French Language Day at the UN
Who: Emilie Villeneuve
Today, we celebrate the French language and culture in recognition of French Language Day at the United Nations.
In celebration of multilingualism, the United Nations (UN) has devoted specific days to the six official languages of the organization. Since 2010, March 20th has been chosen as French Language Day in reference to the creation of the Agency of Cultural and Technical Cooperation on March 20th, 1970, which is the forerunner to what is now the International Organization of la Francophonie.
To celebrate this day, ISI Language Solutions has asked an in-house native speaker to provide a little information regarding interesting facts and idiosyncrasies most people wouldn’t know. Today, we talked to Emilie Villeneuve, our CEO at ISI Language Solutions.
ISI: What are some interesting facts most people do not realize about the French language?
• According to the Rutgers Camden College of Arts and Sciences, over 275 million people speak French in the
• It is the only language aside from English to be spoken on all five continents.
• At the beginning of the 21st century, French was an official language of more than 25 countries.
• The United Nations, and many other international organizations such as the International Red Cross, Doctors
Without Borders and Amnesty International use French as a working language.
ISI: How has French influenced English?
Emilie: About 45% of modern English words are of French origin. After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, French became the language of the aristocracy and administration, which resulted in a great number of French words and expressions being incorporated into English. Over the centuries, French remained a major language influencing modern English.
A few words you use in English from French origin:
• Déjà vu
• En route
• Joie de vivre
• A propos
• Bon voyage
• Hors d’oeuvre
• Je ne sais quoi
ISI: What is the longest word in French?
Emilie: Anticonstitutionnellement which translates to anti-constitutionally.
ISI: What is something odd about the French language that non-Native speakers may not realize?
Emilie: You will only see the letter “W” in the French language if it’s a foreign word.
ISI: What word best summarizes French culture?
Emilie: There is a word to describe one of the favorite past times of a Francophone, to eat and appreciate good food and drink is to gourmandise!
ISI: What is an interesting phrase that we do not have in English?
Emilie: Chanter en yaourt, which is an expression for someone singing in another language and getting the words wrong or replacing the words with noise. It translates into English as ‘singing in yogurt’. We’ve all done it, but we didn’t know there was a word for it!
Thank you, Emilie! Now she doesn’t know we are going to do this, but one can’t really appreciate the French language without hearing it sung.
Have a SUPER French language day!