The Gauls period :
In 5000 BC, France is not yet the France we know now. The Gauls people were in France at that time. France was called Gaul.
The language spoken by the Gauls was "le gaulois".
Today we find some words of Gauls origin in the French language, such as : charrue, chêne, quatre-vingt, quatre-vingt-dix, etc.
It's apparently because of the Gauls, that in French they said "quatre-vingt" and "quatre-vingt-dix". At that time, the Gauls didn't count by ten, but by twenty.
You hate the Gauls now that I've told you that, I'm sure. 😂
The arrival of the Romans in France :
The Gauls didn't have a lot of friends, especially the Romans.
In those days, turf wars were common.
From 58 to 51 BC, the Romans invaded Gaul.
As a result, the Gaul language in France is gradually disappearing in the face of the language spoken by the Romans : Latin.
When the Franks interfere :
In the 5th century, the Franks decided to invade France, which was called Roman Gaul.
The Franks spoke frankish, which was a Germanic language.
There are some traces of frankish in the French language such as the words : honte, bleu and bannir (shame, blue and banish).
Although they speak Frankish, the Franks also speak Latin, but they pronounce it in their own way.
This mixture of frankish and Latin spoken by the Franks gives rise to a new language : "le roman"
In 800, at his coronation, Charlemagne reintroduced Latin in churches and schools.
As a result, France is divided : the nobles speak Latin and the people speak the "roman".
North vs. South :
And on top of that, we notice that in the Xᵉ century, the novel is not used in the same way according to the regions.
In the North of France, to say yes, wa say : OÏl and in the South we say : Oc.
It's the ancestor of the famous war between : pain au chocolat and chocolatine.
French finally !
It's only in the XVIᵉ century that French becomes official ! It wasn't that long ago !
In 1539, François 1er made French the official language in all administrative documents.
L'Académie française :
It was in 1635 that the famous Académie française was created by Richelieu.
What is the purpose of the Académie française ?
Its goal is to standardize, normalize and perfect the French language through the creation of : - a dictionary and a grammar book
At that time, patois (the local and often rural language of the countryside) was still spoken by 80% of the French.
The French Revolution, in 1789, marked the need to standardize the French language.
Indeed, the patois is considered harmful to the nation, it is thought to divide France and the French.
Back to school :
Jules Ferry, in 1880, established compulsory, free and secular schooling in France, where teaching was only in French.
As a result, the patois disappears little by little.
Late modern period :
Despite attempts to standardize the French language, regional talks are still very present in France. It is thanks to the arrival of media such as television and radio that French is becoming more uniform.
We don't realize it now, but it makes sense.
If in the North of France, for example, we say OÏl for Yes and in the South, we say Oc for Yes as well: how can they know that they don't have the same pronunciation ?
In this day and age with social networks, internet and television, information is instantaneous, you can be in communication with a person on the other side of the world.
A few centuries ago, it was a lot more complicated than that.
In conclusion :
The French language has its origins in Gaul, Latin, Frankish, "Roman" and regional languages.
But not only that !
French has also been influenced by the languages of its neighboring countries such as : English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, etc.
Let's take as an example some words of foreign origin used in French :
English : week-end | interview | crash
Spanish : camarade | gilet
Arabic : magasin | bazar
Italian : banque | ciao
Latin : prudence | vidéo
Gauls : pays
So, to answer the question : why is French a complicated language ?
Mainly because French history is complicated !
Don't forget ! French is a living language, it's even changing right now.
Keep that in mind, it's very important, and also remember all the historical path that has led to the French language today.
The origin of the French language now holds no more secrets for you !
If you still have doubts, test your understanding with a quiz right here ⬇️
I'll see you soon for new adventures in French, of course ! 🇫🇷