Was French Ever the Official Language of England?

French was the official language of England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 by William the Conqueror of France until 1362, when it was replaced by English. From 1066 to 1362, French was mainly used by nobility, and English was generally spoken by the lower classes. Latin was the main language for official documentation. Historians point to King John’s loss of Normandy, a region in France, in 1294 to the King of France as a main factor why England moved away from the French language. French also started to be viewed negatively because of the Hundred Year War against France, which began in 1337. By 1362, The Statute of Pleading had named English the official language of the courts.

More about languages:

  • An estimated 25% of people in the world have at least some ability to speak the English language.
  • There are about 7,000 languages worldwide, but they die out at a rate of one every 14 days, on average.
  • Mandarin Chinese is the world’s most spoken language, with about 12% of the population speaking it.

Discussion Comments


Economic dominance and language preference seem to go hand in hand. At one time, Greek and Latin were the language of preference, but as economic fortunes changed, so did the language of business. Before it was Spanish then French and now English, al though English seems to be more flexible in adopting words from other languages.


In my opinion, the best way to preserve a language is to save records of it. The Bible is a perfect example of this. Though I doubt many people speak Hebrew anymore, the language has been interpreted and translated throughout mankind in many different ways. It's a dialect that will never die out anytime soon.


@Hazali - In my opinion, one of the problems with other languages is that some are so obscure that few speak them, and even when they do, it's in a marginal part of society. And yes, I agree with you. Hopefully, not too many languages end up lost in the future. Also, I noticed how you said that English is one of the major languages. While this may be true to an extent, if you reread the third bullet point, notice how it says that Mandarin Chinese is the most dominant.


It's amazing how there are so many languages worldwide. However, it's quite unfortunate that many are dying out. In the next ten years or so, I wonder how many types will be left. After all, is it just me, or does English seem like one of the dominant languages? Many people speak it, and even in other dialects, English is incorporated, thus creating a pseudo-dialect of sorts. Spanglish is one of the few examples.

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