What Language Do Canadians Speak?

Beginning from its must-watch places to its full of its different cultural history, Canada has a full bucket to offer. However, one of Canada’s most distinguishing qualities is its linguistic diversity across its ten provinces.

In Canada, many Indigenous languages are spoken. Approximately 0.6% of Canadians speak an Indigenous language as their first language. According to the current census, Indigenous Canadians grabbing their original language is increasing, implying that not so old Indigenous people are taking it as a second language.

Languages in Canada

In Canada, while visiting the most beautiful cities in Canada, you will get to know that 196 languages are claimed to be spoken. Of which there are two of the official national languages, French and English, others being imported languages such as German and Italian. Furthermore, approximately sixty or so Indigenous languages.

The two official languages of the country are French and English.  With regard to regulations, constitutional rights, and rules, Canada as a country owns a policy that is “official bilingualism,” which means that all government activity must be conducted in both languages, and access to goods and services must be available in both.

People of Canada usually spoke English but French isn’t much behind any language. The prevalence of bilingualism in English and French has peaked at a record level in the country, with about 18% population of Canada being fluent in either language. 

Sole Home Language

Legally, to become a Canadian citizen, one must be proficient in any one of the two languages; French or English, and in fact, it is common for the ones coming to Canada and settling in prosper cities to have restricted competence in all sorts of things other than their mother tongue.

This illustrates one of the major quandaries of multiple cultural Canada: is it even fair for institutions such as banks, clinics, and restaurants to look for newcomers by providing services in their original languages? Is it preferable for national unity to require immigrants to learn the dominant language, even if it makes life difficult for those who do not?

Approximately 15% population of Canada speaks multiple languages than French or English language at home, and 23% population owns a mother tongue that is a non-official language. Mandarin, Canadian, Cantonese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Arabic, Italian, and Punjabi are the languages that are most commonly spoken at home, besides French and English.

Tagalog language, which grew by 35% between 2011 to 2018, is fastly accepted by the locals as one of the indigenous languages, accompanied by Arabic. Non-official language speakers make up 2/3rd of the population in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto. Around 18% population in Vancouver speaks only Cantonese, Punjabi, or Mandarin. 

It is defined as the country with multiple cultures in the world. One can make better decisions, remember things better, and be more resistant to diseases like dementia by being bilingual, among many other benefits.

Several languages are used by Canadians while you think over what language Canadians speak. In addition to French and English, various indigenous languages are used for communication. 

1. The Native Languages and Immigrant Languages

1.1. English

As you may expect, English is the most frequently spoken language in Canada. 98 percent of Canadians assert that they are able to carry on a conversation in either English, French, or both.

Canadians speak English in a style that is a complex combination of British and American pronunciation, with a few particularly Canadian accents that fit within neither tradition. The specific “laws” of Canadian English are sometimes vague and debated. Publishers manufacture “Canadian dictionaries,” and the government of Canada publishes an official guide to “Canadian style,” yet it’s still typical to hear Canadians — even the most educated — dispute about the proper “Canadian way” to spell or pronounce this or that term. Usually, most Canadian teachers teach the kids the rules and teachings that they have learned themselves while they were kids

The fact that the Canadian and American cultures are so similar, the majority of interest in Canadian English revolves around the differences between American and Canadian English standards.

Generally, Canadian English employs the people who use “ou” instead of “o” in words while they pronounce with long “uhr” sounds, (words such as colour and favourite), and “re” to end words with short “uhr” sounds, (words such as center and theatre). Yet there are few of the English terms, (words such as “luf-tenant” for lieutenant and “shed-uale” for schedule), that own an “official”.

The Canadian way of pronunciation is completely different from the typical American practice, yet these norms are not actually followed or practised.

1.2. French

The second-most commonly spoken language by the Canadian population is French, the country’s other official language.

But it’s not just Quebec; there are numerous locations outside of the province with significantly large French-speaking populations. That is why the federal government (Canadian Parliament) ensures that services are available in both official languages at a variety of locations.

The peculiar kind of French spoken by the seven million Canadians who learnt it as their first language reflects the fact that Canada has not experienced significant numbers of French immigration since the 18th century.

While it is obviously difficult to go into too much detail about a foreign language when writing in English, the main differences between Canadian French and what is commonly referred to as “Parisian French” tend to revolve around French-Canadians’ (French-speaking Canadians’) continued use of certain archaic terms, pronunciations and grammar traditions that have been abandoned in modern France (what linguists call archaisms).

Furthermore, le joual, is a collection of unique and occasionally filthy or nonsensical slang phrases adopted by the Quebecois working class.

For political reasons, French-Canadians are also more persistent about avoiding the use of English terminology when referring to new or modern items; for example, in France, l’email is used, whereas, in Quebec, le courriel is used, which is a more precise translation of “electronic mail.”

