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Old November 23rd, 2012, 02:14 AM   #1

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How did French become a lingua franca?


After seeing how culturally and linguistically divided France was prior to, and even following the revolution, the question regarding French language status comes up. How did this happen?
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 04:23 AM   #2

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Relatively speaking from very early on the kings of France did their best to exert their power and keep a much more centralised government of the vast but culturally and linguistical divided area than any of their European counterparts at the time. This meant that they also managed to become a great power, the great power, in Europe centuries before any real contenders showed up, and of course this position earned French its position as a Lingua Franca.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 07:18 AM   #3
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Gotta remember that Italy was divided, Germany was divided, when the decline of Latin, French was the largest centralized, prestigious Kingdom, developed a court/nobility culture.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 07:27 AM   #4
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I have one word for you - Napoleon.

Why do you think English is so widespread now? Because it is an awesome language? No!
Because England used to rule a lot of territory and now USA.

Same thing to the French language.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 07:30 AM   #5

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I suspect Jake's question relates to the French language within France. Even at the time of the revolution, I seem to recall that most people within the area now known as France did not speak French, but spoke various regional languages.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 08:12 AM   #6
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Louis XIV. The period is not called "le Grand Siècle" in French history for nothing.

And the sheer size of France and the French population certainly helped. If you want to understand the scale of French influence, keep in mind that if France had kept the relative demographic size it occupied in Europe by the time of Napoleon until today, then France would be a 200 million beast of a country. It was even bigger in the 17th c.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:12 PM   #7

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Lingua Franca is Latin for French Language. I don't see how French can't be Lingua Franca.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:38 PM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeisSaul View Post
Lingua Franca is Latin for French Language. I don't see how French can't be Lingua Franca.
Actually the original meaning of Lingua Franca is the language of the Franks, i.e. White Westerners, and was the pidgin tongue spoken for trade in the Eastern Mediterranean--just to confuse matters it was 80% Italian with bits of Provencal, Arabic, Turkish and Greek.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:53 PM   #9

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Well, I'm asking from the point of view of a modern definition.

Quote:
Definition
a language which is used for communication between groups of people who speak different languages but which is not used between members of the same group
The international business community sees English as a lingua franca
lingua franca noun - definition in British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionary Online

And, it was even the case before Napoleon began building his empire that French was considered the language of the elite even outside of France.

It makes sense that this happened if, as Pugsville said, other countries such as Italy and Germany were divided and France was the largest kingdom.

Overall, Europe seems to have been ripe for the picking of another strong power, since the nations were so divided. I guess that explains the success of the Vikings somewhat.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:55 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gudenrath View Post
Relatively speaking from very early on the kings of France did their best to exert their power and keep a much more centralised government of the vast but culturally and linguistical divided area than any of their European counterparts at the time. This meant that they also managed to become a great power, the great power, in Europe centuries before any real contenders showed up, and of course this position earned French its position as a Lingua Franca.
This is quite remarkable, given all the infighting and prejudice within the country.
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