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French Language MapFrench Language MapPhoto: Public domain

The official language in France is French, in addition Breton (Brittany) is spoken by minorities, Occitan (the south), Basque (in the western Pyrenees), German (Alsace-Lorraine), Dutch (French Flanders), Catalan (Roussillon), Italian (around Nice), Corsican (on Corsica).

The French language is a Romance language spoken by approx. 100 million people as their mother tongue, of which approx. 60 million in France. French is also still spoken in Belgium below the line Visé-Mouscron and Brussels, in Switzerland (Suisse romande), Italy (Valle d'Aosta) and Canada (Quebec), and which, in addition to the mother tongue, is used in many former French colonies as the language of administration and administration. French is the continuation of the Vulgar Latin, which was introduced and developed in Gallia Transalpina by the Roman conquerors (58 - 50 BC).

The history of French begins when people through the Carolingian Renaissance, which revived the study of Classical Latin, became aware of a gap between Latin, language of administration, jurisdiction and religion, and everyday language. This is evidenced by a decision of the Council of Tours (813), which from then on had to be preached in the vernacular ("lingua romana rustica"). Broadly speaking, three periods can be distinguished in the history of French: Old French (early 9th & ndash; early 14th century), Middle French (early 14th - early 17th century) and modern French (early 17th century - present).

The French language originally consisted of Latin words introduced by the Romans, supplemented by words of Celtic and Frankish origin. From the 12th century onwards, these "folk words" are borrowed from Latin, the "learned" words. In the 16th century, many words were also borrowed from Italian. Many words have also been borrowed from Dutch, and from English since the 18th century.

Especially in recent decades, much has been borrowed from English in the field of technology, sports, fashion, etc. originated. French purists oppose this “invasion” of foreign words. occitan provenço-alpin. The pronunciation of this variant is about the same as that of Provence, except that the 'ca' of Provence in the Ardèche is pronounced 'cha'.

Below are some typical words from the Ardèche

caillettespiced pork pieé
cellaremote cottage
clèdebuilding to dry chestnuts
couderclarge pasture
drailleroad used by pastoralists
dykeigneous rock
gourpond in cave
lauzeflat piece of slate
moulinagetwisting silk thread




Ardèche, Drôme
Terra Lannoo

BBC - Country Profiles

CIA - World Factbook

Forst, Bettina
Cevennen, Ardèche

Graaf, Gjelt de / Auvergne, Ardèche

Kalmbach, Gabriele

Talbot, Roseline
Natuurreisgids Ardèche en Auvergne


Last updated April 2024
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