New estimate for world French population: 274 million

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Every once in a while la Francophonie or some other group gets together and a study is released that gives us an estimate of the world's French population. The first one I noted on Page F30 was one from 2007 or so that estimated the number of speakers at 200 million, with 500 million more expected 50 years from then. Then one from 2010 gave us an estimate of 220 million, which at around 7 million extra speakers a year is around in line with that.

Now it's late 2014 and another report is coming out called La langue française dans le monde, which gives the approximate number of French speakers at 274 million. The report itself can be found on this page (in French, English, Arabic, Spanish and (European) Portuguese). Meanwhile articles such as this and this one give an even shorter summary. The second article has charts too.

Some points from the articles:

-- French speakers have increased by 7% from 2010 to 2014, reaching 274 million. So their previous estimate in 2010 was a bit over 250 million.
-- French is still losing prominence in international organizations in spite of this. In the EU 90% of documents are originally written in English.
-- French speakers are up 15% in Sub-Saharan Africa. No surprise that the rate of increase is greater there.
-- French is the third-most used language on Amazon, fourth in number of internet users, sixth in number of papges, and sixth-most used language on YouTube.

Also ignore the part of the second article where it says French is the fifth most spoken, because French here is listed after 1. Mandarin 2. English 3. Spanish 4. "Arabic and Hindi". Sticking to the report itself is probably best.


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