French is a Romance language (meaning that it is descended mainly from vulgar Latin) spoken by around 136 million people as a first language in 56 countries and territories. Considering the 328 million people who are native English speakers, French to English translation can be quite useful for many.
Include all others who speak French as a second or foreign language and the total number even goes up to around 500 million! In the European Union alone, there are 65 million native speakers and about 69 million others who claim to speak French as a second or foreign language. And even more people have English as their second language!
It is hard to miss the influence French has had on the English language. When William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 he, his nobles and followers came from Normandy and spoke different dialects from northwestern France.
The different dialects developed into one unique dialect we now call Anglo-Norman. Since the elite spoke that language, the use soon spread to law courts, schools, universities and other social classes became keen to learn that language.
Although the English language survived and eventually eclipsed Anglo-Norman the former has integrated many words from the latter. This relationship between the languages makes a French to English translation a little more intuitive. And it is also the reason why there are often several words one can choose from in English that have the same meaning.
Grammatically the impact has been limited though, with the exception of a few official and legal terms where the noun and adjective were reversed: attorney general, heir apparent, court martial, etc.
On the Channel Islands French official and legal terms are used more often. Even now a company that is going bankrupt there is said to be ‘en désastre’.
In other European countries French became popular in the 17th century among higher social classes as a sort of status symbol. Because of the rise of nationalism in the 19th century that ended again. It remained the diplomatic language of choice until the 20th century. Nowadays the French diplomats have to resort to French to English translations again though, because English has taken over that role since.
l’Académie Francaise counts 200,000 French words in total but estimates that speaking basic French only requires 1,000 to 3,000 words and that fluent French requires the knowledge of 2,000 to 20,000 words.
Hundreds of dialects and regional languages used to exist in France. When Napoleon became emperor of France only half of the French population spoke French. But by the late 1800s these local dialects were suppressed and the national education system was used to establish French as the first language of all French citizens. By 1910 about 90% of the French understood French and nowadays regional languages are almost eradicated which has led to calls for preservation and the establishment of bilingual education.
Since so many people are able to speak the language, French to English translation is done by many translation agencies and freelancers. But nowadays computer programs that will assist with translating (or even do the job by themselves) are available as well. The quick French to English translation this software provides is quite useful in today’s fast paced economy. A free trial download enables a hassle free test of quality and ease of use.