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What Language Do Canadians Speak?

Canadian flag waving in front of the Parliament Building on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
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From its iconic sites to its multicultural history, Canada has a lot to offer. However, one of Canada’s most distinguishing qualities is its linguistic diversity across its ten provinces. But what language do Canadians Speak?

In Canada, many Indigenous languages are spoken. Approximately 0.6% of Canadians speak an Indigenous language as their first language. According to the most recent census, the number of Indigenous Canadians learning their original language is increasing, implying that younger Indigenous people are learning it as a second language.

What language do canadians speak
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Languages in Canada

So, what language do Canadians Speak? In Canada, 196 languages are claimed to be spoken. This includes the two official national languages, French and English, as well as 128 “immigrant” or imported languages such as German and Italian, as well as approximately 66 Indigenous languages.

English and French are Canada’s official languages. In terms of regulations, constitutional rights, and rules, Canada has an “official bilingualism” policy, which implies that all government activity must be handled in both languages, and access to goods and services must be offered in both languages.

The results for the survey ‘what language do Canadians Speak’, shows that the most widely spoken language in the country is English, but French isn’t far behind. The rate of English French bilingualism in Canada has likewise hit an all-time high, with about 18% of Canadians fluent in either language. Approximately 86% of Canadians speak English, whereas 30% speak French.

Sole Home Language

Legally, to become a Canadian citizen, one must be proficient in either French or English, although there are exceptions for the very young and very old, and in fact, it is not uncommon for immigrant Canadians in big cities to have limited competence in anything other than their birth language. This, in turn, illustrates one of the major quandaries of Canadian multiculturalism.

Approximately 15% of Canadians speak a language other than English or French at home, and 23% have a mother tongue that is not an official language. The most frequently spoken languages at home other than French or English are Mandarin (640,000 Canadians), Cantonese (595,000), Punjabi (568,000), Spanish (554,000), Tagalog (525,000), Arabic (514,000) and Italian (51,000).

Tagalog, which grew 35% between 2011 and 2018, is the fastest growing of these non-official languages, followed by Arabic. Non-official language speakers make up two-thirds of the population in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Around 18% of people in Vancouver speak only Mandarin, Punjabi, or Cantonese. The four most common immigrant home languages in Vancouver account for 58% of the total population speaking an immigrant language at home.

As one of the most cosmopolitan countries in the world, many of us speak more than one language. Being multilingual has numerous advantages, including enhanced decision-making, improved memory, and protection against illnesses such as dementia.

The question of what language do Canadians Speak have been raised for quite many times. Many languages are spoken in Canada. In addition to English and French, various non-official languages and Indigenous languages are spoken.

These are the prominent languages spoken in Canada —

1. English

As you may expect, English is the most commonly spoken language in Canada. In actuality, 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. To be honest, 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 is still typical to hear Canadians — even the most educated — dispute about the proper “Canadian way” to spell or pronounce this or that term. Many Canadian editors and teachers just teach whatever rules they recall learning as children.

Because Canada is so inextricably linked to American culture, the majority of interest in Canadian English revolves around the differences between American and Canadian English standards. Most notably, Canadian English employs “ou” instead of “o” in words with long “uhr” sounds, such as color and favorite, and “re” to end words with short “uhr” sounds, such as center and theater.

Only a few English words, such as “luf-tenant” for lieutenant and “shed-uale” for schedule, have a “official” Canadian pronunciation that differs from typical American practice, but these norms are not commonly followed in practice.

2. French

The second-most commonly spoken language in the survey of ‘what language do Canadians Speak’ by Canadian population shows that it is French, the country’s other official language. But it is not just Quebec; there are numerous locations outside of the province with significant 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), as well as le joual, a collection of unique and occasionally filthy or nonsensical slang phrases adopted by the Quebecois working-class.

For political reasons, French-Canadians responded for what language do Canadians speak that they are 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, as well as 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 during conversation, whereas Parisians use straight “zees.”

