Parlez-vous français? Evocative of centuries of food, art, and culture in its melodious syllables, French is one of the Romance languages (and by many, considered the language of romance). Descended from the Latin of the Roman Empire, French is the second most studied language around the world (after English), with between 70 to 110 million native speakers and over another 190 million who count it as a second language. The language of culture, literature, and international diplomacy for centuries, French is currently an official language of France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Canada and is also spoken in many other parts of the world, especially Africa.
French and the Livemocha Community
- Over 10% of Livemocha members are learning French
- More people in Brazil are learning French than in any other country – but Brazilian Francophiles are followed closely by French learners in the United States
- Not surprisingly, more French speakers on Livemocha are from France than any other country, but Algeria, the United States, Morocco, Senegal, and Canada are not far behind
French Fun Facts
There are many similar words in French and English (cognates), but beware of “false friends.” Caution sounds like “caution” but means a deposit or financial guarantee; eventuellement isn’t “eventually” but “possibly”; and a préservatif isn’t something that makes food last but a condom.
Say it backwards (or wardsback): in French slang called Verlan, the syllables of words are inverted. L’envers (the inverse) becomes vers-lens (pronounced “verlan”), femme (woman) becomes meuf, or in double verlan, feumeu.
French novelist Georges Perec wrote an entire novel without the letter ‘e’ (La Disparition, translated also without using the letter ‘e’ as “A Void”). He was a member of the experimental group Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, or “Workshop of potential literature”).
“Tell me what you eat & I’ll tell you what you are” – Physiologie du Goût ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante. This treatise on the pleasures of the table was written in 1825. A cheese was later named after author Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.