Sunday, October 28, 2007

There are a multitude of languages spoken in Canada, but only English, French and certain aboriginal languages have official status. The Constitution of Canada itself recognizes two official languages, English and French, and all constitutional acts since 1982 have themselves been enacted in these two official languages. The English version of earlier Constitutional Acts is the only official version. Inuktitut notably has official status in the Northwest Territories, in Nunavut and in Nunavik, Quebec.
The first major step towards official recognition of languages other than English took place on July 7, 1969, when the federal Canadian Parliament adopted the Official Languages Act, making French commensurate to English throughout federal institutions. Since then, Inuktitut, Dene Suline, Cree, Dogrib, Gwich'in and Slavey have also gained limited official status, although only English and French are used for administrative matters by the federal, provincial and territorial administrations.
According to the 2001 census, Anglophones and Francophone represent roughly 59.3% and 22.9% of the population respectively. The rest of the population represent persons whose mother tongues are Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Italian, German, Aboriginal languages, or other.
The following article refers to language by mother tongue unless otherwise specified.

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. While multiculturalism is an official policy of the federal government, to obtain Canadian citizenship, a candidate must normally be able to speak either English or French.
The principles of bilingualism in Canada are protected in sections 16 to 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 which establishes that:
New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province, a status specifically guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982. Some provincial governments which are not officially bilingual, notably Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, offer services to their official language minority populations.
Until 1977, however, Quebec was the only officially bilingual province in Canada and most public institutions functioned in both languages. With the adoption of the Charter of the French Language by Quebec's National Assembly in 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 Northern Quebec notably offer services in Inuktitut and Cree.
All three federal territories recognize both English and French as official languages, although English is the only language used for administrative purposes. Dene Suline, Cree, Dogrib, Gwich'in and Slavey also have some official status in the Northwest Territories. Inuktitut, which is the majority language in both Nunavut and Nunavik, also has official status in both territories.

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. Languages of Canada Official bilingualism
More than 98% of Canadian residents speak either English or French. While the federal government remains officially bilingual, almost 99% of Canadian residents outside Quebec speak English and about 95% of Quebec residents speak French (2001 Census). Most Canadians outside Quebec are fluent only in English and many Quebeckers are fluent only in French.
About 40% of Quebec residents and about 10% of the population residing outside Quebec claim to be bilingual (2001 Census). All together, 18% of Canadian residents speak both English and French, according to the answers they provided to Statistics Canada. Thus, a majority of bilingual Canadians are themselves Quebeckers.
French is mostly spoken in Quebec, in New Brunswick, in Eastern and Northern Ontario, in southern Manitoba as well as in several communities in the other provinces. A distinct community also exists on Newfoundland's Port-au-Port peninsula; a remnant of French occupation of the island. Canada's francophones numbered some 6.9 million individuals in 2001. Of these, 85% resided in Quebec. In addition to francophones of French-Canadian and Acadian origin, many francophones of Haiti, France, Belgium, Morocco, Lebanon and Switzerland have emigrated to Quebec since the early 1960s. As a result of this wave of immigration and the assimilation of many earlier generations of non-francophone immigrants (Irish, English, French, 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 Johnson and Daniel Johnson, Jr.
The assimilation of francophones outside Quebec into the English-Canadian society signifies that most francophones outside Quebec are generally of French-Canadian or Acadian origin, with the exception of recent immigrants from the francophone world. Over one million Canadians of French ethnic origin living outside of Quebec have English as their mother tongue (1991 Census, ethnic origin and mother tongue, by province).

