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UN says 274 million people speak French globally

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A UN spokesman said Tuesday, which coincides with the UN French Language Day, that 274 million people around the globe speak French, Xinhua reported.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said at the daily briefing that “274 million women and men speak French globally, and today they have the opportunity to celebrate their shared language and the diversity of the Francophonie, through word competitions, shows, film festivals, literary meetings, gastronomic events and art exhibitions.”

By 2050, the number of Francophone speakers is expected to reach 700 million, according to the Paris-based International Francophonie Organization, with 80 percent of them in Africa. But today, despite its status as a top official language, French is in retreat at international bodies like the United Nations and European Union.

Some French-speaking ambassadors to the United Nations and the International Francophonie Organization, together with the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the United Nations, will launch a concert Tuesday evening to mark the French Language Day.

UN French Language Day is observed annually on March 20. The event was established by UN’s DPI in 2010 to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the United Nations.

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