Language policies and terminology policies in Canada

Nelida Chan
Table of contents

In Canada, language and language policies are important strands woven into the linguistic and cultural fabric of the country. They play an integral role in shaping Canadian society. To fully understand the role of language and language policy in Canada, one must first understand the linguistic demographic of the population and the corresponding terminology. Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages, English and French. Hence, the expression linguistic duality is at the heart of the Canadian identity. This does not mean all Canadians must speak the two official languages; on the contrary, Canadian language policies aim to protect the right of Canadians to use the official language of their choice. French speakers (Francophones) reside predominantly in the province of Québec where French is the predominant official language and Francophones outside of Québec, i.e., in the other provinces and territories, form the official-language minority. English speakers (Anglophones) reside predominantly in the other nine Canadian provinces and three territories and form the linguistic majority but in Québec, Anglophones form the official-language minority. Canadians who report English as their mother tongue make up 58% of the population while those who have French as their mother tongue make up 22% of the population (Statistics Canada 2012, Linguistic Characteristics of Canadians: Language, 2011 Census of Population).

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