Languages | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • Article

    Anishinaabemowin: Ojibwe Language

    Anishinaabemowin (also called Ojibwemowin, the Ojibwe/Ojibwa language, or Chippewa) is an Indigenous language, generally spanning from Manitoba to Québec, with a strong concentration around the Great Lakes. Elders share that the term Anishinaabemowin acknowledges the creation story of the Ojibwe people: “Anishinaabe” means “the spirit that is lowered down from above,” “-mo” refers to expression through speech and “-win” refers to the life energy within, used to do so. Linguists also explain that “-win” is a nominalizer that turns the verb Anishinaabemo (“he/she is speaking the Anishinaabe language”) into a noun. According to the 2016 Census, 28,130 people are listed as speaking Anishinaabemowin.

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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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  • Article

    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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  • Article

    Celtic Languages

    The Celtic languages belong to the family of languages known as Indo-European and as such are related to most of the languages of Europe and many others found as far east of Europe as India. Linguists recognize 2 main divisions of Celtic: Continental Celtic and Insular Celtic.

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  • Article


    Chiac (also spelled chiak or chiaque) is a specific type of discursive switching between French and English among individuals who are highly bilingual and have Acadian French as their mother tongue but Canadian English as their first or second language.

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  • Article

    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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  • Article

    Cree Language

    The Cree language (also called Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi) is spoken in many parts of Canada, from the Rocky Mountains in the west to Labrador in the east. Cree is also spoken in northern Montana in the United States. Often written in syllabics (i.e., symbols representing a combination of consonant and vowel, or just a consonant or vowel), Cree is one of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages in Canada. In the 2016 census, 96,575 people reported speaking Cree.

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  • Article

    Deaf Culture

    It is the sign of a people's maturity when they begin to study their own history, language and culture.

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    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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  • Article

    Can. English

    English is one of Canada’s two official languages, spoken as a mother tongue by about 19 million people, or 57 per cent of the population, and by about 68 per cent as a home language (2011 Census of Population).

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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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    Immigrant Languages in Canada

    According to the 2016 census, more Canadians are reporting a mother tongue or language spoken at home other than English or French than in previous years. This is mostly due to the increase in immigrant languages. According to Statistics Canada, immigrant languages are languages “whose presence is initially due to immigration after English and French colonization.”

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  • Article

    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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  • Article


    Joual is the name given, in specific sociological and socio-historical situations, to the variety of French spoken in Québec.

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