Many people across the globe believe that French is the most romantic language and have bestowed the title of ‘Language of love’ upon it.
There are many versions of the history as to why French became the language of love. Some of them have a rich cultural connotation, some folklore and some suggest that it was because of the way the French made love.
One theory suggests that during the 12th century in France, it was a generally accepted fact that true love did not exist in marriages. Marriages during that time were a way to establish business and economic ties between two families and hence true love were idealized. Being in love was termed as ‘honourable and virtuous’. This fact was further supported by literature in which brave knights’ would return home and woo their lord’s spouses. Their love was written to be lofty, pure and spiritual which made hundreds of French readers yearn for something similar. This was referred to as l’amour courtois where the woman was respected and the lover was poetic and filled with virtues.
This revolutionary concept of love was sung about all through southern France by troubadours who were high-minded priests of noble descent. Eventually, their style of lovemaking ‘la fin’amor’ became a social movement wherein many youngsters started to adopt it and wrote about their love in a poetic manner. With time, these troubadours influenced both southern and northern France and their language called ‘Occitan’ mingled with the language in the north to become the ‘language of love’.
Another theory suggests that French, in general, is a smooth language and have very few harsh sounding words. Also, since the Middle Ages, France has been a centre for everything uber – fine arts, food, music, dance, architecture etc. and had weaved an atmosphere where sophistication and finer things in life were praised. Thus, this artistic impression helped in courting which needed a high degree of smoothness to win over the other gender and since the French used this skill more than people of other nationalities, it must have become the ‘language of love’.
Recently, Google had yet again confirmed that French continues to be the language of love in the 21st century as well. Of the phrases most frequently translated into six European languages online – English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian – 34 of the top 1,000 translated into French were about love. “Je t’aime” (I love you) is the most requested translation in French after “bonjour” (hello) while “mon amour” (my love) and “tu me manques” (I miss you) were also top rankers. The second place was bagged by Spanish followed by Russian, Italian and German while English finished last on the list.