French, Africa

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Summary

French ( or ) is a Romance language, belonging to the Indo-European family that is an official language in 29 countries, most of which form la francophonie (in French), the community of French-speaking countries. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and of a large number of international organizations, including the European Union, NATO, WTO, and the ICRC. In 2011, French was deemed by Bloomberg Businessweek to be one of the top three mos

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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 countries can speak French as either a first or a second language. This number does not include the people living in non-Francophone African countries who have learned French as a foreign language. Due to the rise of French in Africa, the total French-speaking population worldwide is expected to reach 700 million people in 2050.

French is mostly a second language in Africa, but it has become a first language in some urban areas, such as the region of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and in Libreville, Gabon. French is also becoming a first language in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The classification of French as a second language in Francophone Africa is debatable because it is often the only language spoken and written in schools, administration, radio, television and the Internet; for many Africans, it is the only language in which they know how to read and write fluently. The following thirteen countries use French exclusively to teach school: Bénin, Burkina Faso, Centrafrique, Congo, Congo (République démocratique du), Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinée, Mali, Niger, Sénégal, Tchad and Togo. The prevalence of the language is noticeable in popular music, in which French is often mixed with various indigenous languages. There is not a single African French, but multiple forms that diverged through contact with various indigenous African languages. In fact, the term African French is a misnomer, as forms are different from country to country, and the root of the French spoken in a particular country depends on its former colonial empire. French spoken in Benin, for example, is closer to that spoken in France than to French spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is chiefly derived from Belgian French.

In the territories of the Indian Ocean, the French language is often spoken alongside French-derived creole languages, the major exception being Madagascar. There, a Malayo-Polynesian language (Malagasy) is spoken alongside French.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region where the French language is most likely to expand, because of the expansion of education and rapid population growth. It is also where the language has evolved the most in recent years. Some vernacular forms of French in Africa can be difficult to understand for French speakers from other countries, but written forms of the language are very closely related to those of the rest of the French-speaking world.

French is an official language in the following African countries, most of them former French or Belgian colonies:

  • (former colony of Spain)

In addition, French is an administrative language and widely used, though not on an official basis, in Mauritius, where approximately 78% of the population speak French. French is also spoken in the Maghreb states:

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External Links

  • WikipediaFondation Alliance françaiseAgence de promotion du FLEFrançais interactifTex's French GrammarFree online French grammarLearn French at AboutFrench lessons at Wikiotics

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