The French language is spoken as a minority language in the United States. Roughly 2.07 million Americans over the age of five reported speaking the language at home in a federal 2010 estimate, making French the fourth most-spoken language in the nation behind English, Spanish, and Chinese (when Cajun, Haitian Creole and all other forms of French are included, and when Cantonese, Mandarin and other varieties of Chinese are similarly combined).
Several varieties of French evolved in what is now the United States:
More recently, French has also been carried to various parts of the nation via immigration from Francophone regions. Today, French is the second most spoken language (after English) in the states of Maine and Vermont, and the third most spoken (after English and Spanish) in the states of Louisiana, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
As a second language, French is the second most widely taught foreign language (after Spanish) in American schools, colleges and universities. While the overwhelming majority of Americans of French ancestry grew up speaking only English, some enroll their children in French heritage language classes.
Louisiana French is traditionally divided into three dialects, Colonial French, Louisiana Creole French, and Cajun French. Colonial French is traditionally said to have been the form of French spoken in the early days of settlement in the lower Mississippi River valley, and was once the language of the educated land-owning classes. Cajun French, derived from Acadian French, is said to have been introduced with the arrival of Acadian exiles in the 18th century. The Acadians, the francophone inhabitants of Acadia (modern Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and northern Maine), were expelled from their homeland between 1755 and 1763 by the British. Many Acadians settled in lower Louisiana, where they became known as Cajuns (a corruption of "Acadians"). Their dialect was regarded as the typical language of white lower classes, while Louisiana Creole French developed as the language of the black community. Today, most linguists regard Colonial French to have largely merged with Cajun, while Louisiana Creole remains a distinct variety.
Missouri French was spoken by the descendants of 17th-century French settlers in the Illinois Country, especially in the area of Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, and in Washington County. In the 1930s there were said to be about 600 French-speaking families in the Old Mines region between De Soto and Potosi. By the late 20th century the dialect was nearly extinct, with only a few elderly speakers able to use it. Similarly, Muskrat French is spoken in southeastern Michigan by descendants of habitants, voyageurs and coureurs des bois who settled in the Pays d'en Haut.
New England French, essentially a local variety of Canadian French, is spoken in parts of the New England states. This area has a legacy of significant immigration from Canada, especially during the 19th and the early 20th centuries. Some Americans of French heritage who have lost the language are currently attempting to revive it. Acadian French is also spoken by Acadians in Maine in the Saint John Valley.
Ernest F. Haden identifies the French of Frenchville, Pennsylvania as a distinct dialect of North American French. "While the French enclave of Frenchville, Pennsylvania first received attention in the late 1960s, the variety of French spoken has not been the subject of systematic linguistic study. Haden reports that the geographical origin of its settlers is central France, as was also the case of New Orleans, but with settlement being more recent (1830–1840). He also reports that in the 1960s French seemed to be on the verge of extinction in the state community."
Brayon French is spoken in the Beauce of Quebec; Edmundston, New Brunswick; and Madawaska, Maine mostly in Aroostook County, Maine. Although superficially a phonological descendant of Acadian French, analysis reveals it is morphosyntactically identical to Quebec French. It is believed to have resulted from a localized levelling of contact dialects between Québécois and Acadian settlers. Some of the Brayons view themselves as neither Acadian nor Québécois, affirming that they are a distinctive culture with a history and heritage linked to farming and forestry in the Madawaska area.
Canadian French spoken by French Canadian immigrants is also spoken by Canadian Americans and French Canadian Americans in United States across Little Canadas and in many cities of New England. French Canadians living in Canada express their cultural identity using a number of terms. The Ethnic Diversity Survey of the 2006 Canadian census found that French-speaking Canadians identified their ethnicity most often as French, French Canadians, Québécois, and Acadian. The latter three were grouped together by Jantzen (2006) as "French New World" ancestries because they originate in Canada. All these ancestries are represented among French Canadian Americans. Franco-Newfoundlanders speaking Newfoundland French, Franco-Ontarians, Franco-Manitobans, Fransaskois, Franco-Albertans, Franco-Columbians, Franco-Ténois, Franco-Yukonnais, Franco-Nunavois are part of the French Canadian Americans population and speaks their own form of French.
A total of 10,804,304 people claimed French ancestry in the 2010 census although other sources have recorded as many as 13 million people claiming this ancestry. Most French-speaking Americans are of this heritage, but there are also significant populations not of French descent who speak it as well, including those from Belgium, Switzerland, Haiti and numerous Francophone African countries.
