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French Language

In France, Most French people speak the French language as their mother tongue, but certain languages like Norman, Occitan, Corsican, Basque, French Flemish and Breton remain spoken in certain regions (see Language policy in France). There have also been periods of history when a majority of French people had other first languages (local languages such as Occitan, Catalan, Alsatian, West Flemish, Lorraine Franconian, Gallo, Picard or Ch'timi and Arpitan). Today, many immigrants speak another tongue at home.

According to historian Eric Hobsbawm, "the French language has been essential to the concept of 'France'", although in 1789, 50 percent of the French people did not speak it at all, and only 12 to 13 percent spoke it fairly well; even in oïl language zones, it was not usually used except in cities, and even there not always in the outlying districts.

Multiculturalism versus universalism

In France, the conception of citizenship teeters between universalism and multiculturalism, especially in recent years. French citizenship has been defined for a long time by three factors: integration, individual adherence, and the primacy of the soil (jus soli). Political integration (which includes but is not limited to racial integration) is based on voluntary policies which aims at creating a common identity, and the interiorization by each individual of a common cultural and historic legacy. Since in France, the state preceded the nation, voluntary policies have taken an important place in the creation of this common cultural identity.

On the other hand, the interiorization of a common legacy is a slow process, which B. Villalba compares to acculturation. According to him, "integration is therefore the result of a double will: the nation's will to create a common culture for all members of the nation, and the communities' will living in the nation to recognize the legitimacy of this common culture". Villalba warns against confusing recent processes of integration (related to the so-called "second generation immigrants", who are subject to discrimination), with older processes which have made modern France. Villalba thus shows that any democratic nation characterize itself by its project of transcending all forms of particular memberships (whether biological - or seen as such, ethnic, historic, economic, social, religious or cultural). The citizen thus emancipates himself from the particularisms of identity which characterize himself to attain a more "universal" dimension. He is a citizen, before being member of a community or of a social class.

Therefore, according to Villalba, "a democratic nation is, by definition, multicultural as it gathers various populations, which differs by their regional origins (Bretons, Corsicans or Lorrains...), their national origins (immigrant, son or grandson of an immigrant), or religious origins (Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Agnostics or Atheists...)."

How to chat with French people

With MSN English to French translator, Skype Spanish to French Translator, Yahoo Messenger French translator, you can chat with French people easily.


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