Francization (in American English, Canadian English, and Oxford English) or Francisation (in other British English), Frenchification, or Gallicization is the expansion of French language use—either through willful adoption or coercion—by more and more social groups who had not before used the language as a common means of expression in daily life.[1][2][3][4] As a linguistic concept, known usually as gallicization, it is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or understand in French.

According to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the figure of 220 million Francophones (French-language speakers) is sous-évalué (under-evaluated)[5] because it only counts people who can write, understand and speak French fluently, thus excluding a majority of African French-speaking people, who do not know how to write.[6] The French Conseil économique, social et environnemental estimate that were they included, the total number of French speakers passed 500 million in the year 2000.[7] French has the world's fastest-growing relative share of speakers.

In 2014, a study from the French bank Natixis claimed French will become the world's most-spoken language by 2050.[8][9][10] However, critics of the study state that French coexists with other languages in many countries and the study's estimates are prone to exaggeration.

The number of Francophones in the world has been rising substantially since the 1980s. In 1985, there were 106 million Francophones around the world. That number quickly rose to 173.2 million in 1997, 200 million in 2005, 220 million in 2010 (+10% from 2007).[11] and reached 274 million in 2014.[12] Forecasts expect that the number of French speakers in Africa alone will reach 400 million in 2025, 715 million (readjusted in 2010)[13] by 2050 and reach 1 billion and 222 million in 2060 (readjusted in 2013).[14] The worldwide French-speaking population is expected to quadruple, whereas the world population is predicted to grow by half.[15]


  Countries normally considered as francophone
  Countries sometimes considered as francophone
  Countries not considered francophone but that joined the OIF in prospect of a francization.

Africa has 32 French-speaking countries, more than half its total (53);[citation needed] French was also the most widely spoken language in Africa in 2015.[16]

However, Nigeria, the most populous country on the continent, is predominantly English speaking.[17]

The Francophone zone of Africa is two times the size of the United States of America (including Alaska).[18][circular reference]

French was introduced in Africa by France and Belgium during the colonial period. The process of francization continued after the colonial period, so that English-speaking countries like Ghana or Nigeria feel strong French influences from their French-speaking neighbours.

French became the most spoken language in Africa after Arabic and Swahili in 2010.[19] The number of speakers changed very rapidly between 1992 and 2002, with the number of French learners in sub-Saharan Africa increasing by 60.37%, from 22.33 million to 34.56 million people.[20] A similar trend in the Maghreb region is occurring. However, as figures provided by the OIF for the Maghreb region were combined with those of the Middle East, the exact count for the Maghreb countries alone is not possible. In this larger region (Maghreb and Middle East), an increase from 10.47 million to 18 million people learning French was observed between 1992 and 2002.

Consideration should be given to the number of French speakers in each country to get an idea of the importance the French language holds in Africa.

Many African countries without French as an official language have recently joined the OIF in view of francizing their countries:

The French language currently plays an important role in Africa, serving more and more as a common language or mother tongue (in Gabon, Ivory Coast, Congo, Cameroon and Benin in particular). The African Academy of Languages was established in 2001 to manage the linguistic heritage.[21]

Francophone African countries counted 370 million inhabitants in 2014. This number is expected to reach between 700 and 750 million by 2050.[22] There are already more francophones in Africa than in Europe.[23]


Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were once part of French Indochina, part of the French Empire. French culture, in aspects of architecture, culinary and linguistics, have been integrated into the local ones, although the latter remained highly distinct. French language used to be the official language and was considerably popular and influential in these colonies, but after they were decolonised and gained independence, the new governments generally removed its influence, by implementing the native language as the only official language in the newly independent states. Currently, the presence of French language in these countries are negligibly minor.



