For those of us who grew up in places with practically no French speakers, it’s easy to think that the importance of the French language waned with its empire. The French government is eager to debarrass us of this idea, and has produced this dignified and official-looking infographic for this purpose. I was particularly surprised to learn that French is the only language apart from English that is spoken on all continents, and that it’s the 4th most used language on the internet.
Now I should like to take this opportunity to go on a slight tangent. I intended to start this blurb by talking about how “lingua franca” came to mean “common language” because French was so widespread, but it turns out that that’s not true! The “franca” part comes from Greek and Arabic words, not from French. The term originally referred to a simplified version of Italian used by traders and diplomats in the Mediterranean, not French, as I thought.
If you’re interested in languages, why not step outside of the box and learn about the history of programming languages.