François means French

The newspaper L’Express ran an interesting series of summer articles about the history of the French language.

In short: When the territory was still know as Gaul, a Celtic language was in place. After Julius Caesar conquered the land of Asterix, Latin imposed itself as the dominant language, slowly eradicating the initial Celtic culture whose traces are now only to be found in the language still spoken in Britanny: Breton.

The Franks later took over from the Romans, but they didn’t impose their own Germanic language (although they contributed a lot of vocabulary) instead they blended it with the many types of Latin spoken around all the different regions. There weren’t enough Franks to populate all of the land… Which is why the winners (for once) adopted the language of the losers. This explains how French, although it takes its the name from the Franks is mainly Latin based.

‘French’ was only one of the many blends of  Germanic influenced Latin  spoken around France in 1539 when it was officially imposed for the writing of legal documents. It just so happened that it was the language of the king. François of his name.

That’s the simplified version. If you fancy finding out more and practicising your (modern) French whilst doing so, read these  articles:

You will find out about the victory of Latin, how the Franks later accomodated that heritage and how what we now know as French, was finally imposed by François 1st.

Here is also the translation of the vocabulary of Frank origin as found in the article.

  • Bordel: brothel (it originally didn’t have that meaning.
  • Hêtre: beech tree
  • Bois: wood
  • Jardin: garden
  • Marquis:  used as such in English
  • Maréchal: marshall
  • Renard: fox
  • Guerre: war
  • Guérir: to heal
  • Garçon: boy
  • Gagner: to win
  • Garder: to keep
  • Gâteau: cake