Immigration drives Canadian language changes

New data shows that there are around 7.3 million people living in Canada who speak a language other than English or French as their mother tongue.

While the Statistics Canada data reveals that 93.4 per cent of Canada’s population indicate that they speak either English or French (Canada’s two official languages) on a regular basis, 22 per cent stated that they speak a language other than English or French at home. A similar survey conducted in 2011, revealed that only 14.5 per cent spoke a different language at home.

Immigration is one of the main factors driving linguistic changes. Yet changing immigration patterns can be seen in the languages that are now commonly being spoken in the country.

Those reporting a ‘European’ language being spoken in the home is on the decline.vThose speaking Italian, Polish, German and Greek reported declines ranging from 10.9 per cent in Italian, to 2.3 per cent in Greek.

The main immigrant languages spoken in Canada include Mandarin and Cantonese some 1.23 million people, while Punjabi, Spanish (Latin America), Tagalog (Philipino), and Arabic each have well over half a million speakers.

In addition to immigrant languages, there are also close to 70 aboriginal languages in Canada. However, the overall numbers of aboriginal language speakers is relatively small at around 225,000. Cree is the most common aboriginal language with 84,000 speakers. Inuktitut is next at 39,000.

Article published 23rd August 2017