Understanding The French Language & Providing Professional French Interpreters, Translators and Transcriptionists
American Language Services (ALS) understands the importance of working in the French language. For over a Quarter of a Century, American Language Services has worked with the French language as well as hundreds of others from around the world. We offer comprehensive language services 24 hours, 7 days a week worldwide by providing French interpreting, translation and transcriptions services along with hundreds of other languages and dialects. Our linguists are native speakers and writers who are screened, credentialed, certified, field tested and experienced in a number of specific industry settings. The French language is unique and has very specific origins and characteristics.
The Spread of the French Language
French is spoken all over the world from Europe, Africa, and Asia to the Pacific and the Americas. Along with Spanish, French is also a romance language. Most native speakers of the language live in France where the language originated. The romanticism engraved in this language has awakened the interests of many nations to learn it. It is an official language in 29 countries and the official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations. This community of French-speaking nations is called La Francophonie by the French. This language is the third most spoken second language in the Union, second to English and German. In addition, prior to the ascension of English in the early 20th century, French served as the preeminent language of diplomacy among European and colonial powers. According to the Constitution of France, French has been the official language since 1992. France mandates the use of French in official government publications, public education outside of specific cases and legal contracts. French is the official language in Belgium, one of four official languages in Switzerland, an official language in Italy, Luxembourg, The Channel Islands, the America and all over the world. A majority of the world's French-speaking population lives in Africa. According to the 2007 report by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, an estimated 115 million African people spread across 31 francophone African countries can speak French either as a first or second language. French is mostly a second language in Africa, but in some areas it has become a first language, such as in the region of Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire and in Libreville, Gabon. French is a language shared by many cultures and each culture has developed its own dialect in their region.
Origin of French
French originated from the Latin language of the Roman Empire. Its development was also influenced by the native Celtic languages of Roman Gaul and by the Germanic language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Before the Roman conquest of what is now modern-day France by Julius Caesar, France was inhabited largely by a Celtic population known as Gauls by the Romans. There were also other linguistic and ethnic groups in France at this time such as Iberians, the Ligures, and Greeks. Although the French often refer to their descent from Gallic ancestors, their language bears few traces of Gaulish. It should be noted that other Gallic words were imported in French through Latin, in particular words for Gallic objects and customs which were new to the Romans and for which there were no equivalent in Latin. Latin quickly became a common language across the entire Gallic region for mercantile, official and educational reasons, yet it should be remembered that this was vulgar Latin.
The Development of the French Language
Although there are many French regional accents, only one version of the language is normally chosen as a model for foreign learners, which has no commonly used special name. French pronunciation follows strict rules based on spelling, but French spelling is often based more on history than phonology. The rules for pronunciation vary between dialects. French is written using the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, plus five diacritics and the two ligatures oe and ae. French spelling, like English spelling, tends to preserve obsolete pronunciation rules. This is mainly due to extreme phonetic changes since the Old French period, without a corresponding change in spelling. As a result, it is difficult to predict the spelling on the basis of the sound alone. Final consonants are generally silent. French grammar shares several notable features with most other Romance languages. The majority of French words are derived from Vulgar Latin or were constructed from Latin or Greek roots. There are often pairs of words, one form being "popular" (noun) and the other one "savant" (adjective), both originating from Latin. Through the Académie, public education, centuries of official control and the role of media, a unified official French language has been forged, but there remains a great deal of diversity today in terms of regional accents and words. There has been French emigration to the United States, Australia and South America, but the descendants of these immigrants have assimilated to the point that few of them still speak French. In the United States, efforts are ongoing in Louisiana and parts of New England to preserve the language.
Who are You Going to Trust with Your Vital French Language Needs?
The French language is an important language worldwide. It is vital to understand the general nature and specific idiosyncrasies of French. Since 1985, ALS has provided outstanding French interpreters, translators and transcriptionsts worldwide.
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