Happy UN French Language Day!

La Francophonie image

As today, 20 March, marks the UN’s International Francophonie Day, we’re celebrating this wonderful language’s rich history and exciting future!

Francophonie itself is a loosely united group of nations in which French is a “first, official, or culturally significant” language, currently home to 88 member states. Recognised by the United Nations, La Francophonie is a serious player on the world stage.

For centuries  the working language of diplomacy and the great European courts, despite today’s challenges French continues to play a pivotal role globally. Used on five continents, French remains the 5th most spoken language in the world, with over 321 million speakers of which 255 million do so daily according to the International Organisation of La Francophonie.

Its vibrancy and diversity are brought to life in the Dictionnaire des francophones, a collaborative dictionary bringing together over 480 thousand terms and expressions from no less than 52 countries. Now THAT is cultural diversity!

The appeal of learning and speaking French has never wavered, the language of Molière and Zola today being learned by over 140 million worldwide. It’s easy to see why – on a cultural and economic scale, the French-speaking world occupies a prime position representing 3% of global GDP and 6% of jobs. No wonder so many want to be part of it!

In the digital world however, French is sadly lagging. Despite being the 2nd most digitally-globalised language in the world, American dominance of the digital space means French trails far behind English as the web’s lingua franca.

Even in France herself, English seems omnipresent on the web – unsurprising, since the web’s algorithms seem intended to more than ever prioritise English-language content. Far from accepting defeat however, in 2021 the International Organisation of La Francophonie published its Stratégie de la Francophonie numérique 2022-2026 (Digital strategy for Francophonie 2022-2026 and only available in French, for obvious reasons…), working to heal this digital divide and create more space in the digital world for the French-speaking population. With French one of our most popular languages, we wish them every success!

Did you know…?

The date of the United Nation’s French Language Day was chosen in reference to 20 March 1970, the founding date of the Agence de coopération culturelle et technique (Agency of cultural and technical cooperation – ACCT) – today known to us as the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).