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English-Speaking Quebecers

English-speakers in Québec form a linguistic minority from a wide range of ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds and with many regional differences. The presence of this minority dates back to the French Regime, but coherent communities developed only after the British Conquest. The proportion of English-speakers increased in the years leading up to Confederation , followed by a gradual decline, particularly in the regions outside Montréal.

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Eh

The interjection eh — as in “I know, eh?” — is popularly considered to be a marker of Canadian speech. Canadians use eh more frequently than in any other country, and also have the most varied usage of the interjection. While eh has only two main constructions in England (as a request for repetition and to mark a question), there are 10 popular functions of eh in Canada, making it a true Canadianism. However, studies suggest that its usage is in decline, particularly among young, urbane Canadians. (See also Canadian English.)

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Canadian English

English is one of Canada’s two official languages. According to the 2016 Canadian census, English is the mother tongue of approximately 19.5 million people, or 57 per cent of the population, and the first official language of about 26 million people, or 75 per cent of the Canadian population.

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Canadian Identity and Language

Language policy in Canada, as it relates to Canadian identity, traditionally encompasses three points of view. One favours an officially bilingual Canada. It reaffirms the country as the product of two “founding peoples.” A version of this approach, introduced by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, endorses official bilingualism but rejects the claim that two “peoples” or “nations” deserve any special recognition. Rather, it argues that we should instead emphasize Canada’s multiculturalism. The second position argues that, since no linguistic group deserves special status, the country should therefore have no official languages. The third position argues that Canada is not only multicultural, but also multinational. It argues that French and English should have official status because this recognizes two of the country’s founding nations. This approach also suggests that efforts should be made to help preserve Indigenous languages.

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Canadian Parents for French

Canadian Parents for French is a national organization of parents dedicated to the expansion of French second-language learning opportunities for young Canadians. Primarily driven by the volunteer efforts of parents, it has been the leading organization in Canada dedicated to the expansion of French immersion programs and the improvement of French second-language learning programs since the 1970s.

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Zed

Zed is the name of the letter Z. The pronunciation zed is more commonly used in Canadian English than zee. English speakers in other Commonwealth countries also prefer the pronunciation zed. As zed is the British pronunciation and zee is chiefly American, zed represents one of the rare occasions in which most Canadians prefer the British to the American pronunciation. Use of zee is often stigmatized among Canadian English speakers, which is likely the reason why zee has not taken root as quickly as other influences from American English.

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Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism

One of the most influential commissions in Canadian history, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (1963–69) brought about sweeping changes to federal and provincial language policy. The commission was a response to the growing unrest among French Canadians in Quebec, who called for the protection of their language and culture, and opportunities to participate fully in political and economic decision making. The commission's findings led to changes in French education across the country, and the creation of the federal department of  multiculturalism and the Official Languages Act.

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Official Languages Act (1988)

The Official Languages Act (1988) consolidates all of the changes made to the Official Languages Act of 1969, providing more detail and making them clearer within a new legislative framework. This version highlights the responsibilities of federal institutions with respect to the official languages (see also Language Policy in Canada).

This is the full-length entry about the Official Languages Act of 1988. For a plain language summary, please see The Official Languages Act (1988) (Plain Language Summary).

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French Language in Canada

French is one of Canada’s two official languages. Although every province in Canada has people whose mother tongue is French, Québec is the only province where speakers of French are in the majority. In 2011, 7,054,975 people in Canada (21 per cent of the country’s population) had French as their mother tongue.

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Language Policy in Canada

Language policy is comprised of a body of theory, principles, laws, programs and measures designed to manage one or more languages in a country. In monolingual societies, language policy is usually concerned with promoting an approved, standardized grammar of the common language. In bilingual or multilingual societies, it is intended to manage situations in which two or more languages are in contact and/or conflict, and to enhance the use and status of certain languages over others. Language policy in Canada has been designed to manage historical relationships among multiple languages – notably FrenchEnglish and Indigenous languages - and their various communities. While it has evolved over time, Canadian language policy has not always been marked by positive or just measures.

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Chinook Wawa

Chinook Jargon or Chinook Wawa — wawa meaning "talk" — is a pidgin language that was prevalent in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest in the 1800s and early 1900s. Its small vocabulary and simplified grammar and sound system made it ideal for communication between diverse communities, especially those engaged in trade. The language is based on Lower Chinook, Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka), French, ​English, with some contributions from Salishan, and other ​Indigenous languages. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 people could speak Chinook Wawa in 1875, and it was used widely in court testimony, newspaper advertising, missionary activity among Indigenous peoples, and everyday conversation from central British Columbia to northern California.

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Ontario Schools Question

The Ontario schools question was the first major schools issue to focus on language rather than religion. In Ontario, French or French-language education remained a contentious issue for nearly a century, from 1890 to 1980, with English-speaking Catholics and Protestants aligned against French-speaking Catholics.