French is the language of France, Quebec, and several countries, mostly in Africa, that were former French colonies. French doesn't have a lot of native speakers--in terms of that, it doesn't even rank in the top 20. However, French is a fairly common second language, and is an official language in a lot of countries. English has borrowed a lot of words from French, but officially (although not individually), French is very stingy about borrowing from English. However, normal French people are more than happy to borrow and use English words.

French is a Romance language. Like Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and a few others, it evolved from Latin. All of these languages were simply dialects of Latin during the Roman Empire, and gradually changed into their present forms. Latin, in turn is (or was) one of the Italic languages, all of which, besides the decendants of Latin, are dead.

Italic, in turn, is part of Indo-European, along with Balto-Slavic (such Lithuanian and Russian), Celtic (such as Irish), Germanic (which includes English, German, and Swedish), Greek, Albanian, Indo-Iranian (which includes most of the languages of Iran, Pakistan, and northern India, and also the language of the Gypsies), and Armenian. Indo-European, along with several dead languages of Anotolia (modern-day Turkey), including Hittite, is part of a family called Indo-Hittite. Indo-Hittite and Indo-European are essentially the same, but the Anatolian languages seem not to be very different from the rest of Indo-European, so the the name Indo-Hittite is used to reflect that.

Indo-Hittite, in turn, may be part of a still larger family, called Eurasiatic (or sometimes called Nostratic). Eurasiatic also includes the families Uralic-Yukaghir (which includes Hungarian, Lapp, and Finnish), Altaic (which includes Turkish and Mongolian), Japanese and Korean (which are part of one family), Eskimo-Aleut, and a few other languages of Siberia.

I have a more detailed lineage of Eurasiatic, as well as for Indo-European/Hittite.

Disclaimer--All information on this page came from the top of my head. It should be accurate, however, there may be mistakes.
Back to Guide to World Languages.

Back to Languages and Linguistics.

Write me!
July 17, 1996