• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Will French be the most spoken tongue by 2050?

Ben McPartland · 26 Mar 2014, 11:02

Published: 26 Mar 2014 11:02 GMT+01:00

The French language has taken a back seat in recent years due to the continued dominance of English but a recent study by French bank Natixis suggests the tide could soon turn.  

Natixis's study concludes that by 2050 French could be the world’s most spoken language with a potential 750 million people speaking the language of Moliere.

That’s a big jump compared to the 220 million French speakers in the world in 2010.

The study puts the huge rise of French speakers down to the surge in population of sub Saharan Africa, one of the fastest growing regions of the world, and where French is the offical national language of many countries.

Needless to say the study has caused a bit of a stir in France and beyond, but many are skeptical that Natixis’s conclusions will come true.

In an interview with Challenges magazine Alexandre Wolff from the Observatory of the French Language, suggested that English will retain its hegemony.

“In reality English will remain the most used language in the world by 2050. But on the other hand it is possible [for French] to achieve such a result if we just take into account the inhabitants of countries where French is the official language.

“This concerns 32 states where French is the official language and here the projections are indeed impressive, but they do not take into account the coexistence of languages, which is the reality in many countries,” Wolff said.

“Many countries have several official languages, like Belgium, while in African countries, French may the official national language, but not the most spoken,” he added.

Writing on his blog for Forbes magazine Pascal Emmanuel Gabry doubted the study’s conclusion but stressed that the French language was indeed on the rise.

“The point still stands: French is still a fast-growing, global language,” Gabry wrote.

Story continues below…

“The other mooted language of the future, Mandarin, despite being excruciatingly hard to learn for most Westerners, will probably not be that given China’s certain demographic slide.

“Meanwhile, French will be present on all continents, and particularly predominant in a continent that, by 2050, should be a fast-growing economic powerhouse–Africa.”

Gabry concluded that “If you were to pick a language of the future, you could do a lot worse.”

So don’t give up those French lessons just yet.

For more news from France, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
A French ministry for women, kids, cooking and cleaning?
Photo:AFP

A French ministry for women, kids, cooking and cleaning?
9 minutes ago

You might as well have a ministry for "women, kids, cooking and cleaning", angry French feminists tell the government after the latest reshuffle.

Facebook vs France
Facebook vagina row will be settled in France, court says
THe Gustave Courbet painting "The Origin of the World" Is it art or pornography? Photo: AFP

Facebook vagina row will be settled in France, court says
1 hour ago

A huge row over the posting on Facebook of a famous painting of a vagina will be thrashed out in a French court after a landmark ruling on Friday.

IN IMAGES: Bordeaux floods after heavy rain in south west
Photo: Laure Urbano/twitter

IN IMAGES: Bordeaux floods after heavy rain in south west
2 hours ago

See what happens when the mighty Garonne river bursts its banks in Bordeaux on Friday.

France fires warning to Britain over eurozone veto
David Cameron and Francois Hollande. Photo: AFP

France fires warning to Britain over eurozone veto
4 hours ago

France warned Britain on Friday it could not expect to win veto powers over closer integration of the eurozone single currency area in talks on its own future in the EU.

Revealed: The real romantic spots in Paris
Photo: Flickr/Damien Roué

Revealed: The real romantic spots in Paris
4 hours ago

If you had to pick the most romantic spot in Paris, which would it be? See what a group of Paris-based writers went for when we asked them.

France says it's time to move migrants from Calais camp
Photo: AFP

France says it's time to move migrants from Calais camp
5 hours ago

France says "the time has come" to evacuate around half of the jungle migrant camp in Calais

Valentine's Day no-go zones
Paris: The no-go zones for singles on Valentine's Day
"Love is dead". How should singles approach Paris? Photo: Shutterstock

Paris: The no-go zones for singles on Valentine's Day
5 hours ago

Paris is going to be overrun with smooching couples this weekend, so if you're single you need to know where to avoid.

Paris attacks
DNA tests suggest unknown Paris attacker still at large

DNA tests suggest unknown Paris attacker still at large
7 hours ago

Up until now everyone presumed the suicide bomb vest dumped in a bin to the south of Paris was that of France's public enemy number one Salah Abdeslam. But DNA tests suggest an unidentified terrorist is at large.

VIDEO
See what became of this idyllic Normandy tourist resort
Photo: Andia & Alpaca Productions

See what became of this idyllic Normandy tourist resort
8 hours ago

It was meant to be a series of beachside villas and a resort - so how did it become a ghost village where street-artists have taken over?

Hollande: It's time to make labour market more flexible
Photo: AFP

Hollande: It's time to make labour market more flexible
8 hours ago

The French president says France is going to follow the Nordic labour market model of "flexisecurity", as he runs out of time to fix the country’s jobs crisis.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
Gallery
Ten expat complaints about their French lovers
Sponsored Article
Back to Boho chic: Win your new season wardrobe
Gallery
French expressions for having sex you won't find in your dictionary
What happened to liberté, égalité, fraternité in France?
'France just isn't what it was and it needs guns,' says Donald Trump
Features
Notre-Dame-des-Landes: Does France really need a new airport?
National
France's deadliest coach crashes since 1973
Business & Money
Champagne and cognac lead record French alcohol exports
Politics
Scandals and deals: Fabius bows out (but he won't be short of cash)
Society
The English called 'barbarians' after this 'massacre' of French crepes
National
This terrifying video shows why you should avoid the sea during a storm
Lifestyle
A closer look at the 11 different American expats you'll meet in France
Gallery
Ten reasons why France is a great place to work
Politics
Why France is unlikely to force UK to move border back home
Society
The French foods you need to eat (in moderation) to stay healthy
Lifestyle
So where do all the Americans live in France and where do they avoid?
Public warned as gale force winds and giant waves lash the French coastline
Lifestyle
How Paris plans to become a 'model' of cleanliness - that's not a joke
Only in France - Pig's entrails, cheese and steak sold in vending machines
Travel
Wait... that's not snow! Check out France's most unique ski slope
Culture
Don't panic, France isn't bidding a final adieu to the circumflex
Culture
VIDEO: UK group performs Shakespeare for Calais refugees
National
France cuts more red tape: E.G. No license needed to collect horse's sperm
Gallery
How France could really simplify the French language (for us learners)
3,429
jobs available