Touristes en balade dans « le quartier Petit Champlain ». Cette petite zone touristique n'est composée que d'une centaine de mètres de rues piétonnières, principalement Cul-de-Sac et Sous-le-Fort mais surtout la rue du Petit-Champlain. Au début des années 1700, cette dernière est nommée rue des Meulles, en l'honneur de l'intendant Jacques de Meulles, mais à partir du 19e siècle les résidants anglophones du secteur la surnomme « Little Champlain Street », pour la différencier de la vraie (et nouvelle) rue Champlain (actuel boulevard Champlain) qui passait tout proche, d'où l'appellation Petit Champlain.
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Allophones are Canadians who do not speak English or French as their first language, and the bulk of these persons are either immigrants or their families. According to the most recent Canadian census, around three million Canadians use a non-official mother language “most regularly at home,” with Chinese, Punjabi, and Spanish being the most prominent Allophone languages.

One official language is spoken at home by nearly 7 in 10 Canadians whose native tongue is neither English nor French shows the survey for what language do Canadians Speak.

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.

In fact, many Canadians whose mother tongue is a language other than English or French speak one of the country’s two official languages at home on a regular or predominant basis.

What language do Canadians speak survey resulted that nearly 7 in 10 Canadians (68.8%) with a non-official mother tongue spoke an official language at home 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.

In Quebec, nearly one-half of non-official mother tongue speakers (47.9%) spoke French at home at least on a regular basis in 2021, while 37.5% spoke English. From 2016 to 2021, the proportion of Quebec residents who spoke mostly French at home increased slightly (from 18.8% to 20.1%), while the proportion who spoke predominantly English at home stayed relatively consistent (from 15.3% to 15.4%).

Canada has a diverse linguistic landscape. The languages recognized and spoken here are inextricably related to Canadians’ identity and culture, as well as 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 dozens 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.

3. Mandarin

While one-fifth of Canadians speak a language other than English or French as their mother tongue, only 6.2% of Canadians speak a language other than English or French 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.

4. Punjabi

However, Punjabi has established itself as one of the most widely spoken languages in the country. Punjabi is the fourth most widely spoken language in Canada, behind English and French. Mandarin is the country’s third most widely spoken language.

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

Punjabi has risen 49% in the last five years to become Canada’s fourth most spoken language. According to Statistics Canada’s 2021 census statistics, Mandarin and Punjabi are the second and third most commonly spoken languages in the country, after English and French.

Other Indian languages are also flourishing in Canada. According to sources, the number of 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.

5. Cantonese

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

The number of Mandarin speakers in British Columbia, where Vancouver is located, has 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 neighbors and friends, or you can use it to order meals in restaurants.

Diversity in the Languages of Canada

In the 2011 Census, when surveyed for what language do Canadians speak, eighty percent of persons who reported using a language other than English, French, or an Aboriginal language most often at home resided in one of Canada’s six largest major census metropolitan areas (CMAs). Toronto:

About 1.8 million people in Toronto delineated speaking an immigrant language most often at home. That equates to approximately 32.2 percent of the city’s population and roughly 2.5 times the number of Vancouver residents who reported speaking an immigrant language most frequently at home. Cantonese, Punjabi, Urdu, and Tamil were the most commonly spoken languages.

  • In Montreal, over 626,000 people reported speaking an immigrant language at home most of the time. Nearly a third (17%) spoke Arabic and Spanish (15 percent).
  • In Vancouver, 712,000 people reported speaking an immigrant language at home most of the time. Punjabi had the highest percentage (18%), followed by Cantonese, Mandarin, and Tagalog. Sixty-four percent of the overall population speaks one of these five languages most frequently at home.
  • 228,000 persons in Calgary reported speaking an immigrant language at home most of the time. The most often reported languages were Punjabi (27,000 people), Tagalog (almost 24,000), and non-specific Chinese dialects (21,000).
  • In Edmonton, 166,000 people reported speaking an immigrant language at home most of the time, with Punjabi, Tagalog, Spanish, and Cantonese accounting for roughly 47 percent of these persons, a figure comparable to Calgary.
  • In Ottawa and Gatineau approximately 87 percent of the people in this census metropolitan area who reported using an immigrant language most often at home lived in Ottawa, and the most common immigrant home languages were Arabic, Chinese (non-specified dialect), Spanish, and Mandarin. Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and unspecified Chinese dialects were the most common home languages in Gatineau.
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Moreover 7 million Canadians are of foreign origin.

