Regional Languages of France
There are several regional languages spoken in France, including Basque, Catalan, Corsican, Breton, Alsatian, Occitan, and Franco-Provençal. While these languages are not official languages of the country, they are recognized by the French government. The number of speakers varies from region to region, with estimates as high as 2 million speakers for Alsatian (a German dialect) and nearly 4 million for Occitan (a Romance language). Despite the many varieties of French that exist, Standard French is often considered to be a de facto national language. It is the variety most commonly used in public life, education, business, and media outlets.
Standard French also serves as the official administrative language for about 20 percent of Francophone communities worldwide. Additionally, there are significant populations of French speakers outside of France due to the expansion of European languages and colonialism into North America, Africa, and Asia. For example, African countries such as Burkina Faso and Madagascar have hundreds of thousands who speak French as their first or second common language. In Canada alone, there are more than one million people who speak French fluently, which includes 200 different indigenous languages like Cree, Innuite/Montagnais, and Ojibway.
Other Foreign Languages of France
In addition to French, which is the official language of France, there are several other languages spoken in the country. These include German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. The amount of speakers varies from area to area. In some regions, such as Alsace-Lorraine, these languages have been spoken for centuries. In others, they were introduced after World War II by immigrants who settled in that region. There are also regional dialects of French. For example, Breton is a Celtic language that has had a strong presence in Brittany since around 600 A.D., though it has never had much use outside this region. Corsican is another example; an isolated Romance language is spoken on Corsica off the coast of Italy. Occitan was once used widely across southern France and northern Spain, but today it only exists in small pockets in the Midi.