Who invented the French language?
With a few exceptions, like Esperanto and Klingon, languages are not directly ‘invented’ by any one particular person – they ‘evolve’ from other languages. French is the continuously evolving invention of every person who has ever spoken French. Modern French developed gradually from the Latin spoken in Gaul about 2,000 years ago. Gaul is the area of the Roman Empire that roughly corresponds to the modern European countries of France, Belgium and
Switzerland (Asterix & Obelix fans will know this already
– Ed.) At first, the differences between the Latin spoken in Gaul and the Latin spoken in Rome herself was small, but the differences increased over the centuries. New words were invented or imported from other languages, and the pronunciation of words changed. ‘Selfie’, for example, is a newly invented word in the English language, meaning a photo taken of you by you. Eventually the ‘Latin’ of Gaul was so different from the ‘Latin’ of Rome, the two different peoples would hardly be able to hold a conversation – they spoke so differently that they eventually started calling each other’s gibberish French and Italian. Modern Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian and Catalan evolved in similar ways in other parts of the Roman Empire, all from the same Latin root. The same thing is also true of Latin itself. A language spoken somewhere around the Black Sea, about 6,000 years ago, was probably the ancestor of most of the languages of Europe, Iran and India, including French, English, Welsh, German, Greek, Russian, Hindi and Farsi. The same ‘language evolution’ is still happening today. The French spoken in France, Belgium, Quebec and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are not identical. Who knows? In the far future they may become as different from one another as French and Italian are today.