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French (le français{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} [lə fʁɑ̃sɛ] or la langue française{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} [la lɑ̃ɡ fʁɑ̃sɛz]) is a Romance language, belonging to the Indo-European family. It descended from the spoken Latin language of the Roman Empire, as did languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Catalan and others. French has evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

French is the official language in 29 countries, most of which are members of la francophonie, the community of French-speaking countries. It is spoken as a first language in France, southern Belgium, western Switzerland, Monaco, certain parts of Canada and by various communities elsewhere. As of 2015, 40% of the francophone population (including L2 and partial speakers) is in Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Mideast, 8% in America, and 1% in Asia and Oceania.<ref name="OIF"/>

French is the second most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union.<ref name=OIF/> 1/5 of non-Francophone Europeans speak French.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> As a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 17th and 18th century onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Most second-language speakers reside in Francophone Africa, in particular Gabon, Algeria, Mauritius, Senegal and Ivory Coast.<ref name=2005_report> La Francophonie dans le monde 2006–2007 published by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Nathan, Paris, 2007.</ref> In 2015, French was estimated to have 77 to 110 million native speakers,<ref name=OIF/><ref name="Qu'est-ce que la Francophonie">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> and 190 million secondary speakers.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Approximately 270 million people are able to speak the language.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence universitaire de la francophonie, total French speakers will number approximately 500 million people in 2025 and 650 million people by 2050.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie estimates 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa.<ref name=OIF/>

French has a long history as an international language of commerce, diplomacy, literature, and scientific standards and is an official language of many international organisations including the United Nations, the European Union, NATO, the WTO, the International Olympic Committee, and the ICRC. In 2011, French was deemed by Bloomberg Businessweek to be one of the top three most useful languages for business, after English and Mandarin Chinese.<ref>Mandarin Chinese Most Useful Business Language After English John Lauerman, Aug 30, 2011, Bloomberg News</ref>


French language sections
Intro  Geographic distribution  Dialects  History   Current status and economic, cultural and institutional importance   Phonology  Writing system  Grammar  Vocabulary  Words  See also   Notes and references   Further reading  External links  

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