.

The French Conseil économique, social et environnemental estimate that if the population that does not know how to write would be included as francophones, then the total number of French speakers passed the 500 million in the year 2000.[12]

In 2014, a study from the renowned Natixis Bank, showed that French will become the world's most spoken language by 2050.[13][14][15] However critics of the study state that French coexists with other languages in many countries and that the estimations of the study are greatly overstated.


  Countries normally considered as francophone
  Countries sometimes considered as francophone
  Countries not considered francophone but that joined the OIF in prospect of a francization.

Out of 53 countries, Africa has 32 French-speaking countries, more than half;[16] French is also the most widely spoken language in Africa in 2015.[17]

The Francophone zone of Africa is two times the size of the United States of America (including Alaska)[18]

French was introduced in Africa by France and Belgium during the colonial period, the process of francization continued after the colonial period, so that countries like Ghana or Nigeria that are English speaking countries feel a strong French speaking influences as they are completely surrounded by French speaking countries.

French became the most spoken language in Africa after Arabic, Swahili in 2010[19] The number of speakers is changing very rapidly between 1992 and 2002, the number of learners of French in sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean increased by 60.37%Increase, from 22,33 millions to 34,56 millions peoples.[20]

We can observe a similar trend in the Maghreb region. However, the figures provided by the OIF for the Maghreb region were combined with those of the Middle East; the exact count for the Maghreb countries alone is not possible, but an increase is observed from 10.47 million to 18 millionsIncrease of learners between 1992 and 2002, even where French is not an official language (Egypt).

We must also consider the number of French speakers in each country to get an idea of the importance played by the French in Africa.

List of counties with French as a non official language that have recently decided to join the OIF in view of frenchifying their countries:

The French language currently plays an important role in Africa, serving more and more as a common language or mother tongue (in Gabon, Ivory Coast, Congo, Cameroon and Benin in particular) and in many countries, and its usage intensifies. The African Academy of Languages{was established in 2001 to manage the linguistic heritage.[21]

Francophone African countries combined 370 millions of inhabitant in 2014, their population is set to reach between 785 millions to 814 millions in 2050. There is already more francophone in Africa that in Europe.



Great Britain[edit]

Great Britain, and therefore the English language, was deeply francized during the Middle Ages. This was a result of the conquest of England by William the Conqueror from Normandy in 1066, a king who spoke exclusively French and imposed the French language in England. Old English became the language of the poor population and French the language of the court and wealthy population. It is said that during this period England spoke more French that France itself.[22] Today, it is estimated that 70% to 72% of the English language comes from French or Latin.[23]

It is easy to observe this tendency in the cooking world. The names of living farm animals have Anglo-Saxon roots. However, the names of cooked animals, once served to the wealthier, have Old French origins:[24]

There is an incomplete list of French expressions used in English; however, it only contains pure French expressions and not words with French roots: List of French expressions in English


Francization within France[edit]

Francization is also a designation 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 their existing identity. Coupled with this policy was the deliberate suppression of minority languages.

Only at the turn of the 20th century did French become the language of the adult population's majority in the French Third Republic, thanks to Jules Ferry's free, compulsory education, which pursued more or less explicitly the strengthening of the central state by means of instilling a French national identity in the population.[25] French was presented as the language of modernity, as opposed to regional languages such as Briton or Basque, labeled as barbaric or tribal, the use of which was punished at school by having pupils caught speaking them display tokens of shame.[26] In Occitan speaking areas that school policy was called the vergonha.

Up to 1992, no official language was recognized in the French constitution. That year, the hegemony of French was further reinforced by declaring it constitutionally the language of the French republic.

National minorities[edit]

The term can be applied to the Francization of the Alemannic-speaking inhabitants of Alsace-Lorraine after this region was conquered by Louis XIV during the 17th century, 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, the langue d'oïl dialect spoken at the time in the Île-de-France, in all 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.[citation needed] However, the process is limited by the refusal of the French Government to recognize minority languages in France, on the basis of the French Constitution, which states that "The language of the Republic of France is French."

French Colonial Empire[edit]

Lycée Albert Sarraut was a French high school in Hanoi, Vietnam during the French colonial period. The school offered rigorous academic programmes with the explicit purpose of creating foreigners who thought in French and like Frenchmen. Many well-known Vietnamese scholars and leaders graduated from Lycée Albert Sarraut.


Francization of Brussels and the Flemish periphery[edit]

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.[27][28] 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.[29] 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.[30] The francization of the Flemish periphery around Brussels still continues because of the continued immigration of French-speakers, coming from Wallonia and Brussels.