England, and therefore the English language, was deeply francized during the Middle Ages. This was a result of the conquest of England by William the Conqueror from Normandy in 1066, a king who spoke exclusively French and imposed the French language in England. Old English became the language of the poor population and French the language of the court and wealthy population. It is said that during this period, people in England spoke more French than those in France.[24] Today, it is estimated that 50% to 60% of the English language comes from French or Latin.[25]

Cookery gives a good example of this tendency: the names of many farm animals have Anglo-Saxon roots. However, the names of their meat (once exclusive to the wealthy) have Old French origins:[26]

  • Pig (Anglo-Saxon) – Pork from the Old French porc
  • Cow (Anglo-Saxon cou) – Beef from the Old French bœuf
  • Chicken (Anglo-Saxon) – Poultry from the Old French pouletrie or poule
  • Sheep (Anglo-Saxon scæp) – Mutton from the Old French moton

France Edit

"Francization" is also used to mean any of many cultural assimilation policies implemented by French authorities since the French Revolution. These aimed to impose or maintain the dominance of the French language and French culture. Before the Revolution, French was still a minority language in France by number of speakers, but was the prestige language. The Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts under King Francis I of France prescribed the official use of the French language, the langue d'oïl dialect spoken at the time in the Île-de-France, in all documents. Other languages, such as Occitan, began to disappear as written languages.

With the decline of Latin, French became increasingly important for writing. Often, people were encouraged or compelled to adopt French, thereby developing a French identity at the expense of their existing one. Use of other languages was often suppressed. This occurred, for example, among the Alemannic-speaking inhabitants of Alsace and the Lorraine Franconian-speaking inhabitants of Lorraine after these regions were conquered by Louis XIV during the seventeenth century, to the Flemings in French Flanders, to the Occitans in Occitania, and to Basques, Bretons, Catalans, Corsicans and Niçards.

Shortly after the fall of the Ancien Régime, the new revolutionary government adopted a policy of promotion of French as a unifying and modernizing language, simultaneously denigrating the status of minority languages as bulwarks of feudalism, Church control of the state, and backwardness in general. In less than a year after coming to power (1792), the Committee for Public Instruction mandated that the newly-expanded public education be fortified by sending French-speaking teachers to areas that spoke other languages.[27] This programme achieved many of its aims during the 19th century: by the 1860s, nearly 80% of the national population could speak French.[28]

A map of the County of Nice showing the area of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia annexed in 1860 to France (light brown). The red area was already part of France before 1860.

After the Treaty of Turin was signed in 1860 between the Victor Emmanuel II and Napoleon III as a consequence of the Plombières Agreement, the County of Nice was ceded to France as a territorial reward for French assistance in the Second Italian War of Independence against Austria, which saw Lombardy united with Piedmont-Sardinia. The Italian language was the official language of the County of Nice, used by the Church, at the town hall, taught in schools, used in theaters and at the Opera, was immediately abolished and replaced by French.[29][30] The French government implemented a policy of Francization of society, language and culture of the County of Nice.[31] The toponyms of the communes of the ancient County have been francized, which acted as a bank to the obligation to use French in Nice,[32] as well as certain surnames (for example the Italian surname "Bianchi" was francized into "Leblanc", and the Italian surname "Del Ponte" was francized into "Dupont").[33]

By 1900, French had become the mother tongue of the majority of adults in France. Jules Ferry introduced free, compulsory education during the French Third Republic, and openly tried to strengthen the centralised state by instilling a French national identity in the population.[34] French was presented as the language of modernity, as opposed to regional languages such as Breton or Basque, labelled as barbaric or tribal. Pupils caught speaking these languages were punished by making them display tokens of shame.[35] In Occitan-speaking areas that school policy was called the vergonha.

Historically, no official language was recognized by the French Constitution. In 1994, French was declared constitutionally to be the language of the French Republic. In 1998, France became a signatory of the European Charter on Minority Languages; however, it has yet[when?] to ratify it, with general agreement among the political class that supportive measures are neither popular enough to attract wide support nor banal enough to be uncontroversial, with concerns specifically about courts forcing the state to act if the rights enshrined in the charter are recognised.

