Did you know French is the most important language of the future for UK businesses?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why.
This beautiful, historic language has over 276 million speakers across the world. It’s Europe’s second most widely-spoken mother tongue, and is in the top 5 most popularly used languages on the internet, too.
Furthermore, French is the official language for about 29 countries, including those that account for 20% of world trade in goods. Not only that, but the French language is also right on the doorstep of the UK — of course.
You’d be right in thinking that this positions it as one of the most useful languages around, particularly for UK businesses. If you’re contemplating translating aspects of your business, French should be right at the top of your mind. Looking for more reasons why French is useful for business? Right this way.
The French Language: It’s got the history, the future — as well as the numbers.
Let’s explore le français a little more, shall we?
French speakers are spread far and wide, and there’s plenty of them to boot. 276 million, to be precise; it’s estimated that 212 million use the language on a daily basis. They can be found in 102 territories across the globe.
All of these speakers and states comprise the La Francophonie — the Francophone, French-speaking world.
“With English, French is the only language with the characteristics of a world language and is the official language of 32 states and governments.”
Imma Tor, Director of the French language and linguistic diversity, OIF.
Le francais ? Très important — according to research.
Sure, numbers and geographical distribution are pretty damn useful, but they’re not the whole picture.
Let’s try and get a more rounded idea. The British Council’s Languages of the Future is a good place to start. Their report consulted a number of key indicators — high-growth markets, UK government trading priorities, current UK exports and the linguistic needs of the UK businesses — to give this interesting rundown.
It shows that French has actually overtaken the powerhouse of German as the most important language for trade.
Languages needed for economic purposes for UK businesses
Source: Languages of the Future, British Council.
Score (from indicators)
Hindi or other Indian languages
So, of all foreign languages — you guessed it — French is the most important for UK businesses in the future. Sit up and take note, would-be French speakers!
Ah, bon? Let’s hear some other reasons why French is the bee’s knees for business usefulness.
French speakers are hooked up — and ready to spend.
People want to read and consume content in their own language.
It’s only natural, right?
The French, and those in French-speaking countries, are no different. Therefore, it should come as absolutely no surprise at all to learn that French is a major language of the internet.
If you were ever in any doubt about the business usefulness of French, just check out these Internet content statistics — French and Persian tied for fifth as the most popular languages online.
Still don’t believe us? Well, consider that France has an internet penetration rate of 92.3% — meaning, of course, that the vast majority are hooked up to the web.
France also has the world’s seventh-largest ecommerce market, not forgetting the importance of the rest of the Francophone world, including Belgium, Canada and much of Africa.
All in all, French-speaking consumers are there for the taking — but only if your business makes the effort to speak their language. As we never tire of saying, people are more likely to buy your products if you make this special effort.
Other businesses are there.
It might be reassuring to know that other businesses have found success in the French-speaking world.
French was the common “international language” for business and diplomacy for many years and remains an official language of the UN, NATO, World Trade Organisation and the International Olympic Committee. Ensuring your business communicates in French, then, implies that you’re in very powerful company!
The proof is in the pudding. Businesses worldwide are using it, from pharmaceuticals to media publications to all sorts of marketing disciplines and — crucially — to tourist-centric companies, too such as Get My Boat. They’re a boat rental service that connects boat owners and operators to customers worldwide. Employee Jess Segraves commented:
“French has enabled me to work easily with the Canadian and French media, website owners and webmasters quickly and efficiently. It’s extremely important for our international reach - a global marketplace does not just serve the English-speaking world!”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Steeped in culture and history.
Economic analysis and statistics are very important. Absolutely — no doubt about it.
But there’s also something special about French. Something extra that your business gains when it makes the effort to speak the language.
“The whole of Paris is a vast university of Art, Literature and Music… it is worth anyone’s while to dally here for years. Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in everything.”
- James Thurber
France has around 30 sites on Unesco’s World Heritage list (it’s fourth on the global rankings list) and it’s also home to the famous Louvre, which houses roughly 35,000 artifacts and attracts nearly 10 million visitors a year - more than any other museum in the world.
These are just two examples out of a list of many. France is very famous for its links to many of society’s beloved cultural disciplines, including fashion, cooking, art and architecture.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a creative niche that the French haven’t famously excelled in, in fact — a proficiency which has bought them linguistic dominance, in turn, among many academics, creatives and tourists.
French isn’t a language that just has positive practical implications, therefore: it pulls at the heartstrings, strikes a chord — and ultimately makes you memorable.
“50% of current English vocabulary derives from French.”
As previously stated, French is a very popular language.
It’s an easy language to learn, for one (particularly when pitched against others like Mandarin!). It’s also one of the world’s most popularly shared official languages, spoken in lands as diverse as Belgium, Cameroon, Luxembourg, Madagascar and Canada — to name but a few, giving it real global scope.
Not only that, a lot of people feel inspired to pick up French recreationally due to its cultural symbolism (as aforementioned); the “fashion” of the language helping spread its reach even further.
When you’re communicating in French, you’re not simply speaking to those who are native to France - you’re speaking to the millions of people who’ve picked it up or adopted it in other countries where it lives as an official language. In picking up French, you join a global community.
“The French air cleans up the brain and does good – a world of good.”
- Vincent Van Gogh
Strikingly, France is the most visited country in the world.
It’s also bound by the North Sea, English Channel, Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean — in addition to bordering six other countries. This makes it ideally suited for international trade and tourist accessibility.
France possesses a significant global draw — and President Emmanuel Macron is keen on furthering the soft power of this historic republic.
The French-speaking global population is growing rapidly, too. Research by investment bank Natixis suggests it may be spoken by 750 million people by 2050 - overtaking both English and Mandarin.
French is easy to learn, present on all continents, in the global spotlight and one of the primary languages spoken on a continent projected to be economically prolific by 2050 — Africa. Indeed, of the 212 million daily users of French, 54.7% are in Africa.
French is a language of the past, present and future.
Globally significant, popularly adored and widely used — there’s never been a better time to give your business a bit of the French treatment.