Local name: Français
Language family: Indo-European > Italic > Romance > Italo-Western > Western > Gallo-Iberian > Gallo-Romance > Gallo-Rhaetian > Oïl
Native speakers: ~ 68 millions (Ethnologue.com, 2005)
Script: The Latin alphabet with diacritics
Official in: Congo-Kinshasa, France, Canada, Madagascar, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Rwanda, Belgium, Guinea, Chad, Haiti, Burundi, Benin, Switzerland, Togo, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Djibouti, Luxembourg, Vanuatu, Seychelles, Monaco
Spoken mostly in: France, Canada (esp. Québec), Belgium (esp. Wallonia & Brussels), Switzerland (esp. western), USA, Monaco

French belongs to the Romance languages, with other words it is a daughter language of Latin and a sister language to e.g. Spanish and Portuguese. The area where French is spoken was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people, which to a great extent underwent language change to the form of Latin that was going to evolve as French. Not without leaving vocabulary traces behind. Later, the Germanic tribe of the Franks invaded the area, and even if also they changed their language, they had an influence on the language in terms of vocabulary, morphology and syntax.

French developed from the dialects spoken in the north of what is now France, and spread from there. In 1634, Académie Française, an institution for the French language, was founded. In this period, French was the language of the European nobility, and you can still find lots of French loanwords in other European language, especially in culturally refined domains.

Standard French: “Le Vent du Nord et le Soleil”
Speaker: Barzin Age at recording: 18 (2010) Geographical reference: Cherbourg-Octeville, FR (Google Map)

Le Vent du Nord et le Soleil se disputaient sur qui était le plus fort des deux, lorsqu’un voyageur arriva, enveloppé dans un manteau bien chaud.
Ils se mirent d’accord sur le fait que le premier qui arriverait à faire ôter le manteau du voyageur serait considéré comme le plus fort.
Le Vent du Nord souffla donc aussi fort qu’il pouvait, mais plus il souffla, plus le voyageur resserra son manteau autour de lui, contraignant le Vent du Nord à renoncer. Puis le Soleil brilla de plus belle, obligeant le voyageur à ôter son manteau.
C'est ainsi que le Vent du Nord fût contraint de reconnaître que le Soleil était le plus fort des deux.