French language

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French is one of the Romance languages, spoken by more than 100 million people in France and several other countries, and official or administrative language in various communities and organizations (such as the European Union, CIO, United Nations and Universal Postal Union). French is an official language in the following countries:

French is also spoken in the following countries (although it's not an official language):

Although many Frenchmen like to refer to their descent from Gallic ancestors ("Nos ancêtres les gaulois"), very little Celtic influence seems to remain in the French of today. Most of the vocabulary is of Latin and Germanic ( Frankish) origin. Originally, many dialects and languages were spoken throughout France (among them were the various Occitan dialects), but over time the dialect of the Ile de France (the region around Paris), Francien, has supplanted the others and has become the basis for the official French language.

French spelling is by no means phonetic. Terminal consonants have often become silent unless followed by a vowel sound (liaison) or silent altogether (e.g., "et" is never pronounced with the ending "t."). In many words, the "n" and "m" becomes silent and causes the preceeding vowel to become nasalized (i.e., pronounced with the soft palate extended downward so as to cause the air to leave through the nostrils instead of through the mouth). Furthermore, French words tend to run together when spoken, with ending pronounced consonants often being chained to the next word.



Phonemes of French

Rounded


i y u

e 2 o

E 9 O

a A

E~9~o~

 ã


Note: /A/ is for many speakers no longer a phoneme. Whether /@/ (Schwa) is a phoneme of French is controversial. Some see it as an allophone of /9/

Plosives

/p, b/

/k, g/

/t, d/

Fricatives

/s, z/

/f, v/

/S, Z/

Nasals

/m, n, n_j/ For some speakers, /n_j/ is probably /n/ + /j/

Lateral

/l/

Vibrant

/r/ (Uvular trill)

Semi-vowel

/j/



See also: French phrases used by English speakers, Common phrases in different languages