(News release) MONTREAL, Oct. 24, 2012 / CNW Telbec / - Statistics Canada today released 2011 census data on the demolinguistic situation in Quebec and Canada. The results show an unequivocal downward trend for French.
In Canada as a whole, the weight of French is 21.7% as mother tongue and 21.0% as language spoken at home, a drop of 0.4 points in five years for each of the indicators. The weight of French among the official languages is also decreasing. Outside of Quebec, French is mainly spoken at home by only 2.4% of individuals.
“In addition to a decline in French as a mother tongue and as a language of use, there is a worrying decline in knowledge of French in Canada, mainly due to a decline in bilingualism among Anglophones. In twenty years, knowledge of French has never been so low in the country ”underlines Patrick Sabourin, president of IRFA.
The indicators are also down in Quebec, where French as a mother tongue fell by 0.7 points compared to 2006, standing at 78.9%, while the language spoken most often at home fell by 0 , 6 point to reach 81.2%. However, it is in Montreal that the situation is most worrying:
“French as a language spoken at home continued to decline from 54.2% in 2006 to 53.0% in 2011. The exodus of Francophones to the suburbs does not fully explain this decline, French having declined by 0.7 point in the entire Montreal metropolitan area, ”explains Patrick Sabourin.
Bilingualism has increased overall in Quebec thanks to an increase in knowledge of English among Francophones, which rose from 35.8% in 2006 to 38.3% in 2011. Bilingualism rates decreased slightly among Anglophones and allophones. A little more than 5% of Quebecers, or 440,000 people, do not know enough French to conduct a conversation. This proportion reaches 14% on the island of Montreal.
The census confirms the trends observed in recent decades, namely a marginalization of French throughout Canada and a slow and robust decline in Quebec. “In Quebec, the slight increase in language transfers to French is not enough to slow down the decline. Even if these transfers have crossed the psychological bar of 50%, we are still very far from the threshold of 90% which would allow demographic balance ”concludes Mr. Sabourin.
Founded in 2008, the Institute for Research on French in America (IRFA) has three missions: scientific research (enrichment of knowledge), training (constitution of a new generation of scientists) and the dissemination of information (development of the critical spirit of citizens regarding the language issue).
SOURCE: Institute for Research on French in America