Luxembourgish ("Lëtzebuergesch") is the national language, while French is the administrative language. German is also widely used and almost universally understood. Luxembourgish is a separate and unique language, having previously evolved from a German dialect ("Moselfränkisch"). German (Hochdeutsch) enjoys official status and appears in some media and is used in the court system and is taught in schools. However, everything from road signs, to menus to information in stores will appear in French. French therefore is clearly the most useful of the three languages to know, essentially making Luxembourg a Francophone country for the visitor with the exception of places close to the German border such as Diekirch or Echternach.
Over one third of Luxembourg's overall population is made up of foreigners, and this figure rises to around 50% in the cities. Hence, again knowing French is your best bet if you want to converse with most people, especially as people working in shops and bars usually come from France or Belgium and don't bother to learn the local native language. English is widely understood by such personnel as bus drivers, but many shop assistants will only respond if addressed in French or German. Educated Luxembourgers are fluent in all four of the above languages; it is the "frontaliers" (workers who live across one of the borders) who may not speak English well or at all. Apart from the more elderly inhabitants, virtually every Luxembourger understands and speaks fluent standard German and French. Luxembourgers are the polyglots of Europe, perhaps making even the Swiss jealous!
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