Initiatives to encourage the use of minority languages are limited by the refusal of the French Government to recognize them, on the basis of the French Constitution, which states that "The language of the Republic of France is French". This view was upheld in 2021, when Deputy Paul Molac unexpectedly won a majority vote in the French National Assembly to allow for immersive education in minority languages in state-run schools. The Assembly's decision was immediately contested by the French Constitutional Council, which struck out the parliament's vote.[36] The Council also deemed unconstitutional the use of diacritical marks not used in French, such as the tilde in "ñ".[37]


Brussels and the Flemish peripheryEdit

In the last two centuries, Brussels transformed from an exclusively Dutch-speaking city to a bilingual city with French as the majority language and lingua franca. The language shift began in the eighteenth century and accelerated as Belgium became independent and Brussels expanded beyond its original city boundaries.[38][39] From 1880 onwards, more and more Dutch-speaking people became bilingual, resulting in a rise of monolingual French speakers after 1910. Halfway through the twentieth century, the number of monolingual French-speakers carried the day over the (mostly) bilingual Flemish inhabitants.[40] Only since the 1960s, after the fixation of the Belgian language border and the socio-economic development of Flanders was in full effect, could Dutch stem the tide of increasing French use.[41] The francization of the Flemish periphery around Brussels still continues because of the continued immigration of French speakers coming from Wallonia and Brussels.

North AmericaEdit



The Office québécois de la langue française's main office, located in the old building of the École des beaux-arts de Montréal.

The Government of Quebec has francization policies intended to establish French as the primary language of business and commerce. All businesses are required to provide written communications and schedules in French, and may not make knowledge of a language other than French a condition of hiring unless this is justified by the nature of the duties. Businesses with more than fifty employees are required to register with the Quebec Office of the French language in order to become eligible for a francization certificate, which is granted if the linguistic requirements are met. If not, employers are required to adopt a francization programme, which includes having employees, especially ones in managerial positions, who do not speak French or whose grasp of French is weak attend French-language training.[42]

As part of the francization programme, the Quebec government provides free language courses for recent immigrants (from other countries or other provinces) who do not speak French or whose command of French is weak. The government also provides financial assistance for those who are unable to find employment because they are unable to speak French.[43]

Another aspect of francization in Quebec regards the quality of the French used in Quebec. The Quebec Office of the French language has, since its formation, undertaken to discourage anglicisms and to promote high standards of French-language education in schools.[44]

The francization programmes have been considered a great success. Since 1977 (the year the Charter of the French Language became law), the number of English speakers[clarification needed] has decreased from 14% in 1970 to less than 6.7% in 2006. In the 1970s the French language was generally understood only by native French speakers, who were 80% of the population of Quebec. In 2001, French was understood by more than 94% of the population.[45] Moreover, the number of immigrants sending their children to English schools fell from 80% in 1970 to less than 4% in 2006.[citation needed]

French is also becoming increasingly attractive to foreign speakers, suggesting that the francization programmes have been successful.[citation needed]

Montreal is a particular interesting case because, unlike the rest of Quebec, the French-speaking proportion of the population diminished. However, this does not mean that the francization programmes failed, as the share of English speakers diminished as well; it seems more likely that the decrease was caused by the fact that 93% of new immigrants to Quebec choose to settle in Montreal,[46] with a corresponding rise in languages other than English and French. The government of Quebec estimates that, over the next 20 years, the Francophone proportion of Montreal will go back up.[47]

But those estimations seem to underestimate the francization of Montreal for some experts, because statistics show that the proportion has already risen from 55.6% (1996) to 56.4% (2001).[48]

The success of francization of Quebec can also be seen over the borders of its territory: in Ontario, the proportion of English speakers dropped from 70.5% in 2001 to 68% in 2006,[49][50] while the proportion of French speakers went up from 4.06% (488 815) in 2006 to 4.80% (580 000) in 2009. However, this statistic must be examined in conjunction with the effects of Quebec francophone out-migration. Interprovincial migration, especially to Ontario, results in a net loss of population in Quebec. The number of French-speaking Quebecers leaving the province tends to be similar to the number entering, while immigrants to Quebec tend to leave.[51]

