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14 October 2014
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French, Français

Related languages French hangs on the Gallo-Romance branch of the Indo-European family tree, and is most closely related to Occitan, Francoprovençal and Gascon.
European speakers 64,000,000 speakers
Territories In Europe, French is the official language in Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Monaco and Switzerland. Home speakers can be found in Italy. It is one of the official languages of the European Union.
Alphabet As a direct descendent of Latin, French unsurprisingly uses the Latin alphabet, and also uses the following accented vowels: é, è, à, â, ê, î, ô, û, ë. There is also ç and ï.
First examples A poem recounting the martyrdom of St Eulalia is the earliest French text in existence, and it dates from the 9th century AD.
Other facts The reason why French today is still sometimes called the 'langue d'oïl' stems from Roman times. In the old Roman province of Gaul, 'oc 'and 'oïl' were the 2 different ways of saying 'yes'. So the Gauls were divided into those in the north who spoke the 'langue d'oïl', and those in the south who spoke the 'langue d'oc'. The northern Gaul's way of speaking spread, although you can still hear modern Occitan in southern France.
News in French BBC World Service in French.
Would you like to find out more? Then have a look at our French language resources!

Key Phrases
Pleased to meet you.
Au revoir.
Thank you.
Je m'appelle ...
My name is ...
Parlez-vous anglais?
Do you speak English?
Je suis desolé(e), je ne parle pas français.
I'm sorry, I don't speak French.
J'ai besoin d'aide.
I need help.
Où sont les toilettes, s'il vous plaît?
Where is the toilet, please?

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