The majority of French Canadians live in Quebec and are descended from settlers from eastern France. However, there is a significant minority of French-Canadians in Atlantic Canada, known as Acadians, who are descended from a different pattern of migration, primarily from western France.

The Acadian and so-called Franco-Canadian dialects, furthermore the more Parisian dialect of English-Canadians who speak French as a second language, will be noticeable to French speakers.

Canadian French typically sounds rougher or more guttural to an English-speaking ear than European French, a fact popularized by the common prejudice that French Canadians use a lot of hard “de” sounds in their speech, whereas Parisians use smooth “zees.”

People who are ‘Allophones

Allophones are Canadians who do not speak French or English as their first language, and the bulk of these persons are either immigrants or their families.

English and French, Canada’s two official languages, remain languages of convergence, which means that they are taught, spoken, and adopted as the languages of everyday life by many Canadians who do not speak either language natively.

Nearly 7 in 10 Canadians (68.8%) with a non-official mother tongue spoke one of any official languages on a regular basis in 2021. Furthermore, more than one-third (34.8%) spoke primarily in an official language, the same proportion as in 2016.

Canada has a diverse linguistic landscape. The languages recognized and spoken here are inextricably related to Canadians’ identity and culture, and furthermore their interaction with their community. Languages are an important aspect of Canadians’ daily lives, whether in early childhood, at home, at school, or at work, and they extend beyond the country’s borders into broader cultural and historical frameworks.

In addition to the dozen or more languages brought to Canada by immigrants over the previous two centuries, there are several distinct Canadian dialects of common European languages. Some instances are as follows: — Canadian Gaelic is spoken fluently by approximately 1,000 individuals in northwest Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, descended from Scottish Gaelic immigrants. — Newfoundland English, a West Country dialect introduced by the region’s early European residents. — Canadian Ukrainian, a distinct Ukrainian dialect spoken in Western Canada by descendants of different generations of Ukrainian immigrants.

Not only English and French are the answer to what language Canadians speak a lot other languages have been adopted by the population. Here are the other languages that add to the question of what language Canadians speak.

1.3. Mandarin

While 1/5th of Canadians speak French or English as their mother tongue, only around 6.2% of the Canadian population speak a language except French or English as their exclusive home language. Mandarin is most typically heard in major metropolitan areas.

According to a study, over 280,000 of the Greater Toronto Area’s nearly 6.2 million inhabitants, or 4.5 percent, speak Mandarin as their first language.

Mandarin-speaking immigrants to Canada include originates from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

1.4. Punjabi

Punjabi has established itself as one of the most frequently spoken languages in the country. Punjabi is the fourth-ranked language used in Canada, behind French and English.

The most frequently reported immigrant language in Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton is the fifth-most prevalent language spoken at home across the country. Canadians who speak unofficial languages are increasing overall.

Punjabi has risen 49% in the last five years to become Canada’s fourth most spoken language.

Other Indian languages are also flourishing in Canada. According to sources, Hindi speakers climbed by 66% to 92,000, while Gujarati speakers maintained the same but increased by a considerably smaller 43%. Malayalam speakers climbed by 129% to 35,000, ranking it second on the list.

1.5. Cantonese

Cantonese is another Chinese language spoken in Canada, the fifth most common language that is widespread in large cities.

Mandarin speakers in British Columbia, where Vancouver is located, have nearly caught up to – and may soon overtake – the Cantonese-speaking population. The census identified 193,530 Cantonese speakers in a region that has historically been a Cantonese powerhouse.

Vancouver has become a very good place to learn Cantonese; you can learn by watching TV or talking to your neighbours and friends, or you can use it to order meals in restaurants.

2. What Language do Canadians Speak in Different Cities?

The 2011 Census states, approx eighty percent of persons who reported speaking French, English, or an Aboriginal language usually at home resided in one of Canada’s major census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

2.1. Toronto:

Approximately 1.8 million persons said they spoke indigenous languages at home. This translates to nearly 32.2% of Canada’s population and roughly 1.5% of the number of Vancouver residents who acknowledged preferring an immigrant language at home most frequently. The most widely spoken languages were Cantonese, Urdu, Punjabi, and Tamil.

2.2. Montreal

In Montreal, over 62k population speak an indigenous language at home most of the time. Nearly 17% spoke Arabic, and 15 percent spoke Spanish.

2.3. Vancouver

In Vancouver, 712k population identified to be using aboriginal language at home usually on a daily basis. The most common language was Punjabi 18% of the population, followed by Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tagalog. Sixty-four percent of the total population speaks at least one of these four languages at home.

2.4. Calgary

228,000 persons in Calgary do speak an immigrant language at home for their general talks. The most often reported languages were Punjabi (27k population), Tagalog (approx 24k), and a few regional Chinese dialects (21k).

2.5. Edmonton

In Edmonton, 166k people reported speaking an aboriginal language at home casually, with Cantonese, Spanish, Tagalog, and Punjabi, which is comparable to Calgary’s percentage of 47% for these people.

