Why is French the ‘language of love’?

It’s no secret that we Brits find the French accent pretty sexy (merci Fred from First Dates). In fact, French has a world-wide reputation as the ‘language of love’. But where does this idea come from? And what makes it so romantic?

For starters, let’s clear something up. French is one of the ‘romance’ languages but this has nothing to do with the fact that it’s also a ‘romantic’ language (weird eh?)

The ‘romance’ languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Romanian) are so-called because they have their roots in the Latin spoken by the Western Roman Empire. The fact that French is known globally as a ‘romantic’ language – associated with love and romance – is unrelated. So where does this association come from?

The truth is, no one really knows. Of course, there’s no official scoreboard for what makes a language ‘romantic’. But if there were, the rolling ‘r’s, mesmerising musicality and poetic phrases of the French language would probably score it near the top.

Plus, the country’s capital city is literally known as the ‘capital of love’ with a rich history of art, music and poetry strongly associated with romance. Who can compete with that?

Bottom line is, the idea of French being a romantic language is pretty cliché and borne out of Western ideas of love and romance we pick up from books, films and widely-held stereotypes (there is NOTHING romantic about Line 13 of the Paris metro in rush hour) …but it’s now so engrained in our conceptions of France and the French language that it’s hard to distinguish the two.

Rest assured, there’s so much more to the French language that just some gooey romantic phrases (although they are nice too – keep an eye out for our next post).

Want to get past the clichés and experience some real-life French culture? We at French Toast would love to help you, no matter what stage of learning French you’re at. All of our tutors are native-speakers who love to share their culture and language with you (but leave your stereotypes at the door!)


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