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About French

French is spoken by over 200 million people world-wide, making it the ninth most common language in the world. It is an official language in around 30 countries from Haiti to Vietnam, as well as France of course.

France has played a huge role in the cultural development of the world, with many major philosophers, authors, playwrights and opera composers all writing in French.

Leading French philosophers include Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean-Paul Sartre. Classic literature originally written in French includes Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, Candide by Voltaire, plus anything by Emile Zola or Albert Camus. The most famous French opera is probably Carmen by Bizet (despite being set in Spain), followed by the Damnation of Faust by Berlioz and Pelleas et Melisande by Debussy.

Itself influenced by Latin, the French language has been a major influence on other languages, not least English, being the language of high society at several periods in English history. Words such as menu, bouquet, genre and restaurant are all lifted directly from French, with hundreds of other words being derived from French words, e.g. lake from the French 'lac', or chamber from the French 'chambre'.

The entries in the four sections of Frazebook for French give, as with the other languages, some basic greetings in French, taking things further, buying some simple food and numbers. It is worth noting that French uses different forms depending on whether or not you are talking to someone you know well - the formal forms, e.g. 'Comment allez-vous?' are used to be polite when you don't know someone well, with informal forms, e.g. 'Comment vas-tu?' only used when you know someone well, the general rule being 'vous' for polite and 'tu' for informal. Another point to note, perhaps not overly important in the simple phrases on the site but worth remembering for the future is that French has two genders, i.e. two words for 'a' and 'the' which need to be learnt for each word.

The phrases given in Frazebook are just a start of course. We hope that you will enjoy learning them if you plan to visit France or any of the countries that speak French and that they may be the start of learning the language in more depth as time goes by.