French language

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French is a Romance language that is a member of the Indo-European language family. It, like other Romance languages, evolved from Vulgar Latin, which was spoken throughout the Roman Empire. Gallo-Romance, the Latin language spoken in Gaul, and more particularly in Northern Gaul, was the ancestor of French. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oel, which are languages that were previously spoken in northern France and southern Belgium, but which were mostly replaced by French (Francien). Besides Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul, such as Gallia Belgica, French was also affected by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish conquerors, who came from the Low Countries. Today, as a result of France's historical overseas expansion, there are a plethora of creole languages based on French, the most notable of which being Haitian Creole. When referring to a French-speaking individual or country, the term "francophone" may be used in both English and French.

On several continents, French is the official language in 29 nations, the majority of which are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), a community of 84 countries that share the official use or teaching of French. French is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations, with English being the other. The following countries have it as a first language: France; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Algeria; Morocco; Canada (provinces of Québec, Ontario, and New Brunswick as well as other Francophone regions); Cameroon; Belgium (Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region); Ivory Coast; Tunisia; western Switzerland (Romandy—all or part of the cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel, Vaud, and Valais.