In Florida, the city of Miami is home to a large Francophone community, consisting of French expatriates, Haitians (who may also speak Haitian Creole, a separate language which is derived partially from French), and French Canadians; there is also a growing community of Francophone Africans in and around Orlando and Tampa. A small but sustaining French community that originated in San Francisco during the Gold Rush and was supplemented by French wine-making immigrants to the Bay Area is centered culturally around that city's French Quarter.
Many retired individuals from Quebec have moved to Florida, or at least spend the winter there. Also, the many Canadians who travel to the Southeastern states in the winter and spring include a number of Francophones, mostly from Quebec but also from New Brunswick and Ontario. Quebecers and Acadians also tend to visit Louisiana, as Quebec and New Brunswick share a number of cultural ties with Louisiana.
Florida, California, New York, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Hawaii, and a few other popular resort regions (most notably Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, Maine and Cape May, New Jersey) are visited in large numbers by Québécois, during winter and summer vacations.
French has traditionally been the foreign language of choice for English-speakers across the globe. However, since 1968, French has ranked as the second-most-studied foreign language in the United States, behind Spanish. Some 1.2 million students from the elementary grades through high school were enrolled in French language courses in 2007-2008, or 14% of all students enrolled in foreign languages.
Many American universities offer French-language courses, and degree programs in the language are common. In the fall of 2016, 175,667 American university students were enrolled in French courses, or 12.4% of all foreign-language students and the second-highest total of any language (behind Spanish, with 712,240 students, or 50.2%).
French teaching is more important in private schools, but it is difficult to obtain accurate data because the optional status of languages. Indeed, the study of a foreign language is not required in all states for American students. Some states, however, including New York, Virginia and Georgia, require a minimum of two years of study of a foreign language.
|Town||State||Total population||% Francophone||No. Francophones|
|Town||State||Total population||% Francophone||No. Francophones|
|Saint John Plantation||ME||282||60%||169|
Note: speakers of French-based creole languages are not included in percentages.
|Parish/county||State||Total population||% Francophone||No. Francophones|
|St. Martin Parish||LA||48,583||27.4%||13,312|
|St. Landry Parish||LA||87,700||16.7%||14,646|
|Jefferson Davis Parish||LA||31,435||16.2%||5,092|
The survey, based on interviews, asked the following questions: "1) I would now like to ask you about your ethnic ancestry, heritage or background. What were the ethnic or cultural origins of your ancestors? 2) In addition to "Canadian", what were the other ethnic or cultural origins of your ancestors on first coming to North America?
American French (French: le français d'Amérique) is a collective term used for the varieties of the French language that are spoken in North America:
New England French
The Cajuns (; Louisiana French: les Cadiens [le kadʒɛ̃]), also known as Acadians (Louisiana French: les Acadiens [lez‿akadʒɛ̃]) are an ethnic group mainly living in the U.S. state of Louisiana, and in the Canadian maritimes provinces as well as Québec consisting in part of the descendants of the original Acadian exiles—French-speakers from Acadia (L'Acadie) in what are now the Maritimes of Eastern Canada. In Louisiana, Acadian and Cajun are often used as broad cultural terms without reference to actual descent from the deported Acadians. Today, the Cajuns make up a significant portion of south Louisiana's population and have exerted an enormous impact on the state's culture.While Lower Louisiana had been settled by French colonists since the late 17th century, the Cajuns trace their roots to the influx of Acadian settlers after the Great Expulsion from their homeland during the French and British hostilities prior to the Seven Years' War (1756 to 1763). The Acadia region to which modern Cajuns trace their origin consisted largely of what are now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island plus parts of eastern Quebec and northern Maine. Since their establishment in Louisiana, the Cajuns have developed their own dialect, Cajun French, and developed a vibrant culture including folkways, music, and cuisine. The Acadiana region is heavily associated with them.Canadian French
Canadian French (French: français canadien) is the French language spoken in Canada. It includes the the varieties of French used in Canada such as Quebec French. Formerly Canadian French referred solely to Quebec French and the closely related varieties of Ontario (Franco-Ontarian) and Western Canada—in contrast with Acadian French, which is spoken in some areas of eastern Quebec, New Brunswick (including the Chiac dialect), and some areas of Nova Scotia (including the dialect St. Marys Bay French). PEI and Newfoundland & Labrador have Newfoundland French.