North America[edit]



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.[31]

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 because they are unable to speak French.[32]

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.[33]

The francization programmes have been considered a great success. Since 1977 (the year the Charter of the French Language became law), the number of English speakers[clarification needed] has decreased from 14% in 1970 to less than 6.7% in 2006. In the 1970s the French language was generally understood only by native French speakers, 80% of the population of Quebec. In 2001, French was understood by more than 94% of the population.[34] Moreover, the number of immigrants choosing English schools for their children fell from 80% in 1970 to less than 4% in 2006.[citation needed]

French is also becoming increasingly attractive to foreign speakers, suggesting that the francization programmes have been successful.[citation needed]

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 as well; it seems more likely that the decrease was caused by the fact that 93% of new immigrants choose to settle in Montreal,[35] with a corresponding rise in languages other than English and French. The government of Quebec estimates that over the next 20 years, the Francophone proportion of Montreal will go back up.[36]

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).[37]

The success of 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,[38][39] 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 number of French-speaking Quebecers leaving the province tends to be similar to the number entering, while immigrants to Quebec tend to leave.[40]

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.[41] By 2001, over 60% of the 1971 population of Quebec Anglophones had left the province.[42]

The policy has been even more successful in New Brunswick. 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% in 2006). Some cities even passed 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.[43][44][45]

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 Bill 101, Montreal looked like an American city. Now Montreal looks like a French-speaking city; that proves how well Bill 101 has worked!"[46]

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 the language[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^é (French)
  2. ^ Dictionnaire Général Et Grammatical, Des Dictionnaires Français, Tome 2°, 1851.
  3. ^ Nouveau Vocabulaire Français, Où L'on A Suivi L'orthographe Adoptée.
  4. ^ Le Québécois - Dictionnaires et Langues.
  5. ^ "La Francophonie ne progresse pas qu'en Afrique - Général - RFI". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ (French) Cahiers québécois de démographie, vol. 31, n° 2, 2003, p. 273-294.
  8. ^ "Un milliard de francophones en 2060". 2013-03-20. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  9. ^ (French) Cahiers québécois de démographie, vol. 32, n° 2, 2003, p. 273-294
  10. ^ "TV5MONDE : TV internationale francophone : Info, Jeux, Programmes TV, Météo, Dictionnaire". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  11. ^ "This website is for sale! - afriqueavenir Resources and Information". 2010-10-15. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "FRANCE - Le français, langue la plus parlée en 2050 ?". 2014-03-26. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  14. ^ Pierre Haski (2014-03-25). "Le français sera la langue la plus parlée dans le monde en 2050 - Rue89 - L'Obs" (in French). Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  15. ^ "Le français sera-t-il la langue la plus parlée en 2050 ?". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  16. ^ African French
  17. ^
  18. ^ List of countries and dependencies by area
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Jacques Leclerc. "Histoire du français: Ancien français". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  23. ^ "Histoire du français". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  24. ^ Jacques Leclerc (2014-10-14). "Histoire du français: le moyen français". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  25. ^ Watson, Cameron (2003). Modern Basque History: Eighteenth Century to the Present. University of Nevada, Center for Basque Studies. p. 210. ISBN 1-877802-16-6. 
  26. ^ Watson (1990), p. 211.
  27. ^ [2][dead link]
  28. ^ "Université Laval: Accueil". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  29. ^ (Dutch) "Thuis in gescheiden werelden" — De migratoire en sociale aspecten van verfransing te Brussel in het midden van de 19e eeuw", BTNG-RBHC, XXI, 1990, 3-4, pp. 383-412, Machteld de Metsenaere, Eerst aanwezend assistent en docent Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  30. ^ J. Fleerackers, Chief of staff of the Belgian Minister for Dutch culture and Flemish affairs (1973). "De historische kracht van de Vlaamse beweging in België: de doelstellingen van gister, de verwezenlijkingen vandaag en de culturele aspiraties voor morgen". Digitale bibliotheek voor Nederlandse Letteren (in Dutch). 
  31. ^ [3][dead link]
  32. ^ Information from the Quebec government
  33. ^ "English section- The Charter of the French language". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  34. ^ [4][dead link]
  35. ^ "Annexe | Le français langue commune :enjeu de la société québécoise :bilan de la situation de la langue française au Québec en 1995 :rapport | Conseil supérieur de la langue française". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  36. ^ [5][dead link]
  37. ^ "OQLF_FasLin-01-d.indd" (PDF). Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  38. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2001" (in French). 12 March 2002. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  39. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2006 – Province/Territoire" (in French). 5 February 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  40. ^ Statistics Canada. "Factors Affecting the Evolution of Language Groups". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2006-10-27
  41. ^ David Pettinicchio. "Migration and ethnic nationalism: Anglophone exit and the ‘decolonisation’ of Québec" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  42. ^ "Find more at | All Canadian : All The Time". Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  43. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2006 - Région métropolitaine de recensement/Agglomération de recensement" (in French). 5 February 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  44. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2001" (in French). 12 March 2002. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  45. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2006 - Subdivision de recensement" (in French). 5 February 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  46. ^ "L'avenir du français en Europe". Retrieved 10 September 2010.