The French language across the world: Parlez-vous français ?
It was a wandering French geographer with a vision of language as a unifying and deeply generative cultural influence who coined the term “Francophonie” (French-speaking world). His name was Onésime Reclus, a 19th century booster of French culture and language who traveled widely and wrote books primarily about the French colonies in Africa. His vision of language as a unifying influence on people, culturally connecting continental French speakers with French speakers in the Caribbean and Africa would come into its own in the 20th century with the independence of African countries from France, and their emergence onto the world stage.
The birth of the Francophone world
The first President of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor, would use the term in the sixties to announce his country’s enduring connection to France, hoping to expand cultural and institutional cooperation with France for his still newly independent country. Setting the stage for all French-speaking countries to be unified even in their diversity Senghor would declare that the French language should be defined as “a way of thinking and of action: a certain way of asking the question and of finding solutions thanks to a language which contains all the richness of centuries.” So, the Francophone world was born and has endured as a landscape of diverse cultures in countries the whole world over, all speaking French and invested in the beauty and elegance of French culture.
French is a creative cauldron the world over
Indeed, the French language is the language and creative cauldron of many countries in the world. French is the second most spoken language in the EU today, and the 9th most spoken language in the entire world. There are, at this counting, 220 million French speakers worldwide! French, along with English, is the only language spoken and taught on all five continents. Africa has more French speakers than does France with many people in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and in Sub-Saharan countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire (formerly know as “the Ivory Coast” speaking the language. Haiti flies the flag of the French language high as does Quebec in Canada.
French always a language of poetry and postmodern theory
French is also always a language associated with the arts, with poetry and the further reaches of literary and other postmodern theory. Bataille and Baudrillard, Foucault and Derrida are all pored over in universities and read with concentration and delight. Rimbaud, Apollinaire, Robert Desnos and André Breton are poets who still inspire wonder in this 21st century. French has imbued language with imaginative flight and provocations that exceed limits and seduce always with fresh transgressions. Certainly, learning French would be a wonderful place to really begin to comprehend more of all these writers and their influence.
We can help you connect with French
However, if you need experienced platinum standard translators and French mother tongue speakers for interpretation or translation, do let us know here at Chang-Castillo and Associates. We can navigate the world of French, the Francophone world, for you and your company. Please contact us today.