In 2011, the total number of native French speakers in Canada was around 7.3 million (22% of the entire population), while another 2 million spoke it as a second language. At the federal level, it has official status alongside English. At the provincial level, French is the sole official language of Quebec as well as one of two official languages of New Brunswick, and jointly official (derived from its federal legal status) in Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Government services are offered in French at select localities in Manitoba and Ontario (through the French Language Services Act) and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the country, depending largely on the proximity to Quebec and/or French Canadian influence on any given region.
New England French (a dialect spoken in northern New England) is essentially a variety of Canadian French and exhibits no particular differences from the Canadian dialects, unlike Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole.Council for the Development of French in Louisiana
The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL; French: le Conseil pour le développement du français en Louisiane) is Louisiana's Office of Francophone Affairs (French: Agence des affaires francophones). It is a state agency whose multiple legislative mandates include developing opportunities to use the French language in tourism, economic development, culture, education and international relations. CODOFIL is governed by a board of 23 members and administratively placed within the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development's Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, overseen by the Lieutenant Governor. CODOFIL is the only state agency in the United States whose purpose is to serve a linguistic population.
Today, CODOFIL's role is to promote and support French immersion and French as a second language in education; it acts as a partner to the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), whose role is to manage Louisiana's school districts. CODOFIL continues to recruit and sponsor French, Belgian and Canadian associate teachers as per its accords with those countries, who are placed alongside local teachers upon LDOE's recommendation. CODOFIL encourages Louisiana Francophones to continue transmission of the state's heritage language via its scholarship program (providing opportunities for pedagogical advancement) and the Escadrille Louisiane program (which allows non-native speakers to perfect French at the Université de Rennes in exchange for a minimum 3-year teaching commitment of French in Louisiana).CODOFIL has also worked to instill pride all Louisiana Francophones in their linguistic identity rather than to uphold one variety of French language or another.French America
French America (French: Amérique française) is the French-speaking community of people and their diaspora, notably those tracing back origins to New France, the early French colonization of the Americas. The Canadian province of Quebec is the centre of the community and is the point of origin of most of French America. It also includes communities in all provinces of Canada (especially in New Brunswick, where francophones are roughly one third of the population), Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Haiti, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Lucia, Martinique, and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean; French Guiana (Overseas region of France) in South America. Also there are minorities of French speakers in part of the United States (New England, Louisiana, Florida), Dominica, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Ordre des francophones d’Amérique is a decoration given in the name of the community to its members. It can also be described as the Francophonie of the Americas.
Because French is a Romance language, French America is sometimes considered to be part of Latin America, but this term more often refers to Hispanic America and Portuguese America, or simply the Americas south of the United States.French Americans
French Americans (French: Franco-Américains) are citizens or nationals of the United States who identify themselves with having full or partial French (and minority French Canadian) heritage, ethnicity, and/or ancestral ties. Sometimes referred to as Franco-Americans, members of this group are also those who have declared allegiance either informally or formally to both France and the United States of America. People with dual citizenship of both France and the United States are commonly referred to as French-Americans.
As of January 2018, the largest population of French American people are in the state of Maine. The state is home to the largest French-speaking population in the country (Lewiston) and the largest concentration of people of French extraction (Madawaska). The second largest state housing French Americans is Louisiana. The largest French-speaking population (in terms of percentage of speakers) in the U.S. is found in St. Martin Parish.
