French and English speakers use the same language to talk online, according to a survey.
French speakers are much more likely than English speakers to say they can communicate with each other via e-mail, Skype or WhatsApp, the research shows.
But the two languages differ on a few other aspects.
The survey of 10,000 French and 10,500 Spanish speakers across six countries – France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands – showed the gap between the two countries widened over the past year.
The survey also found French speakers were less likely than Spanish speakers to have a good understanding of the differences between English and French.
They were also less likely to understand differences between French and French-English terms.
“It is not the first time we have seen a gap between French-French speakers and English-English speakers,” says the study, which was conducted by linguistics researcher Olivier Leval, director of the Université de Paris-Sud and head of the Language Project at the French Academy of Sciences.
“There are more French-speaking speakers in Europe than there are Spanish speakers, and so we are seeing the impact of this,” he adds.
“The gap between these two languages is widening, and this is a problem.”‘
A new world of communication’Over the past six years, French and Spaniards have exchanged over 300 million e-mails, text messages and telephone calls, according a report by the European Union.
The gap has grown wider over time.
In 2013, for example, English and Spanish had nearly the same number of people using e-mails, and Spanish was the third most used language.
But the French government is now calling for French-Spanish bilingualism in schools.
In January this year, the Spanish government launched a programme to help French-speakers learn English and improve their English skills in schools by offering a Spanish language language learning programme.
But despite such initiatives, French speakers still account for less than half of the total Spanish population, and there are still large gaps in knowledge between the languages.
“What this means is that the French language is still far behind the English language,” Leval says.
“So it will be important for French speakers to understand what the other languages are doing and how they communicate.”
He says the gap has to do with the fact that the two are two different languages, and how people talk to each other.
For example, when French speakers want to say something in English, they can say something like, ‘Ah, ah, ahhhhh’, or ‘He is going to say that’, or even ‘He will say that’.
“There is a gap when it comes to how to say ‘I am going to do something’.
There is a language barrier between French, and English,” he says.
The results of the new survey also showed that Spanish speakers were the most likely to think that their language was better than French.
“We have to remember that the Spanish language is spoken by many more people in the world than the French one, and that there is still a gap there,” says Leval.
The new study comes as part of a wider survey of how the two main languages communicate, and as the UK prepares to leave the EU.
The government has said that it is looking to negotiate a future relationship with the European Economic Area, a grouping of 28 countries that includes France.
French President Emmanuel Macron has previously warned against leaving the EU, but his spokesman later said that would not happen without a deal on Brexit.
“This study does not show that a future French-EU relationship will not be possible,” spokesman Nicolas Hulot said.