« the language of the Republic is French» (art.
2 of the French Constitution)
Of all the bonds that link individuals in society, language
is the strongest, because it constitutes the foundation stone for the
feeling of belonging to a community. This
bond is constantly changing, as a result of increasing globalisation and
the building of the European Union. The public authorities therefore need
to promote a language policy, which ensures
that the French language remains pre-eminent
on French soil, but which also contributes to social
unity and helps to foster cultural diversity
in Europe and throughout the world.
The Ministry of Culture and Communication, as the ministry responsible
for the French language, has a special responsibility to implement this
policy, together with various other ministerial departments.
Since the Villers-Cotterêts Edict in 1539, the
French language has officially been a component of national identity.
Today, the Constitution (article 2) specifies that the language of the
Republic is French, while remaining open to the use of other languages.
La délégation générale à la langue
française et aux langues de France (DGLFLF) is a government department
whose role is to guide national language policy at inter-ministerial level.
Attached to the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the department's
role is to examine, pilot and co-ordinate issues, and to track the application
of legislative and statutory mechanisms (Law of 4th August 1994 on the
use of the French language). It is supported by a network of partner organisations
including the Senior Council for the French Language and the General Commission
for Terminology and Neologisms.
In 1966 Prime Minister Georges Pompidou created
within his own office the Senior Committee for the defence and
expansion of the French language (Haut comité pour la défense
et l'expansion de la langue française), which later became
the Senior Committee for the French Language (Haut comité
pour la langue française).
In 1984 this senior committee was replaced
by two new bodies, the Consultative Committee (le Comité
consultatif) and the General Commission (Commissariat général),
which, as of 1986, reported to the Ministry for Francophone Affairs.
These bodies were then replaced in 1989 by the Senior Council
for the French Language (Conseil supérieur de la langue
française) and la Délégation générale
à la langue française.
In 1993, la Délégation générale
à la langue française, in a logical move, reported
to the Ministry of Culture, as the latter was also in charge of
When the Francophone Affairs became a separate department in 1996,
la délégation générale was integrated
into the Ministry of Culture.
In 2001, the title of the department changed
to Délégation générale à la
langue française et aux langues de France in order to mark
the government’s acknowledgement of the linguistic diversity
of our country.
Guarantee our citizens the right
to the French language
Our citizens have the right, enshrined in law, to receive
information and express themselves in their own language.
The DGLFLF monitors and co-ordinates at inter-ministerial level the
application of legislation relating to the French language, and specifically
the law of 4th August 1994. These provisions help to guarantee the health
and safety of consumers and employees by imposing the use of French
in a wide range of circumstances of daily life. The DGLFLF provides
support by setting up facilities for interpreting into French during
major events (seminars, conferences etc.).
Enable the French language to serve
Having a command of the French language is a pre-requisite
for personal fulfilment, social and professional integration, and for
access to knowledge and culture.
The DGLFLF supports actions to enable all individuals to master the
French language and to combat linguistic exclusion. As part of this
mission, it participated, for example, in the establishment of the Initial
French Diploma (Diplôme initial de langue française - DILF)
the aim of which was to ease the integration of immigrants into French
Enrich and modernise the French
Our language is constantly being enriched with new
terms that reflect the reality of contemporary life. Expressions used
on a day-to-day basis follow a natural path of evolution, but in more
specific areas and in particular in technical fields, this progression
must be coupled with a support system.
The DGLFLF is key to the inter-ministerial initiative to enrich the
French language. It supports and co-ordinates the actions taken by the
various players who participate in the establishment of neologisms (General
Commission for terminology and Neologisms, the Académie française,
specialised committees, partner ministries etc.) and is responsible
for making them available to the public.
from the terminology and neologism committees have become part
of every-day language.
Some of these have rapidly broken the boundaries
of specialist terminology and are used by the public at large.
Among these are terms that have existed for some time, such as,
logiciel, puce, baladeur (software, chip, walkman). More
recent terms include: monospace, covoiturage, v.t.t., soit
vélo tout terrain, remue-méninges (people-carrier,
car-sharing, mountain bike, brainstorming). And in relation
to Internet : courriel, navigateur, pirate (email, browser,
Promote linguistic diversity
The rapid increase in commerce and contacts between
different languages has caused our policy to turn towards fostering
multilingualism, in particular at a European level.
This strategy calls for concrete actions to be implemented in order
to promote :
- life-long learning of foreign languages,
- understanding of other languages to facilitate communication,
in particular those in the same family of languages (establishment
and publication of training methods in this technique of communication),
- implementation of a new translation policy which
takes into account technological changes (promotion of translation-associated
professions, establishment of translation aid networks, development
of automatic translation).
Promote and enhance the languages
Alongside the French language, there are regional or
minority languages which also form part of our cultural identity constituting
a living, creative and intangible heritage. They are stakeholders in
the policy to foster cultural and linguistic diversity.
The DGLFLF helps to promote this legacy by encouraging contemporary
works in the languages of France. It supports the enhancement of these
languages by means of theatre, songs, books and all disciplines where
language is the tool of creation. It plays a part in extending their
application by promoting their usage in modern cultural and technical
fields, such as the audio-visual and multimedia spheres.
Amongst the hundreds of languages present in our country, languages
of France refers to those languages that have been spoken by French
citizens on French soil for long enough to belong to the common
heritage, and which are not the official language of any other state,
including « regional » languages such as Flemish,
Basque, Corsican, Creole and Tahitian, and non-territorial minority
languages such as the Arabic dialects, Romany, Berber and Yiddish.
La Délégation générale
à la langue française et aux langues de France contributes
to the promotion of the French language in Europe and across the world.
Present in five continents, the French language is the fundamental tie
between a community of 63 members, associates or observers of the International
Organisation of the French-speaking World (Organisation internationale
de la Francophonie - OIF). Twenty-nine countries have chosen French to
be their official language. It is also one of the official languages of
the International Olympic Committee and is a working language in most
international organisations, notably those which are associated with the
United Nations and the European Union. In the EU, French is the only language
which is both officially spoken in more than two states (like German)
and enjoys international influence (like English or Spanish).
French as a language of international
Cristal, toile, abîme, tintinnabuler…
What do these words have in common ? They have all been selected
to be part of the family of « ten words » chosen
each year during French language week to be brought to life by calling
upon all populations to express their linguistic imagination and to
demonstrate how the French language is a tool for social bonding and
for personal fulfilment, by means of numerous original events (shows,
meetings, writing workshops, competitions etc.).
French language week : www.dismoidixmots.culture.fr
The French language is the business of all French citizens,
who are the guarantors of how it is used and who play a part in how
it develops. The DGLFLF carries out activities to make society as a
whole aware of the issue of language and provides the public with documentary
The DGLFLF website presents information on its activities
and offers on-line resources such as the FRANCETERME
database, which is a compilation of all new terms publicised in the
Official Gazette. It also provides answers to general questions associated
with language. How are words formed ? How has French become enriched
by contact with other languages ? What are the links between the
State and the French language ?
The DGLFLF compiles a set of regularly updated publications
concerning various topics, such as the Law of 4th August 1994, technical
vocabulary, languages of France etc. The full list of these publications
can be sent on request or can be consulted here.
Check our other publications in English
The DGLFLF possesses rich documentary resources dedicated
to the French language, to the French-speaking world and the languages
of France (linguistics, language history and law, dictionaries and specialised
vocabulary, the status of French in the world etc.). Public access to
the resources centre is available on demand.