French is spoken by approximately 274 million people as a native language or fluent second language. French is an international language of diplomacy and commerce as well as an official language of the United Nations and the Olympics.
French spelling generally reflects the language as it was spoken four or five centuries ago and is therefore a poor guide to modern pronunciation. Although the pronunciation is governed by fairly consistent rules, the actual sounds of the language are quite difficult for adult English speakers to learn and a good ‘French accent’ is not easily acquired unless learned in one’s youth.
Sources for the content on this page include: Wikipedia.org “French Language”, Suite101.com “A Brief History of the French Language: The Origins and Development of French”, FrenchLanguageGuide.com “French, Language History” & “French Language Statistics”, LearnFrenchGuide.com “French Language Stats”, History.com “French Language”, and About.com “What is French? Facts and Figures about the French Language”.