- Spoken languages of Canada
Source: Statistics Canada, "2006 Census Profile of Federal Electoral Districts (2003 Representation Order): Language, Mobility and Migration and Immigration and Citizenship". (Figures combine single and multiple responses. Multiple responses for “French/English”, “French/Other” and “English/Other” were allocated with one-half of all respondents placed in either linguistic category. Multiple responses for English/French/Other” were allocated with one-third of all respondents being placed in each of the three categories.).
Use of English
In 2006, just under 20.6 million Canadians spoke English at home. English is the major language in all provinces except Quebec, where it is the preferred language of only 10.5% of the population. Only 3.6% of Canada's English-speaking population resides in Quebec--mostly in Montreal.
Use of French
In 2006, just over 6.6 million Canadians spoke French at home. Of these, 91.2% resided in
Quebec. Outside Quebec, the largest French-speaking populations are found in New Brunswick(which is home to 3.5% of Canada’s francophones) and Ontario(4.4%, residing primarily in the eastern and northeastern parts of the province and in Toronto). Smaller indigenous French-speaking communities exist in some other provinces. For example, a vestigial community exists on Newfoundland's Port au Port Peninsula; a remnant of French occupation of the island.
In addition to francophones of
French-Canadianand Acadianorigin, many francophones of Haiti, France, Belgium, Morocco, Lebanonand Switzerlandhave emigrated to Quebecsince the early 1960s. As a result of this wave of immigration and the assimilation of many earlier generations of non-francophone immigrants (Irish, English, Italian, Portuguese, etc.), Canadian-born francophones of Quebec are of diverse ethnic origin. Five francophone Premiers of Quebec have been of British ethnic origin, as defined by Statistics Canada: John Jones Ross, Edmund James Flynn, Daniel Johnson, Sr., Pierre-Marc Johnsonand Daniel Johnson, Jr.
The assimilation of francophones outside Quebec into the English-Canadian society means that outside Quebec, over one million Canadians who claim English as their mother tongue are of French ethnic origin. (1991 Census, ethnic origin and mother tongue, by province).
Personal French-English bilingualism
Knowledge of each of the official languages is nearly universal in the parts of the country where it predominates, but relatively rare in the part where it is not predominant. The statistics reveal a significant division between language knowledge in
Quebecand in the Rest of Canada.
Outside Quebec, almost 99% of Canadians know how to speak English, but only about 10% know how to speak French. Within Quebec, the situation is reversed: about 95% of Quebec residents speak French, but only about 37% can conduct a conversation in English.
Thus, even though most Quebecers are unilingual, a majority of bilingual Canadians come from the province.
Non-official languages that are unique to Canada
According to the 2006 census, just over 250,000 Canadians know how to speak one or more of the country's top 25 aboriginal languages. About half this number (129,865) reported using an aboriginal language on a daily basis. The most widely-spoken languages are Cree,
Inuktitut, Ojibway, Innu, and Dene.
Most widely-spoken aboriginal languages
The following are the top twenty-five aboriginal languages spoken in Canada.
Source: Statistics Canada, "2006 Census Profile of Federal Electoral Districts (2003 Representation Order): Language, Mobility and Migration and Immigration and Citizenship" Ottawa, 2007, pp. 2, 6, 10.
Canadian dialects of European languages
Scottish Gaelic was spoken by many immigrants who settled in the
Maritimes. Scottish Gaelic was spoken predominantly in New Brunswick's Restigouche River valley, central and southeastern Prince Edward Island, and across the whole of northern Nova Scotia--particularly Cape Breton Island.
While the language has mostly disappeared, regional pockets persist. These are mostly centred on families deeply committed to their Celtic traditions. Nova Scotia currently has 500-1000 fluent speakers, mostly in northwestern
Cape Breton Island.
There have been attempts in Nova Scotia to institute Gaelic immersion on the model of
French immersion. As well, formal post-secondary studies in Gaelic language and culture are available through St. Francis Xavier University, Saint Mary's University, and the Gaelic College. Newfoundland Irish
Some of the original immigrants to Newfoundland were native speakers of Irish, who passed on a version of their language to their children. As a result, Newfoundland became the only place outside Europe to have its own Irish dialect. Newfoundland was also the only place outside Europe to have its own distinct name in Irish: "Talamh an Éisc", which means 'land of the fish'. The Irish language is now extinct in Newfoundland.