None of the Quebec statistics are adjusted to compensate for the percentage—approximately 20%—of Anglophones who departed the province by the mid-1980s as a consequence of linguistic nationalism.[52] By 2001, over 60% of the 1971 population of Quebec Anglophones had left the province.[53]

The Charter of the French Language has been a complete success, according to Hervé Lavenir de Buffon (general secretary of the « Comité international pour le français, langue européenne »), who said in 2006: "Before Bill 101, Montreal looked like an American city. Now Montreal looks like a French-speaking city; that proves how well Bill 101 has worked!"[54]

New BrunswickEdit

The policy has been even more successful in New Brunswick, for example: the city of Edmundston went from around 89% French-speaking in 1996 to 93.4% in 2006, the city of Moncton from 30.4% in 1996 to 33% in 2006, Dalhousie (from 42.5% to 49.5%) and Dieppe (from 71.1% in 1996 to 74.2% in 2006). Some cities even passed 50% of French speakers between 1991 and 2006 like Bathurst, which passed from 44.6% of French speakers in 1996 to 50.5% in 2006, or Campbellton, from 47% in 1996 to 55% in 2006.[55][56][57]

Rates of francization may be established for any group by comparing the number of people who usually speak French to the total number of people in the minority language group. See Calvin Veltman's Language Shift in the United States (1983) for a discussion.

Of the languageEdit

There are many examples of francization in history and popular culture:

  • Crème anglaise replacing the word "custard" on restaurant menus.[where?]
  • Anne Boleyn choosing the French spelling Boleyn over the traditional English Bolin or Bullen.
  • Mary, Queen of Scots, choosing the spelling Stuart over Stewart for the name of her dynasty. (The Scots had dual nationality and Mary, Queen of Scots was brought up in France.)
  • The common "-escu" final particle in Romanian being traditionally changed to "-esco" in French spellings and being occasionally adopted by the persons themselves as a French equivalent of their names (see Eugène Ionesco, Irina Ionesco, Marthe Bibesco).
  • Courriel, short for courrier électronique, replacing e-mail (originally from Quebec).

