French Language Statistics In all, approximately 75 million people speak French as their native language. French is the official language of France and its overseas territories as well as Bnin; Burkina Faso, etc. French is also the official language of Haiti, Luxembourg, Central African Republic; Congo (Democratic Republic of); Congo (Republic of); Cte d'Ivoire; Gabon; Guinea; Luxembourg; Mali; Monaco; Niger; Sngal; Togo; the Canadian province of Qubec; and the Swiss districts of Vaud, Neuchtel, Genve, Jura and more than fifteen countries in Africa. The French language is one of the official languages in Canada, Belgium (3 million), and Switzerland (1.5 million), plus it is considered an unofficial second language in many countries such as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. French is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations. In addition, many people around the world learn French in school.

The French language that exists today is the result of a long and complex evolution. Ancient France was invaded by different ethnic and linguistic groups: Celts, Greeks, Romans, Franks and other Germanic tribes, and Arabs. 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.

As you are learning French, you may find it comforting to recognize some French words. However, although French and English share many words and expressions, don't assume that a French vocabulary word always means what you expect it to mean in English.

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