= Welsh =
Also the use of the Welsh is found in Newfoundland from previous Welsh settlement since the 17th century from
Waleswhere it is the country's co-official language. Also there was an influx of Patagonian Welsh from Argentinasettled in Canada after the 1982 Falkland Islands Warwhen Great Britainsuccessfully ousted Argentine troops from the disputed British colony with Argentina. About 1,000 fluent speakers of Welsh are found in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but Welsh-Argentines are fluent in Spanish as well in English. Acadian French
A unique form of
Canadian Frenchwhich incorporates not only distinctly Canadian phrases but also nautical terms, English loan words, linguistic featues found only in older forms of French as well as ones found in the Maritime Englishdialect. Canadian Ukrainian
Canada is also home to a distinct dialect of the
Ukrainian language, spoken mostly in Western Canada by the descendants of first two waves of Ukrainian settlement in Canada who developed in a degree of isolation from their cousins in what was then Poland, Austria-Hungary, and the Soviet Union. Doukhobor Russian
Doukhoborcommunity, especially in Grand Forks and Castlegar, British Columbia, has kept its distinct dialect of Russian. It has a lot in common with South Russian dialects, showing some common features with Ukrainian. This dialect's versions are becoming extinct in their home regions of Georgia and Russiawhere the Doukhobors have split into smaller groups.
The meagerly documented
Bungee language(also known as Bungy, Bungie, Bungay, and as the Red River Dialect) is a dialect of English which evolved within the Prairie Metis community. It is influenced by Creeand Scots Gaelic. Bungee was spoken in the Red River area of Manitoba. In 1989, at the time of the only academic study ever undertaken on the language, only six speakers of Bungee were known to still be alive. Pidgins, mixed languages, & trade languages
In Canada as elsewhere in the world of European colonization, the frontier of European exploration and settlement tended to be a linguistically diverse and fluid place, as cultures using different languages met and interacted. The need for a common means of communication between the indigenous inhabitants and new arrivals for the purposes of trade and (in some cases) intermarriage led to the development of hybrid languages. These languages tended to be highly localized, were often spoken by only a small number of individuals who were frequently capable of speaking another language, and often persisted only briefly, before being wiped out by the arrival of a large population of permanent settlers, speaking either English or French.
Michif Michif(also known as Mitchif, Mechif, Michif-Cree, Métif, Métchif and French Cree) is a mixed languagewhich evolved within the Prairie Metis community. It is based on elements of Cree, Ojibwa, Assiniboine and French. Michif is today spoken by less than 1,000 individuals in Saskatchewan, Manitobaand North Dakota. At its peak, around 1900, Michif was understood by perhaps three times this number.
In the 16th century, a Basque pidgin developed in coastal areas along the
Gulf of St. Lawrenceand the Strait of Belle Isleas the result of contact between Basque whalers and local aboriginals. Chinook Jargon
British Columbia, Yukonand throughout the Pacific Northwesta pidgin language known as the Chinook Jargonemerged in the early 19th Century which was a combination of Chinookan, Nootka, Chehalis, French and English, with a smattering of words from other languages including Hawaiian and Spanish. [ [http://www.cayoosh.net/hiyu/ Chinook Jargon website] ] Certain words and expressions remain current in local use. FranglaisAnd Chiac
A portmanteau language which is said to combine English and French syntax, grammar and lexicons to form a unique interlanguage, sometimes ascribed to mandatory basic French education in the Canadian anglophone school systems. While many Canadians are barely conversant in French they will often borrow French words into their sentences. Simple words and phrases like "quest que c'est ca?" (what is that?) or words like "arrete" (stop) can alternate with their English counterparts. This phenomena is more common in the Eastern half of the country where there is a greater density of Francophone populations.
Franglaiscan also refer to the supposed degradation of the French language thanks to the overwhelming impact English Canadian has on the country's Francophone inhabitants, though many linguists would argue that while English vocabulary can be freely borrowed as a stylistic device, the grammar of French has been resistant to influences from English [Poplack, Shana (1988) Conséquences linguistiques du contact de langues: un modèle d’analyse variationniste. "Langage et société" 43: 23-48.] and the same conservatism holds true in Canadian English grammar [Poplack, Shana, Walker, James & Malcolmson, Rebecca. 2006. An English “like no other”?: Language contact and change in Quebec. "Canadian Journal of Linguistics." 185-213.] , even in Quebec City. One interesting example of is Chiac, popularly a combination of Acadian Frenchand Canadian English, but actually an unmistakeable variety of French, which is native to the Maritimes(particularly New Brunswickwhich has a large Acadian population).
Mother tongue: The language spoken by the mother or the person responsible for taking care of the child is the most basic measure of a population's language. However, with the high number of mixed francophone-anglophone marriages and the reality of bilingualism and
trilingualism, this description does not allow to fully determine the real linguistic portrait of Canada. It is, however, still essential, for example in order to calculate the assimilation rate. Home language: This is the language most often spoken at home. This descriptor has the advantage of pointing out the current usage of languages. It however fails to describe the language that is most spoken at work, which may be a different language.
