On a recent trip to Africa, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to make French the most spoken language in Africa and possibly the world. At the moment, around 75 million people speak French as a first language, but there are reports that by 2050, as many as 750 million people will speak the lingo.
French is spoken in many countries in Africa, which currently have some of the largest rates of population growth, and it’s this that makes French one of the fastest-growing languages in the world. If the projections in one report are right, then it will overtake Mandarin Chinese and English as the most spoken language.
While few people would argue that French is a beautiful language, there are some that don’t think it’s a useful language to learn; a recent attack on learning French in New York Schools entitled, ‘Let’s Stop Pretending that French is an Important Language‘ went viral. However, it is one of the United Nations’ official languages (as well as NATO, the Olympics, and Eurovision). It is also seen as one of the main literary languages and one that is present on all continents. It’s still a hugely influential language in the world.
The population projections outlined in the scenario where French becomes the number one spoken language are highly improbable. It assumes that all people in countries where French is the official language will all speak French, which is highly unlikely, and the world’s most spoken second language is likely to remain English. That said, it doesn’t hurt the French President’s image to tout France and its language as up-and-coming, particularly in its role in Europe and on the world stage. Even if it’s only a perception.