Country-wide, there are about 10.4 million U.S. residents that declare French ancestry or French Canadian descent, and about 1.32 million speak French at home as of 2010 census. An additional 750,000 U.S. residents speak a French-based creole language, according to the 2011 American Community Survey.While Americans of French descent make up a substantial percentage of the American population, French Americans are arguably less visible than other similarly sized ethnic groups. This is due in part to tendency of French American groups to identify more closely with "New World" their regional identities such as Acadian, Brayon, Cajun, or Louisiana Creole rather as a one coherent group. This has inhibited the development of a unified French American identity as is the case with other European American ethnic groups.French language
French (le français [lə fʁɑ̃sɛ] (listen) or la langue française [la lɑ̃ɡ fʁɑ̃sɛːz]) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
French is an official language in 29 countries across multiple different continents, most of which are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the community of 84 countries which share the official use or teaching of French. It is spoken as a first language (in descending order of the number of speakers) in France, Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick as well as other Francophone regions, Belgium (Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region), western Switzerland (cantons of Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel, Vaud, Valais), Monaco, parts of the United States (Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont), partly in Luxembourg and in northern Italy (region of Aosta Valley), and by various communities elsewhere. In 2015, approximately 40% of the francophone population (including L2 and partial speakers) lived in Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Middle East, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia and Oceania. French is the fourth most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union, Of Europeans who speak other languages natively, approximately one-fifth are able to speak French as a second language. French is the second most taught foreign language in the EU. French is also the 18th most natively spoken language in the world, 6th most spoken language by total number of speakers and the second most studied language worldwide (with about 120 million current learners).As a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 16th century onward, French was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Most second-language speakers reside in Francophone Africa, in particular Gabon, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritius, Senegal and Ivory Coast.French is estimated to have about 76 million native speakers and about 235 million daily, fluent speakers and another 77 to 110 million secondary speakers who speak it as a second language to varying degrees of proficiency, mainly in Africa. According to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), approximately 300 million people worldwide are "able to speak the language", without specifying the criteria for this estimation or whom it encompasses. According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence universitaire de la francophonie, the total number of French speakers will reach approximately 500 million in 2025 and 650 million by 2050. OIF estimates 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa.French has a long history as an international language of literature and scientific standards and is a primary or second language of many international organisations including the United Nations, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked French the third most useful language for business, after English and Standard Mandarin Chinese.French language in Minnesota
The French language has been spoken in modern-day Minnesota since the 17th century, being the first European language to be brought to the area.Frenchville French
Frenchville French is a dialect of the French language spoken in Frenchville, Pennsylvania, United States. Frenchville is a small community of Covoington Township in Clearfield County. This language was the subject of fieldwork by Barbara Bullock, the co-author of a range of journal articles relating to phonological patterns observed in French dialects.German language in the United States
Over 50 million Americans claim German ancestry, which makes them the largest single claimed ethnic group in the United States. Around 1.06 million people in the United States speak the German language. It is the second most spoken language in North Dakota. In 16 states, it is the most spoken language other than English and Spanish.Haitian French
Haitian French (French: français haïtien, Haitian Creole: fransè ayisyen) is the variety of French spoken in Haiti. Haitian French is close to standard French. It should be distinguished from Haitian Creole.Languages of North America
The languages of North America reflect not only that continent's indigenous peoples, but the European colonization as well. The most widely spoken languages in North America (which includes Central America and the Caribbean islands) are English, Spanish, and to a lesser extent French, and, especially in the Caribbean, creole languages lexified by them.Langues d'oïl
The langues d'oïl ( French: [lɑ̃ɡdɔjl], English: oïl languages) are a dialect continuum that includes standard French and its closest autochthonous relatives historically spoken in the northern half of France, southern Belgium, and the Channel Islands. These belong to the larger Gallo-Romance languages, which also include the historical languages of east-central France and western Switzerland (Arpitania), southern France (Occitania), portions of northern Italy, and the Val d'Aran in Spain.
Linguists divide the Romance languages of France, and especially of Medieval France, into three geographical subgroups: the first two are Langues d'oïl and occitan, both named after their words for 'yes' (oïl and òc, respectively), and the third is Franco-Provençal (Arpitan).List of Louisiana parishes by French-speaking population
The list of Louisiana parishes by French-speaking population was created from the 2000 Census of the United States. Census collects data on languages spoken at home by inhabitants of Louisiana five years of age or more. Responses "French" and "Cajun" are included.
Statewide, out of a population 5 years and older of 4,152,122, some 179,750 people reported French as their home language, while 14,365 reported "Cajun". A further 4,465 who reported French Creole are not counted below.
