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French language

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in French: Candide. chapter I. Voltaire
Places where French is spoken

French (Français) is a language spoken in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and several countries of Northern Africa (Tunisia, Gabon, etc.) and Western Africa (for example, Uganda), in the Caribbean (places like Martinique) and elsewhere. It is also the official language of the Canadian province of Quebec and one of the official languages of New Brunswick. French is a Latin language like Spanish and Italian.

Writing system[edit | edit source]

French uses the Latin alphabet just as English does, with the addition of several accent marks that are not used in English: the acute accent or accent aigu (é), the grave accent or accent grave (è), and the circumflex accent or accent circonflexe (ê). There is also a diacritical mark called a cedilla or cédille, which is placed under the letter c (ç) to give it a soft pronunciation (like an "s" sound) in certain situations where it would otherwise be pronounced hard (like a "k").

Speakers[edit | edit source]

There are 110 million people who can speak French natively. But there are 300 million French speakers total, which means that 190 million people decided to learn the language as adults! This is because there is a lot of interesting literature in French. French is also a language often used in diplomacy.

French is spoken all around the world.

French was first spoken in France. Four of France's neighbors — Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Monaco — also use French as one of their official languages. And because of colonization, French is spoken in Canada (the majority in Québec), Louisiana, some countries in Africa, and other places around the world.

History[edit | edit source]

French evolved from the Latin language, just like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. In the 1600s, French people came to Canada and settled in the area we now call Québec. Some French people (who were expelled from Canada) also settled in Louisiana, which was named in honor of King Louis XIV of France. Louisiana is now a state of the United States. In the 1800s, France conquered large parts of northern, western, and central Africa. As France took over ruling these territories and their populations, they established French as the language of instruction in schools, and as the official language of the government. Over time, French became the second native language of many African people, although local languages are still used most often in the home. Although France no longer rules these former colonies, they still use French in daily life.

Authors and poets[edit | edit source]

Some famous authors or poets in this language are:

  • Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885), Les Misérables
  • Alexandre Dumas (1802 – 1870), Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers)
  • Jules Verne (1828 – 1905), Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea)
  • Francois Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire (1694 – 1778), Zadig ou la Destinée (Zadig, or The Book of Fate)
  • Gaston Leroux (1868 – 1927), Le Fantôme de l'Opéra (The Phantom of the Opera)

Basic words[edit | edit source]

Salut Saloo Hello/Bye
Bonjour Bonjoor Good day
Bon apres-midi Bon apre meedee Good afternoon
Bonsoir Bonswahr Good evening
Bonne nuit Bon nwee Good night
Quoi de neuf ? kwa de nehf? What's up?
Pas grand-chose. Pa gron shoz Not much.
Au revoir. O rehvwahr Good-bye.
À demain. A deuhma See you tomorrow.
À bientôt. A biantoe See you soon.
Phrases de base Fraz de bas Basic phrases
Parlez-vous anglais ? parlay-voo Z anglay? Do you speak English?
Où sont les toilettes ? oo sohn ley twalet? Where is the bathroom?
Plus lentement, s'il vous plaît. Ploo lontemon, sil voo play. (Speak) slower please.
J'aime . . . j'em . . . I like . . .
Je n'aime pas . . . Juh n'em pa . . . I don't like . . .
Je m'appelle. . . Juh map'el . . . My name is. . .
Comment t'appelles-tu ? Comon tap'el tu ? What is your name?

Song, poem and story[edit | edit source]

Petit Papa Noël[edit | edit source]

Petit Papa Noël Little Santa Claus
Quand tu descendras du ciel When you come down from the sky
Avec des jouets par milliers With toys in the thousands
N'oublie pas mes petits souliers Don't forget my little shoes
Mais avant de partir But before leaving
Il faudra bien te couvrir It will be necessary to cover you
Dehors tu vas avoir si froid Outside you will be so cold
C'est un peu à cause de moi It's a little because of me

Dame Tartine[edit | edit source]

Il était une Dame Tartine There once was a Dame Tartine (tartine is a kind of sandwich)
Dans un beau palais de beurre frais. Who lived in a beautiful palace of fresh butter.
La muraille était de praline, The walls were made of praline,
Le parquet était de croquets, The floors were of croquettes,
La chambre à coucher The bedroom
De crème de lait, Of fresh cream,
Le lit de biscuit, The bed, a biscuit,
Les rideaux d'anis. And curtains of aniseed.

Frère Jacques[edit | edit source]

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques Brother James, Brother James.
Dormez-vous, Dormez-vous? Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Sonnez les matines, Sonnez les matines. Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing.
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

This song can be sung as a 'round', which is when one person or group starts the song, and when they arrive at the end of the first verse, the second person or group begins.

Frère Jacques.png

References[edit | edit source]

  • "French language." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 31 Mar 2006, 16:33 UTC. 2 Apr 2006, 06:51 [1].
  • French Wikibook
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