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Lingustic Dynamics Of French Essay

1510 words - 7 pages

Spoken on all five continents French is considered to be a world language (Ball, 1997).1 With over 220 million French speakers across the globe, French is ranked the sixth most widely spoken language after Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic.2 It is also regarded as an international language of reference, being one of the working languages of the United Nations as well as the sole language used for the deliberations of the Court of Justice of the European Union. 2 Furthermore it holds official status in 28 countries. It is important to mention that this ‘world language’ status is not a recent phenomenon.3 The rich historic past of the French language saw French spread from Northern France to England during the 1066 Conquest; to the Middle East after the Crusades and from the seventeenth century onwards to North America, Indian Ocean, Oceania, Asia and Africa during the development of overseas trading-posts and colonisation (Battye et al., 1992).4 Focusing on Northern Africa and North America, in particular French speaking Canada, this essay will aim to discuss through comparison the sociolinguistic situation of the French language by considering the linguistic dynamic in which French operates and historical, political, social and cultural questions.
Firstly we must look at the linguistic dynamic in which French operates in North America and Northern Africa. In North America, Canada is the largest community of francophones outside of France. With a population of 28.1 million, more than 9 million Canadians speak the French language, of which 25 percent are native speakers (L1) and 11 percent are second language speakers (L 2). The geographical distribution of francophones is not even, mostly concentrated in the regions of Quebec and New Brunswick. In Canada French is an official language alongside English. This allows the French language to operate an important role within government, private sector and family. For example in Quebec, the largest community of first language French speakers in Canada every person has a right to communicate with the civil, administration, health services and social services in French. Furthermore In court, workplace and social services and classroom every person has a right to communicate in French. In short in French speaking Canada French operates as the main language used. In comparison in the countries of the Maghreb, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco in Northern Africa the French Language holds a less welcomed role due to the fact that Standard Arabic is the official language of all states. French is a second language, a vernacular language of The Maghreb with only 00% speaking French at L1. Unlike Canada’s relationship with English Arabic holds a significant cultural presence over the people of the Maghreb and they do not want to lose it to French however for many, French represents an essential link with the modern, secular world. French usage in the three Magrheb states is commonly linked with...

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