The 20th of March is French Language Day, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to celebrate with some French culture, language, and history as we ask…parlez vos Francais? Even if you do not speak French, there are many aspects of French culture to study. This event is intended to honor multilingualism and cultural diversity. Most people think of France when they hear the word French, but Africa has the most French speakers. An estimated 120 million Africans from 29 countries speak the language in addition to their native tongues.
The background of French Language Day
French is derived from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire. During this time, France was known as Gaul, and the Romans conquered it in the first and second centuries BC. At the time, they spoke Gaulish, a Celtic language, but the Romans supplanted it with Latin. Germanic nations invaded Gaul in the fifth century, and they were Romanized as well. Due to these external influences, modern French owes its origins to Celtic and Germanic, but primarily to Latin.
Old French was spoken between the ninth and thirteenth centuries and was distinct from Latin. The Oaths of Strasbourg is the earliest known document written in Old French, and its dialects included Francien, a dialect spoken near Paris. During the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, Middle French incorporated Latin, Greek, and Italian terms. The Pléiade, a collection of French poets, inspired the French to strengthen their language and literature.
The modern period of French began in the seventeenth century, and in 1635 Cardinal Richelieu founded the French Academy. This was done to preserve the purity of the language and its literature. The vernacular has evolved over time alongside artistic movements such as romanticism and realism, but for the most part, it has remained faithful to this era.
In 2010, the Department of Public Information of the United Nations made French Language Day an official celebration of multiculturalism and multilingualism. This day is also used to promote the equal use of the six official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, and Russian. The 20th of March is also celebrated as International Day of La Francophonie, commemorating the founding of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT) on March 20, 1970.
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FRENCH LANGUAGE DAY ACTIVITIES
For good reason, French is considered one of the most romantic languages. Determine by attempting it for yourself! There are an abundance of French language learning guides available online for practice. You can make this a community activity by challenging a friend to learn the language alongside you and comparing your proficiency in conversation.
Serve French food
Additionally, France is noted for its exquisite cuisine. Try your hand at cooking (and pronouncing) some of their most famous dishes. There’s soupe à l’oignon, cassoulet, chocolate soufflé, and more. If cooking isn’t your thing, you can visit an authentic French restaurant and spread the news via social media by posting pictures of your meal.
Join the conversation
As part of their UN75 initiative, the United Nations organizes dialogues around the globe to hear from diverse groups about their hopes, fears, and experiences. Participate in the discussion by offering your own viewpoints, or listen to other voices to acquire a deeper understanding of global perspectives.
5 FACTS ABOUT FRENCH LANGUAGE DAY
French was one of the first two official working languages of the United Nations.
The sixth most prevalent language on the internet is French.
French is one of the simplest languages for native English speakers to acquire.
French is not the most widely spoken language, but its usage is increasing rapidly.
French is a language spoken on five continents.
FRENCH LANGUAGE DAY DATES