Statuses of the French Language in the World

Vilhelmina Vitkauskienė, Violeta Samedy


The objective of this article is to make a sociolinguistic and descriptive analysis of the statuses of the French language in the world. We carried out a rich study of theoretical and historic works. Having presented the historic outline of the sociolinguistic phenomenon of the statuses of language as such and the statistical data, we made the descriptive analysis of the following statuses of French: that of the official language, the mother tongue, a language of teaching (of foreign language, second language), an international language, a language of employment, a language of culture, a language of daily usage.
Definitions of all statuses of the French language are given. Statistically it is difficult, if not impossible, to specify boundaries of home language status. The process of francophonie in one or another status of the French language directly and indirectly influences more than onethird of all world countries. This phenomenon confirms the claim that the French language becomes a primary world’s language of culture in all possible language statuses. Therefore, we assume that in the future French language should officially acquire and legally validate international status of the language of the world culture.
Our analysis showed us that at the moment, the status of official language can be applied: in countries or in regions as well as in numerous international organizations, such as the European Union, by example. French appears among both working languages of the UNO, as well as all its agencies. The French language is one of three working languages of the African Union (52 member countries), and one of two working languages of the European Union (with English). In the countries where French acquired the status of the official language, the co-official language or the administrative language, it is taught as a second language; where French has no official status, it is taught as a foreign language or as a language of culture. In the context of current globalization French should acquire a new dominant status that of the language of the world culture.


employment language; foreign language; language status; language of culture; international language; multilingualism; official language; second language

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236