Language in Canada

From Academic Kids

This article presents the current demolinguistics of Canada.

Contents

Overview

  • Population of Canada: 29.6 million (2001)
  • Official languages: English and French (de jure)
  • Majority group: Anglophone (59.3%)
  • Minority groups: Francophone (22.7%), Chinese, Italian, German, Aboriginal languages

Note: The language by mother tongue is always used unless otherwise specified.

Demolinguistic descriptors

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 Statistics Canada.

First Official Language Spoken: This is a composite measure of mother tongue, home language and knowledge of official language. It was developed by Statistics Canada.

Language composition

Of the 29.6 million citizens of Canada, 17.5 million are native English speakers, 6.7 million are native French-speakers and 5.2 million are native speakers of neither of Canada's two official languages.

Statistics Canada, 2001

  1. English 17,352,315
  2. French 6,703,325
  3. Chinese 853,745
  4. Italian 469,485
  5. German 438,080
  6. Punjabi 271,220
  7. Spanish 245,500
  8. Portuguese 213,815
  9. Polish 208,375
  10. Arabic 199,940
  11. Tagalog 174,060
  12. Ukrainian 148,090
  13. Dutch 128,670
  14. Vietnamese 122,055
  15. Greek 120,365
  16. Russian 94,555
  17. Persian 94,095
  18. Tamil 90,010
  19. Korean 85,070
  20. Urdu 80,895
  21. Hungarian 75,555
  22. Cree 72,800
  23. Gujarati 57,555
  24. Hindi 56,325
  25. Croatian 54,880
  26. Romanian 50,895
  27. Serbian 41,180
  28. Japanese 34,815
  29. Bengali 29,505
  30. Inuktitut 29,005
  31. Armenian 27,350
  32. Serbo-Croatian 26,690
  33. Somali 26,110
  34. Czech 24,790
  35. Finnish 22,405
  36. Ojibway 21,000
  37. Yiddish 19,295
  38. Turkish 18,675
  39. Danish 18,230
  40. Slovak 17,545
  41. Macedonian 16,905
  42. Khmer 15,985
  43. Lao 12,945
  44. Slovenian 12,800
  45. Hebrew 12,435
  46. Twi 11,070

Geographic distribution

The population of Canada being unequally distributed throughout a vast territory, a look at the population of each of its ten provinces and three territories is helpful. The following table details the population of each province and territory by mother tongue.

Province/Territory Total population English French Other languages
Ontario 11,285,550 8,079,500 (71.6%) 493,630 (4.4%) 2,672,080 (23.7%)
Quebec 7,125,580 572,085 (8.0%) 5,788,655 (81.2%) 709,425 (10.0%)
British Columbia 3,868,875 2,865,300 (74.1%) 56,100 (1.5%) 939,945 (24.3%)
Alberta 2,941,150 2,405,935 (81.8%) 59,735 (2.0%) 469,225 (16.0%)
Manitoba 1,103,700 863,980 (75.8%) 44,775 (4.1%) 219,160 (19.9%)
Saskatchewan 963,150 825,865 (85.7%) 18,035 (1.9%) 117,765 (12.2%)
Nova Scotia 897,570 834,315 (93.0%) 34,155 (3.8%) 26,510 (3.0%)
New Brunswick 719,710 465,720 (64.7%) 236,775 (32.9%) 11,935 (1.7%)
Newfoundland 508,075 500,065 (98.4%) 2,180 (0.4%) 5,495 (1.1%)
Prince Edward Island 133,385 125,215 (93.9%) 5,670 (4.3%) 2,065 (1.5%)
Northwest Territories 37,105 28,985 (78.1%) 965 (2.6%) 7,065 (19.0%)
Yukon 28,525 24,840 (87.1%) 890 (3.1%) 2,700 (9.5%)
Nunavut 26,665 7,370 (27.6%) 400 (1.5%) 18,875 (70.8%)
Source: Statistics Canada, 2001 population census. (Figures combine single and multiple responses).

Aboriginals

The 800 000 aboriginals of Canada (3%) speak 50 different languages. The most important languages still used are Cree, Inuktitut, Ojibway, Innu, and Micmac. A 1996 census revealed that about 67.8% of Aboriginals reported to be native English speakers. Nearly half (47%) of the Aboriginal population in Quebec reported an Aboriginal language as mother tongue, the highest proportion of any province.

Allophones

Languages other than the official languages are important in Canada, with 5,470,820 people listing a non-official language as a first language. Among the most important non-official first language groups are Chinese (853,745 first-language speakers), especially Cantonese (322,315); Italian (469,485); and German (438,080).

Francophones

The francophones of Canada numbered some 6.7 million individuals in 2001. 90% of francophones reside in Quebec. There are also French Canadian communities in North and Eastern Ontario and Southern Manitoba, as well as influential communities of Acadians in New Brunswick ,Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. In addition to Canadian-born francophones, numerous French-speaking people from Haiti, Congo, Lebanon, Morocco, Rwanda, Syria, Algeria, France and Belgium have immigrated to Quebec and Francophone Ontario since the 1960s.

Constitutional basis of bilingualism

The principles of Bilingualism in Canada are protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which establishes that:

  • French and English are equal to each other as official languages;
  • Debate in Parliament may take place in either official language;
  • 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.

See also

External links

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