Apprendre la langue Française (l’édition spéciale) – french 101


Source: French Language Guide and French at About.com

– French is a Romance language.  The separation of the French language of Latin was recognized in 813, long before French became a national language. The history of the French language begins with the colonization of Gaul by the Romans. The dialect of Paris gradually became the national language, however, because of the political prestige of the capital and today is accepted as the model of the French language.

– The name “France” actually comes from the name of the Germanic tribe, the Franks, who entered France during late antiquity and gradually became the dominant people. They adopted the late form of Latin that was spoken in the country at the time, but added many of their own words and changed some of the Latin forms to resemble their own more closely.

– French probably ranks as a second tongue after of English. Having served as an international language in diplomacy and commerce as well as among educated people during the last few centuries, it still enjoys great prestige culturally and is one of the languages used officially by the United Nations.

– French is used as the official language of 33 countries and is the co-official language of other countries such as Belgium, Canada, Haiti, Madagascar, and Switzerland.  According to Ethnologue Report in 1999, French was the 11th most common first language in the world, with 77 million first language speakers and another 51 million second language speakers.  From La Francophonie dans le monde report, around 128 million Francophones (a French-speaking person) speak the language fluently and use it regularly; 72 million are “partiel” Francophones, who live in a Francophone country but do not speak the language often; and 100 to 110 million people do not live in a Francophone country but learned French in order to communicate with Francophones (and that would include moi?).

– Notable in phonology was the loss of opposition between Latin long and short vowels, the voicing of intervocalic voiceless consonants, and in some languages the loss of syllable (and word) final s. The emergence of accentual patterns led to the reduction or loss of many unstressed vowels in the more heavily accented languages such as Gallo-Roman and Old French, and to the diphthongization of some stressed vowels in most of the Romance languages.

– French is a moderately inflected language. Nouns and most pronouns are inflected for number (singular or plural); adjectives, for the number and gender (masculine or feminine) of their nouns; personal pronouns, for person, number, gender, and case; and verbs, for mood, tense, and the person and number of their subjects. French has a grammar similar to that of the other Romance languages.

– The greatest difficulty in pronouncing French is knowing which letters not to pronounce. Many French “silent” letters are facultative, being used only to indicate sounds that are pronounced under certain circumstances. French pronunciation is the most difficult aspect of learning French for many students, particularly English speakers. It takes a lot of practice to pronounce French correctly, but if you really want to speak French, good pronunciation is essential. Nothing will kill a conversation faster than an inability to make yourself understood.

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