The same exists for other languages, for example, English, in which case objects or persons can be anglicized.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "FRANCISÉ : Définition de FRANCISÉ". Ortolang (in French). Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  2. ^ Dictionnaire Général Et Grammatical, Des Dictionnaires Français, Tome 2°, 1851.
  3. ^ Nouveau Vocabulaire Français, Où L'on A Suivi L'orthographe Adoptée.
  4. ^ Le Québécois - Dictionnaires et Langues.
  5. ^ "TV5MONDE : TV internationale francophone : Info, Jeux, Programmes TV, Météo, Dictionnaire". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  6. ^ "L'Afrique, un continent refuge pour la francophonie". Afrique Avenir. 15 October 2010. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Discours". La voix de la diversité. Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  8. ^ "FRANCE - Le français, langue la plus parlée en 2050 ?". 26 March 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  9. ^ Pierre Haski (25 March 2014). "Le français sera la langue la plus parlée dans le monde en 2050 - Rue89 - L'Obs" (in French). Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Le français sera-t-il la langue la plus parlée en 2050 ?". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  11. ^ "La Francophonie ne progresse pas qu'en Afrique - Général - RFI". 21 October 2010. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  12. ^ "274 millions de francophones dans le monde - Organisation internationale de la Francophonie". Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  13. ^ (in French) Cahiers québécois de démographie, vol. 31, n° 2, 2003, p. 273-294.
  14. ^ "Un milliard de francophones en 2060". Le Figaro. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  15. ^ (in French) Cahiers québécois de démographie, vol. 32, no 2, 2003, p. 273-294
  16. ^ "La résistance de la langue française face à l'hégémonie anglo-saxonne". Le Bréviaire des Patriotes (in French). 27 February 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  17. ^ Awonusi, Victor O. (1990). "Coming of age: English in Nigeria". English Today. 6 (2): 31–35. doi:10.1017/S0266078400004715. S2CID 145623958.
  18. ^ List of countries and dependencies by area
  19. ^ "Langues du monde". Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Organisation internationale de la Francophonie". Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Background". African Academy of Languages. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  22. ^ Gobry, Pascal-Emmanuel (21 March 2014). "Want To Know The Language of the Future? The Data Suggests It Could Be...French". Forbes. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  23. ^ Wood, Ed M. "How Many People Speak French, And Where Is It Spoken?". The Babbel Magazine. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  24. ^ Jacques Leclerc. "Histoire du français: Ancien français". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  25. ^ "Histoire du français". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  26. ^ Jacques Leclerc (14 October 2014). "Histoire du français: le moyen français". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  27. ^ "Histoire du français: La Révolution française et la langue nationale". Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  28. ^ "Histoire du français: Le français contemporain". Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  29. ^ Large, Didier (1996). "La situation linguistique dans le comté de Nice avant le rattachement à la France". Recherches régionales Côte d'Azur et contrées limitrophes.
  30. ^ Paul Gubbins and Mike Holt (2002). Beyond Boundaries: Language and Identity in Contemporary Europe. pp. 91–100.
  31. ^ Paul Gubbins and Mine Holt (2002). Beyond Boundaries: Language and Identity in Contemporary Europe. pp. 91–100.
  32. ^ "Il Nizzardo" (PDF) (in Italian). Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  33. ^ "Un'Italia sconfinata" (in Italian). Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  34. ^ Watson, Cameron (2003). Modern Basque History: Eighteenth Century to the Present. University of Nevada, Center for Basque Studies. p. 210. ISBN 1-877802-16-6.
  35. ^ Watson (2003), p. 211.
  36. ^ "Le Conseil constitutionnel censure l'essentiel de la loi Molac sur les langues régionales". (in French). 21 May 2021. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  37. ^ "Langues régionales : le Conseil constitutionnel rabote la loi Molac". France 3 Bretagne (in French). Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  38. ^ [1] Archived 5 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ "Université Laval: Accueil". Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  40. ^ (in Dutch) "Thuis in gescheiden werelden" — De migratoire en sociale aspecten van verfransing te Brussel in het midden van de 19e eeuw" Archived 15 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine, BTNG-RBHC, XXI, 1990, 3-4, pp. 383-412, Machteld de Metsenaere, Eerst aanwezend assistent en docent Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  41. ^ J. Fleerackers, Chief of staff of the Belgian Minister for Dutch culture and Flemish affairs (1973). "De historische kracht van de Vlaamse beweging in België: de doelstellingen van gister, de verwezenlijkingen vandaag en de culturele aspiraties voor morgen". Digitale bibliotheek voor Nederlandse Letteren (in Dutch).
  42. ^ [2] Archived 8 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ Information from the Quebec government
  44. ^ "English section- The Charter of the French language". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  45. ^ [3] Archived 6 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  46. ^ "Annexe | Le français langue commune :enjeu de la société québécoise :bilan de la situation de la langue française au Québec en 1995 :rapport | Conseil supérieur de la langue française". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  47. ^ "OQLF_FasLin-01-e.indd" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 December 2006. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  48. ^ "OQLF_FasLin-01-d.indd" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 December 2006. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  49. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2001" (in French). 12 March 2002. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  50. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2006 – Province/Territoire" (in French). 5 February 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  51. ^ Statistics Canada. "Factors Affecting the Evolution of Language Groups". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2006-10-27
  52. ^ David Pettinicchio. "Migration and ethnic nationalism: Anglophone exit and the 'decolonisation' of Québec" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  53. ^ "Find more at | All Canadian : All The Time". Retrieved 29 May 2015.[permanent dead link]
  54. ^ "L'avenir du français en Europe". Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  55. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2006 - Région métropolitaine de recensement/Agglomération de recensement" (in French). 5 February 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  56. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2001" (in French). 12 March 2002. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  57. ^ "Profils des communautés de 2006 - Subdivision de recensement" (in French). 5 February 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010.