How many languages spoken in Canada? The most commonly spoken language:

  • English
  • French
  • Chinese dialects
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • German
  • Tagalog
  • Arabic
  • Portuguese
  • Polish
  • Urdu

Indigenous languages and aboriginal languages are spoken by 1.4 million Canadians.

Highlights of Linguistic Diversity

English is the first official language of slightly more than three-quarters of Canadians. This percentage climbed from 74.8% in 2016 to 75.5% in 2021. Although French language is the first official language spoken by an increasing number of Canadians, the proportion has fallen from 22.2% in 2016 to 21.4% in 2021.

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 fourth 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, the number of Canadians who spoke primarily French at home increased in Quebec, British Columbia, and Yukon but fell in the other provinces and territories. Except for Yukon, the proportion of Canadians who spoke primarily French at home declined in all provinces and territories.

For the first time in the research of what language do Canadians speak, the census showed the number of Quebecers whose first official language is English surpassed one million, and their fraction of the population increased from 12.0% in 2016 to 13.0% in 2021. Furthermore, 7 out of 10 English speakers lived on Montréal Island or in Montérégie.

The proportion of bilingual English French Canadians (18%) has been nearly constant since 2016. Between 2016 and 2021, the growth in bilingualism in Quebec (from 44.5% to 46.4%) more than offset the reduction observed outside Quebec (from 9.8% to 9.5%).

In Canada, four out of ten persons can hold a conversation in more than one language. This percentage increased from 39.0% in 2016 to 41.2% in 2021. Furthermore, one in every eleven people speaks three or more languages.

In 2021, when asked what language do Canadians speak to individuals, one in every four Canadians spoke a language other than English or French at home, and one in every eight spoke a language other than English or French at home, the greatest rates on record.

From 2016 to 2021, the number of 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 the research for what language do Canadians Speak shows, the number of Canadians who spoke mostly specific European languages at home, such as Italian, Polish, and Greek, decreased.

Aside from English and French, Mandarin and Punjabi were the most widely spoken languages in the country. In 2021, more over 500,000 Canadians spoke primarily Mandarin at home, and another 500,000 spoke Punjabi.

Seven in ten Canadians whose native tongue is neither English nor French spoke an official language at home on a regular basis. Children are more likely to grow up speaking an immigrant language at home, and they learn English primarily when they begin school.

In 2021, 189,000 persons claimed having at least one Indigenous mother tongue, and 183,000 reported regularly speaking an Indigenous language at home. The main Indigenous languages spoken in Canada are Cree and Inuktitut, shows the survey of what language do Canadians Speak.

Individuals with an Indigenous mother tongue spoke that language at home at least on a frequent basis, and half spoke it exclusively. What language do Canadians Speak? Not just English, French, Punjabi, Mandarina or any other language they even have sign languages.

Sign Languages in Canada

In addition to the spoken word, certain Indigenous societies have historically employed sign languages to communicate. Despite the fact that Indigenous sign languages are only known by a small number of individuals.

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. It is the predominant language of many deaf and hard of hearing North Americans, and it is also used by some hearing people.

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.

3. Maritime Sign Language

Answering the question what language do Canadians speak, 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.

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Now that you know the answer to what language do Canadians speak, Canada is a home for people across the world, even if you are new, you might find someone or other 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.

Written by Vyshnavi

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