2.6. Gatineau and Ottawa

Gatineau and Ottawa roughly 87 percent of residents in this statistical metropolitan region result of the rising an immigrant language. Arabic, Spanish, Mandarin, and Chinese (non-specified dialects) were the most frequently used native tongues among immigrants. Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, and unnamed Chinese dialects are also supported.

3. Highlights 

  • English is the sole home language of slightly more than three-quarters of Canadians.
  • An increasing number of Canadians speak French as their first official language.
  • It has been reported that more than 200 languages are spoken in Canada. Except for English and French, twenty of them are said to have a hundred thousand speakers each.
  • In Canada, young people are increasingly speaking English rather than French. Since the mid-1990s, immigration has been the primary source of population increase in Canada, and hence the importance of learning French needs to be reinforced across the country.
  • As the second most spoken language, each province has a different immigrant language. Consider the languages Punjabi in British Columbia and Tagalog in Manitoba.
  • Because of the reduced language criteria for immigration, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta attract immigrants who do not speak the national languages.
  • Between 2016 and 2021, Canadians who speak the French language increased in the British and Columbia regions but fell in the other parts of the country.
  • Except for Yukon, the ratio of Canadians who spoke primarily French declined in all other regions of Canada.
  • Quebecers whose first official language is English surpassed one million, and their population share increased as well. In addition, seven out of ten English speakers lived on Montréal Island or in Montérégie.
  • Since 2016, the share of Canadians who are bilingual in English and French has remained nearly constant. Between 2016 and 2021, there was a growth in bilingualism in Quebec (2.3%) more than offset the reduction observed outside Quebec (-0.3%).
  • Four out of ten Canadians can hold a conversation in more than one language. From 2016 to 2021, this percentage increased by 2.2%. In addition, one out of every eleven people speaks three or more other languages.
  • One in four Canadians spoke either French or English in 2021, while one among eight spoke a language other than French or English, which was the highest percentage ever.
  • From 2016 to 2021, Canadians who spoke primarily a South Asian language at home, such as Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi, or Malayalam, increased dramatically, owing to immigration. In fact, the population speaking one of these languages grew at least eight times faster than the general Canadian population over this time period.
  • In contrast, Canadians who speak mostly specific European languages at home, such as Italian, Polish, and Greek, decreased.
  • Aside from English and French, Mandarin and Punjabi other languages spoken. In 2021, more than 500,000 Canadians spoke primarily Mandarin at home, and another 500,000 spoke Punjabi.
  • Seven in ten Canadians whose native tongue is neither French nor English spoke an official language on a frequent basis.
  • Children are more likely to grow up speaking an immigrant language at home, and they learn English primarily when they begin school.
  • 180k persons claimed to have at least one Indigenous mother tongue, and 183k reported regularly speaking an Indigenous language casually in 2021. The main Indigenous languages used are Cree and Inuktitut.

4. Sign Languages in Canada

Not only the question Now it might be clear what language Canadians speak? Raises usually, but the Now it might be clear what sign languages Canadians speak seems to pop up as well.

In addition to the what language do Canadians speak in the spoken word, certain Indigenous societies have historically employed sign languages to communicate. There are people with disabilities which keeps them off the track to either listen or hear the diverse languages and implement like usual people. For such beings sign languages do the best for them. Despite the fact that Indigenous sign languages are only known by a small number of individuals.

4.1. American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete natural language with linguistic features similar to spoken languages and grammar distinct from English. ASL is communicated through hand and face movements. ASL apparently is the predominant language for the many deaf and hard of hearing North Americans, yet it is even used by few of the hearing people as well.

4.2. Quebec Sign Language

Quebec Sign Language, also known as Langue des signes québécoise in French, is a sign language used in Canada. Despite its name, the LSQ sign can be seen in places throughout Ontario, New Brunswick, and other parts of Canada. Although ASL is used in Anglophone sections of Quebec, it is unusual for a deaf youngster to learn both ASL and LSQ, especially in Montreal, where the two groups are more closely linked.

During broadcast House of Commons sessions, an LSQ interpretation of what is stated during Question Period can normally be seen in the upper-right corner of the screen.

4.3. Maritime Sign Language

Maritime Sign Language (MSL) is a sign language spoken in Canada’s Atlantic provinces that is descended from British Sign Language. [2] It arose from the migration of deaf people from the Northeastern United States and the United Kingdom to Canada in the 1700s and 1800s. American Sign Language (ASL) is supplanting MSL, resulting in fewer MSL speakers and a lack of services (education, interpretation, etc.) for MSL speakers.

Now it might be clear what language Canadians speak, Canada is a home for people across the world, and even if you are new, you might find someone or another who belongs to your place or community. Canada is not just famous for amazing destinations but for exploring its acceptance of various cultures and traditions.


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