Knowledge of Official Languages: This measure describes which of the two official languages of Canada a person can speak informally. This relies on the person's own evaluation of his/her linguistic competence and can prove misleading. It was developed by
First Official Language Spoken: This is a composite measure of mother tongue, home language and knowledge of official language. It was developed by
Official language minority: Based on first official language learned, but placing half of the people equally proficient in both English and French into each linguistic community; it is used by the Canadian government to define English- and French-speaking communities in order to gauge demand for minority language services in a region.
English and French have equal status in federal courts, Parliament, and in all federal institutions.The public has the right, where there is sufficient demand, to receive federal government services in either English or French. Immigrants who are applying for Canadian citizenship must normally be able to speak either English or French.
*French and English are equal to each other as federal official languages;
*Debate in Parliament may take place in either official language;
*Federal laws shall be printed in both official languages, with equal authority;
*Anyone may deal with any court established by Parliament, in either official language;
*Everyone has the right to receive services from the federal government in his or her choice of official language;
*Members of a minority language group of one of the official languages if learned and still understood (i.e., French speakers in a majority English-speaking province, or vice versa) or received primary school education in that language has the right to have their children receive a public education in their language, where numbers warrant.
Canada's Official Languages Act, first adopted in 1969 and updated in 1988, gives English and French equal status throughout federal institutions.
Official policies of the Provinces and Territories
Until 1977, Quebec was the only officially bilingual province in Canada and most public institutions functioned in both languages. English is also used in the legislature, government commissions and courts. With the adoption of the
Charter of the French Languageby Quebec's National Assemblyin August 1977, however, French became the sole official language of the government of Quebec. However, the French Language Charter also provides certain rights for speakers of English and aboriginal languages and most government services are available in both French and English. Regional institutions in the Nunavikregion of northern Quebec offer services in Inuktitut and Cree.
De facto English only
Most provinces have laws that make either English or both English and French the official language(s) of the legislature and the courts, but may also have separate policies in regards to education and the bureaucracy.
For example, in Alberta, English and French are both official languages of "debate" in the
Legislative Assemblyhowever there is no requirement that laws (invariably drafted solely in English) be translated into French. French can be used in some lower courts, education is offered in both languages, but the bureaucracy functions almost solely in English. Alberta is therefore thought of an officially English province. Ontario and Manitoba are similar but allow for more services in French at the local level.
Ontario, the French Language Services Actensures that the province provides French speaking people with services in the French language.
Alberta, the Alberta School Actprotects the right of French speaking people to receive school instruction in the French language in the province.
Manitoba, the French Language Services Policyguarantees access to provincial government services in French, and various kinds of French-language education is provided.
Only one province (New Brunswick) is officially bilingual. The province's officially bilingual status has been entrenched in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms since the 1980s. As well, all of Canada's three territories explicitly proclaim multiple languages co-official.
The official languages are:
New Brunswick(English and French)
Northwest Territories(Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey and Tłįchǫ or Dogrib).
Nunavut(English, Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, and French)
Yukon(English and French)
In the case of New Brunswick, this means something close to perfect equality. In the other cases, the recognition sometimes amounts to a formal recognition of official languages, but limited services in official languages other than English.
For example, NWT residents have the right to use any of the territory's eleven official languages in a territorial court and in debates and proceedings of the legislature. However, laws are legally binding only in their French and English versions, and the government only publishes laws and other documents in the territory's other official languages when asked by the legislature. Furthermore, access to services in any language is limited to institutions and circumstances where there is significant demand for that language or where it is reasonable to expect it given the nature of the services requested. In reality, this means that English language services are universally available and there is no guarantee that other languages, including French, will be used by any particular government service except for the courts.
Demographics of Canada
Immigration to Canada
Constitution of Canada
Official bilingualism in Canada
French in Canada
Scottish Gaelic in Canada
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=CA Ethnologue report for Canada]
* [http://www.statcan.ca/english/Pgdb/popula.htm#lan Statistics Canada: Canadian Statistics: Population]
* [http://atlas.gc.ca/site/english/maps/peopleandsociety/lang/languages2001/mt The Atlas of Canada - Mother tongue]
* [http://atlas.gc.ca/site/english/maps/peopleandsociety/lang/officiallanguages/englishfrenchbilingualism The Atlas of Canada - English-French Bilingualism]
* [http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/980113/d980113.htm 1996 Census: Aboriginal data]
* [http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/amnord/cnddemo-POP1autoch.htm Population autochtone du Canada] (in French)
* [http://www.muturzikin.com/cartecanada.htm Linguistic maps of Canada] with 50 indigenous languages
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