Quebec Seeks to Ease Divisiveness

Alkistis Fleischer fleischa at
Thu Apr 17 19:14:51 UTC 2003

Thank you for providing the list with the facts. Joining the discussion from
Montreal (where I am researching language policy and language ideologies in
Quebec for my dissertation), I fully agree with what Marc Levine has
written. The status of French is certainly strong in Quebec. Not only is
there no sign of shift among Francophones, but Anglophones increasingly use
English in public, and recent immigrants and Allophones (those who have
neither English nor French as their mother tongue) increasingly shift to
French rather than English when they perform a shift. While the status of
French has considerably increased since the 1970s, French-English
bilingualism continues to be important. Code-switching (involving French,
English, and other languages) is a common practice in Montreal, the city
with the highest concentration of bilinguals and trilinguals in North
America, but that does not make the city "bilingual," as has been suggested
by some previous postings. Not only does the province of Quebec have French
as its (only) official language since 1974, but the new megacity of Montreal
was officially declared French ("une ville de langue française") in the
Charter of the City of Montreal (January 2002). Bill 101 (the Charter of the
French Language), passed by the Parti Québécois government in 1977, wanted
to make French "the language of Government and the Law, as well as the
normal and everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce
and business," and the law has been successful in making French the main
language of public use and the "common" language of Quebec society.

The study by the Conseil de la langue française that Marc Levine mentioned
(Béland 1999) examined the status of French as the language of public use in
Quebec in 1997. The index of languages of public use was taken to be a
combination of language use in different situations of public communication.
In the total of Quebec, 82% of the population report speaking French in
public; 8% speaks English, and 8% speaks French and English. (Only 1% uses
another language.) However, bilingualism and use of English in public are
more pronounced in the Montreal metropolitan region, particularly on the
Island of Montreal. In the Montreal metropolitan region, 70% of respondents
report using French; 14% use French and English; and 15% use English; and 1%
another language. On the Island of Montreal, 61% use French; 17% use French
and English; 21% use English; and 2% another language.

Alkistis Fleischer

Ph.D. candidate in Linguistics (Sociolinguistics), Georgetown University

Stagiaire doctorale, Centre d'études ethniques des universités montréalaises
(CEETUM), Groupe de recherche ethnicité et société (GRES)

----- Original Message -----
From: <veblen at>
To: <lgpolicy-list at>; "Christina Paulston"
<paulston+ at>
Cc: <lgpolicy-list at>
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 10:10 AM
Subject: Re: Quebec Seeks to Ease Divisiveness

Folks -- although omnipresent threats remain, the status of French in Quebec
as strong as it has ever been. There is absolutely no evidence of
language shift among Francophones. The overwhelming majority of Francophones
(mother tongue) use French as their language of home and work. Increasing
numbers of anglophones are becoming bilingual. Immigrant children are
to attend French-language schools; consequently, these children of Bill 101
overwhelmingly adopt French as their langue parlée au foyer when they shift
from their mother tongue. Moreover, recent surveys show that 87& of the
population uses French as a "public language" --that is, the language of
commerce, daily activities, interaction with government. The one area of
substantial preoccupation -- the declining number of Francophones on the
of Montreal (chiefly a product of francophone suburbanization, low
and allophone immigration in the 1990s)-- seems to have abated, according to
recent data from the 2001 census. Christina Paulston is right -- a language
shift away from French in Quebec maybe in 500 years,  but not any time soon.

For those interested, all these trends are documented in a couple of
my own book, La reconquête de Montréal (Montréal: VLB Editeur, 1997), and
recent special edition of La Revue de l'aménagement linguistique, published
the Office de la langue française, which examines changes in Quebec's
linguistic landscape since the 1970s (and includes articles by me, Marie
McAndrew, Richard Bourhis, Pierre Bouchard, and Joshua Fishman among

Marc Levine
Center for Canadian-American Policy Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Quoting Christina Paulston <paulston+ at>:

> Maybe in 500 years; but it has got territory and laws to support it as
> as la gloire de la France and stubborn speakers. Christina
> ----------
> >From: Survey Coordinator Brazil <survey_coord_brazil at>
> >To: lgpolicy-list at
> >Subject: Re: Quebec Seeks to Ease Divisiveness
> >Date: Tue, Apr 15, 2003, 2:09 PM
> >
> > Interesting - I've just surveyed a creole in northern Brazil.  We had a
> > Martiniquan and an St. Lucian along.  I think the creoles illustrate
> > what Fishman talks about with the idea of domains.  Likely the reason
> > creoles survived so long was because is was pretty clear which language
> was
> > used by whom, where.  I think this Quebec article is hailing
> > without diglossia, which could be a harbinger of language shift.
> >
> > Stan Anonby
> >

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