Other languages
See also: Canadian Gaelic and Newfoundland Irish
Irish and Scottish Gaelic were spoken by many immigrants that settled in the Maritimes and Newfoundland. Newfoundland is the only place outside Europe to have its own Irish dialect, Newfoundland Irish, and the only place outside Europe to have its own distinct name in Irish, Talamh an Éisc, meaning 'land of the fish'. The Irish language is rare in Newfoundland now. Scottish Gaelic was spoken predominantly in areas of northern New Brunswick's Restigouche River valley, central and southeastern Prince Edward Island, as well as across the whole of northern Nova Scotia and particularly Cape Breton Island. While the language has mostly disappeared, there are regional pockets 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 are also attempts in Nova Scotia to institute Gaelic immersion and there are formal post-secondary studies in the language and culture available through St. Francis Xavier University and the Gaelic College. In western Canada, Scottish Gaelic was mixed with Cree to form the Bungee language. At one point a motion was tabled in Parliament that Gaelic be made the third official language of the Dominion, but did not pass.


Main article: Canadian Ukrainian Ukrainian
Some members of the 900,000 Indigenous people in Canada (3%) speak one or more of fifty different languages. The most important languages still used are Cree, Inuktitut, Ojibway, Innu, and Mi'kmaq. A 1996 census revealed that about 67.8% of Indigenous people reported to be native English speakers. Nearly half (47%) of Indigenous people in Quebec reported an Indigenous language as mother tongue, the highest proportion of any province.

Languages of Canada Indigenous languages

Hybrid languages
Linguistic and cultural diversity on Canada's frontier in the West and in its early past in the Atlantic promoted the development of hybrid languages, most notably Michif, a "mixed language" of Cree-Ojibwa-Assiniboine-French evolved within the Prairie Metis community, and also the less documented Bungie (also Bungy, Bungee, Bungay, a.k.a. the Red River Dialect), which is similar to Michif but confined to the Red River area of Manitoba and which is a mix of Cree and Scots Gaelic.

Michif and Bungay
In the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Cartier's day the existence of a Basque pidgin has been established, apparently a mix of local Algonkian languages and Basque.

Basque pidgin
In British Columbia, Yukon and throughout the Pacific Northwest a pidgin language known as the Chinook Jargon emerged 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.

Chinook Jargon
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.
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 guage demand for minority language services in a region.

Demolinguistic descriptors
Of the 29.6 million citizens of Canada in 2001 (increasing to roughly 33 million in June 2006), 17.3 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. Another 380 thousand reported having more than one mother tongue.
Statistics Canada, 2001

English 17,352,315
French 6,703,325
Chinese 753,745
Vietnamese 631,055
Spanish 480,715
Italian 469,485
German 438,080
Punjabi 271,220
English and a language other than French 219,860
Portuguese 213,815
Polish 208,375
Arabic 199,940
Tagalog 154,060
Ukrainian 148,090
Dutch 128,670
Greek 120,365
English and French 112,575
Russian 94,555
Persian 94,095
Tamil 90,010
Korean 85,070
Urdu 80,895
Hungarian 75,555
Cree 72,800
Gujarati 57,555
Hindi 56,325
Croatian 54,880
Romanian 50,895
Serbian 41,180
French and a language other than English 38,630
Japanese 34,815
Bengali 29,505
Inuktitut 29,005
Armenian 27,350
Serbo-Croatian 26,690
Somali 26,110
Czech 24,790
Finnish 22,405
Ojibway 21,000
Yiddish 19,295
Turkish 18,675
Danish 18,230
Slovak 17,545
Macedonian 16,905
Slovenian 12,800
Hebrew 12,435
Twi 11,070
Estonian 10,848
English, French and another language 10,085 Language composition by Mother Tongue
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.

Protection of Minority Language Speakers

Demographics of Canada
Immigration to Canada
Constitution of Canada
Bilingualism in Canada
French in Canada
Canadian English
Newfoundland English
Quebec English
Quebec French
Acadian French
Newfoundland French
Newfoundland Irish
Scottish Gaelic in Canada
Chinook Jargon
Canadian Ukrainian
Category:Languages of Canada
Category:Indigenous languages of the North American Arctic
Category:Indigenous languages of the North American Northwest Coast
Category:Indigenous languages of the North American Plains
Category:Indigenous languages of the North American Plateau
Category:Indigenous languages of the North American Subarctic
Category:Indigenous languages of the North American eastern woodlands

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