According to the 2010 US Census, there was a huge decline in the number of French speakers in Louisiana. It now stands at 115,183 which equates to 2.8% of the state population.Louisiana French
Louisiana French (French: français de la Louisiane, Louisiana Creole: françé la lwizyàn) refers to the complex of dialects and varieties of the French language spoken traditionally in colonial Lower Louisiana. As of today Louisiana French is primarily used in the U.S. state of Louisiana, specifically in the southern parishes, though substantial minorities exist in southeast Texas as well. Over the centuries, the language has incorporated some words of African, Spanish, Native American and English origin, sometimes giving it linguistic features found only in Louisiana, Louisiana French differs to varying extents from French dialects spoken in other regions, but Louisiana French is mutually intelligible with all other dialects and particularly with those of Missouri, New England, Canada and northwestern France. Many famous books, such as « Les Cenelles », a poetry anthology compiled by a group of gens de couleur libres, and « Pouponne et Balthazar », a novel written by French Creole Sidonie de la Houssaye, are in standard French. It is a misconception that no one in Louisiana spoke or wrote Standard French. Figures from the United States Census record that roughly 3.5% of Louisianans over the age of 5 report speaking French or a French-based creole at home. Distribution of these speakers is uneven, however, with the majority residing in the south-central region known as Acadiana. Some of the Acadiana parishes register francophone populations of 10% or more of the total, with a select few (such as Vermilion, Evangeline and St. Martin Parishes) exceeding 15%.
The language is spoken across ethnic and racial lines by people who identify as Cajun or Louisiana Creole as well as Chitimacha, Houma, Biloxi, Tunica, Choctaw, Acadian, and French among others. For these reasons, as well as the relatively small influence Acadian French has had on the language, the label Louisiana French or Louisiana Regional French is generally regarded as more accurate and inclusive than "Cajun French" and is preferred term by linguists and anthropologists. However, "Cajun French" is commonly used in lay discourse by speakers of the language and other inhabitants of Louisiana.Louisiana French should further not be confused with Louisiana Creole, a distinct French-based creole language indigenous to Louisiana and spoken across racial lines. In Louisiana, language labels are often conflated with ethnic labels. For example, a speaker who identifies as Cajun may call their language "Cajun French", though linguists would identify it as Louisiana Creole. Likewise, many Louisiana Creole people of all ethnicities (including Cajuns, who are themselves technically Creoles of Acadian descent, although most do not identify as such) do not speak Louisiana Creole, instead speaking Louisiana French.
Parishes in which the dialect is still found include but are not limited to Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Cameron, Evangeline, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Pointe Coupée, Vermillion, and other parishes of southern Louisiana.Madawaska, Maine
Madawaska is a town in Aroostook County, Maine, United States. The population was 4,035 at the 2010 census. Madawaska is opposite Edmundston, Madawaska County in New Brunswick, Canada, to which it is connected by the Edmundston-Madawaska Bridge over the Saint John River. The majority of its residents speak French; 83.4% of the population speak French at home. Home of a large annual Acadian festival, Madawaska is the northernmost town in New England.Missouri French
Missouri French (French: français du Missouri) or Illinois Country French (French: français du Pays des Illinois) also known as français vincennois, Cahok and nicknamed "Paw-Paw French" often by individuals mainly outside the community but not exclusively, is a variety of the French language formerly spoken in the upper Mississippi River Valley in the Midwestern United States, particularly in eastern Missouri. The language is one of the major varieties of French that developed in the United States and at one point was widely spoken in areas of Bonne Terre, Valles Mines, Desloge, De Soto, Ste. Genevieve, Old Mines, Saint Louis, Richwoods, Prairie du Rocher, Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Vincennes as well as several other locations. Speakers of Missouri French may call themselves "créoles" as they are descendants of the early French settlers of Illinois Country.
Today the dialect is highly endangered, with only a few elderly native speakers. It is thought that any remaining speakers live in or around Old Mines, Missouri.Muskrat French
The Muskrat French (also known as the Detroit River French Canadians) are an ethnic group and language found along the Detroit River and around Lake St. Clair in southeastern Michigan and southwestern Ontario. Like many Franco-Ontarians, this group is characterized by a common history as descendants of the area's earliest European habitants, voyageurs, and coureurs des bois who settled in the Pays d'en Haut, often forming relationships with local Native American women. Their name comes from their tradition of eating muskrat during Lent due to a special dispensation by the bishop.New England French
New England French (French: français de Nouvelle-Angleterre) is a variety of Canadian French spoken in the New England region of the United States.New England French is one of the major forms of the French language that developed in what is now the United States, the others being Louisiana French and the nearly extinct Missouri French, Muskrat French and Métis French.
The dialect is the predominant form of French spoken in New England (apart from standard French), except in the Saint John Valley of northern Aroostook County, Maine, where Acadian French predominates.
The dialect is endangered, but its use is supported by bilingual education programs in place since 1987.
Languages in italics are extinct.
(number of speakers
in 2010 in millions)
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