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French is not only a European language, but a major language of global diplomacy, trade, culture, and other uses. It is an official language in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and many others in the group of countries known as the Francophonie, including developing countries in Asia, Pacific, Africa, and the Caribbean.

French can be written almost completely in a typewriter style using the ISO 8859-1 character set (essentially ASCII plus accented letters and punctuation from the Latin-1 set). Full French typography is practical in Unicode. Non-ASCII letters required in French include

à á â ç è é ê ë ì í î ï
ò ó ô ö ù ú û ü æ œ

and very rarely ÿ. French uses the guillemets « » as quotation marks. Of these, only œ is not in Latin-1. It is usually acceptable to write out this ligature as oe.

The following is a French pangram, that is, a sentence containing all of the letters in French, according to its author. Note the absence of ÿ.

A l’île exiguë où l'obèse jury mûr fête l'haï volapük, âne ex æquo au whist, ôtez ce vœu déçu.

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