French is a Romance language. Like other Romance languages, it comes mainly from Latin. But other languages also had an influence on French being the way it is today. An example: the typical French interrogative sentence "Est-ce que ...? goes back to the Celtic language. Literally, it means: "Is it that ...?"

In ancient times, the Romans had conquered large parts of Europe, including what is now France. There, in Gaul, lived Celts. The way of counting in French probably also comes from a Celtic language. The number 80, for example, is called "quatre vingts" in French, which actually means: four twenties.

Latin gradually became established. However, this happened first in the cities and the schools, and only later in remote areas. In the course of modern times, French became more important than Latin because France was a particularly powerful country in Europe. From the 17th century onwards, French became the language of the European nobility. As a result, many words entered the various languages. The philosopher Voltaire wrote of his visit to the court of the Prussian king Frederick: "I am here in France. They speak our language, German is only for the soldiers and the horses, you only need it for the road."

French was also spoken in the French colonies, especially in Africa. French is one of the languages of the United Nations. About 250 million people in the world can speak French. This French-speaking world has declared 20 March as its day. There are no differences, as there are, for example, between American and British English. Everywhere, the language of France applies.

In the Canadian province of Québec, the majority of people speak French. This French is somewhat different from the French spoken in Paris.

English has had an important influence on the French language. This is how many English words came into French, such as "week-end". That means weekend. That is why politicians and the Academy of the French Language are trying to limit the influence of English. That is why the French "courriel" is used for the English word "e-mail". Radio stations have to play French titles almost half the time.

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