This blog post was updated on July 12, 2021.
With Bastille Day quickly approaching, you might be yearning for a trip to France. Barring major holidays, France is the most visited country in the world with roughly 75 million tourists arriving every year. If you are one of those 75 million, you might want to study up on the French language. Before you begin your education, here are a few fun facts about French.
You Can Learn It Just About Anywhere: If you are thinking about learning French, you can head to virtually anywhere to learn it. French is taught in every country in the world. The only other language with that distinction is English. Since you can learn French just about anywhere, the language claims roughly 100 million students.
There Are a Lot of Words To Know: Undertaking the task of learning French does not come without its own set of challenges, namely over a million. The French language boasts over a million words. As if those million vocabulary words don’t seem daunting, roughly 20,000 new words are created each year. However, if you know English, learning all of those French words might be useful as around one-third of English words come from French.
Those Fighting in the French Revolution Weren’t Necessarily Speaking French: As many celebrate the storming of the Bastille on July 14th which signaled the start of the French Revolution, you might be surprised to know that those fighting in the French Revolution or merely living through it weren’t necessarily speaking the French we know today. Around 75% of French citizens did not speak French during the French Revolution but rather other languages and dialects.
France Isn’t the Only Country with French as Its Official Language: Learning a few French words and phrases can go a long way in France, but also throughout many other countries in the world. French is the official language of 32 countries. You can find French speakers in Monaco, Luxembourg, parts of Switzerland and Belgium, Québec, Madagascar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Congo, Niger and Sénégal.
French is An Old Timer: Aside from being widely spoken across the world, French is also an old language. Its first written records stem from 842 AD in the Oaths of Strasbourg. However, modern French as we know it first came around in the 17th century, thanks to a number of famous writers including Decartes, Pascal and Racine. While French might have been around a long time, it is certainly not a lax language in that the French Academy, the Académie Francaise, was set up to officially keep up the rules of the language in 1635.