You may have heard the French language referred to as the language of love, it may even be a reason for why you would like to learn French in France. If it is you probably have a romantic soul and coming to do an immersion course in a French city like Montpellier will be right up your street. Whilst you are studying French you can walk down the rustic streets and through the beautiful parks and fall in love with the language, the city, the country and the people. It’s very easy to do, but what makes French the language of love? I should say at the outset there is not clear explanation and what follows is just the theory of the origin of this reputation.
Who Really Thinks French is the Language of Love?
Maybe not everyone but certainly a lot of people from all over the world. According to Google it is the language in which people are most likely to say something romantic so if someone in Russia wants to say to their partner ‘I love you’ in another language for an exotic touch they are most likely to translate their sentence into French. Google translate has identified a pattern that more translations for romantic phrases have been made into French than any other language. On a survey of multiple languages into the most common phrases translated it was found that the number in French was highest, followed by Spanish.
This alongside what you hear from talking to people it certainly seems that it is a wide-spread perception that French is a very romantic language if not the most romantic. Obviously this is subjective but let’s examine some of the roots.
Where Does This Reputation Come From?
Technically speaking French is one of several Romance Languages (Or Neo-Latin languages) and it has (150 million speakers world-wide). These are modern languages that have evolved from Vulgar Latin between the 6th and 9th centuries. They for a subset of the Italic languages within the Indo-European language family. Other romance languages include Spanish (470 million speakers), Portuguese (250 million), Italian (60 million) and Romanian (25 million). There are roughly 35 current languages that fall into the same category. Don’t be deceived by this title though as it more a designation that it is connected to Latin; the language of the Romans. The modern word ‘romance’ has similar origins but has taken a different meaning over time.
One theory for the reputation of French as being romantic centres around the period in Medieval France when love became an idealised notion. Love became a separate concept to marriage which was seen more as an economic and practical arrangement. Love was seen as often being shared between people outside of wedlock. In literature knights would return from battle with a longing for women who were often married to other people. Thus their love was chaste, noble and spiritual with the solemn purity of love that cannot be, however of course in some cases it was realised. The woman in the situation would be seen as a respected person of quality; this is known as ‘l’amour courtois’ or ‘courtly love’. This was revolutionary at the time as women were generally seen as inferior but in these relationships they were seen as deeply revered. The original examples of this are to be found in poetry from ‘Occitania’; a cultural area covering most of southern France, part of Catalonia, Monaco, and a little bit of Italy.
This laid the foundation for the reputation. This outlook on women as being equal, deeply respected and virtuous alongside a strict adherence to chivalry and nobility was expressed in poetry and literature and here it founds it’s form in which it could be exported to the rest of France and eventually the world. Occitainia became a historical concept but there remains the region of France; Occitanie. So if you are thinking of learning French in France and the romance of the language calls to you then why not come to the EasyFrench Immersion School in Montpellier. You will be studying the language of love in the birthplace of this notion and after a few weeks in southern France you will be able to see for yourself that the language deserves the title.