Canadian Language Policies in Comparative Perspective

Canadian Language Policies in Comparative Perspective

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 536
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Canadian Language Policies in Comparative Perspective
    Book Description:

    Capturing the dynamism of Canadian language policies, the essays in this volume analyze and compare the effects, histories, and features of language policies as they have been enacted and implemented by Canadian provincial and federal governments. The contributors' comparisons reveal significant domestic and international implications for language policy. An important study of a social and political issue that has immediate local, national, and international consequences, Canadian Language Policies in Comparative Perspective assembles knowledgeable authorities on language policy to provide a comprehensive synthesis of its consequences.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9080-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures, Maps, and Tables
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. xiii-xv)
  6. Map
    (pp. xvi-2)
  7. INTRODUCTION: Comparing Perspectives on Canadian Language Policies
    (pp. 3-14)

    Comparison of language policies, whether domestic or international, highlights the similarities and differences of each. On this basis, a comparative perspective can identify best and worst practices, as well as those in between, across numerous cases. Systematic contrasts essentially raise the bar for evaluation by examining a gamut of practices. Self-evaluation of a case on its own and in isolation can be useful, but evaluation is more reliable when a practice is contrasted with other cases.

    A textbook on comparative politics provides a clear, powerful justification for the application of a comparative approach across disciplines and countries. As Martin Slann...

    • Introduction to Part One
      (pp. 17-17)

      It is impossible to understand Canadian language policy in ignorance of the past that created it, for it is a continuation of centuries of conflict, competition, and compromise between two of the great world languages and the powers that propagated them within the ever-changing contexts of their domains; this is the perspective of chapter 1. These contexts comprise all the constituents of society, since they have to do with its most essential component – intercommunication; that is, language – without which society cannot exist. When public policy is applied to language, it touches both the essence of social behaviour and the most...

    • 1 The History and Origins of Language Policies in Canada
      (pp. 18-66)

      The basic determinants of Canadian language policies are intertwined with the rise of French and English as world languages and especially with almost a millennium of intermittent conflicts and accommodations between France and England.¹ To understand these policies, and possibly to evaluate them, it is necessary to chronicle changes in the relative policy potential of these two languages in relation to those turning points in history that have most affected them. One can then study policy patterns of success and failure. One can, for example, analyze the results of a stable policy of language promotion prevailing through victory and defeat,...

    • 2 Comparing Language Policies
      (pp. 67-119)

      Before adopting a methodology that can have such far-reaching consequences for language policy comparison, one must face some basic language-related questions.

      Who owns the language? Although a language as an operating code can belong to those who create it, a human – language that anonymous and monumental work of uncounted generations – can only belong to those who use it. It does not belong to the state.

      Who makes the policy? The state has no monopoly on language policy.¹ Any group of people whose existence depends on the use of language may control the forms of their language, its functions, and the...

    • 3 Evaluating Language Policies
      (pp. 120-158)

      The foregoing chapter addressed the question of how and why one language policy can be different from another; the present chapter discusses if and when one policy can be better than another. Although comparison is not necessarily evaluative, evaluation is inherently so. Impartial evaluation is dependent upon an understanding of the nature, origins, and limits of a language policy, coupled with an adherence to the relative prerequisites of objectivity.

      At the outset, any evaluation of policies poses three major problems: rejection of the ideologies and premises on which the policy is based, disagreement with its underlying motives and objectives, and...

    • Introduction to Part Two
      (pp. 161-165)

      Canada’s position as a bilingual country is embedded in federal policy, which promotes French throughout Canada. This policy contrasts with Quebec’s management of French within provincial territory, including language promotion as well as language interdiction and language imposition (e.g., in Quebec any contract written in a language other than French is de jure invalid; foreign newcomers must send their children to French schools). This relatively long-standing federal-provincial contrast has generated a number of studies comparing Canada with other bilingual and multilingual countries. A commonly shared orientation of such studies is that lessons can be learned through such comparisons.

      Contrasts between...

    • 4 The Language Issue in the United States, Canada, and Quebec: Some Comparative Aspects
      (pp. 166-178)

      In this chapter I will make a number of comparisons between the United States, Canada, and Quebec, all of which are inspired by the language debate that has raged in the United States since, approximately, the presidency of Ronald Reagan. This debate, even if it included among its instigators a former linguist (Senator S.I. Hayakawa, of Canadian origin),¹ has been based on a certain number of false ideas. These include factual errors as well as misleading and distorted comparisons with Canada and especially with Quebec. This chapter calls attention to these distortions and errors without undertaking an exhaustive comparison between...

    • 5 The Danger of Denial of Languages: An Eastern European-Canadian Comparison
      (pp. 179-205)

      Speakers of influential languages may not understand the passionate concerns of the defenders of national languages used by only several million people each (as, for instance, in the three Baltic states) or several dozen million people (in Ukraine itself and in the Ukrainian diaspora). In Canada the insensitivity of English-speaking Canadians (anglophones) to old and new claims of their French-speaking fellow citizens (francophones) led to the establishment of language and immigration policies by the province of Quebec. Advocates of Quebec independence lost in the referendum of 1995, but only narrowly, by about 50.21 per cent against and 49.89 per cent...

    • 6 Canada’s Domestic French-Speaking Groups and the International Francophonie Compared
      (pp. 206-240)

      The aim of this chapter is to identify the discursive dynamics in francophone areas in Canada, including the interests and conflicts of the actors and institutions in Canada. A further purpose is to portray the Francophonie (the international French-speaking organization) in its role as global actor in political, economic, and cultural relations. How do these domestic and international trends interact and impact on one another? It is of significance for an analysis of language policy to show how processes of globalization are articulated in a multitude of tension and conflict zones and what role a cultural phenomenon such as language...

    • Introduction to Part Three
      (pp. 243-245)

      Language policy issues are the major concern here, but these are usually entangled with other issues, such as immigration, multiculturalism, and population. These factors, especially as they interact, constitute an important perspective on language policy.

      Not only do linguistic and non-linguistic issues tend to overlap with one another (Part Three), but important groups in the population (Part Four) interact constantly over both sets of issues. Issues and groups are both present in the literature; particular sources are discussed here or in Part Four, depending on their relative emphasis. The main orientation of each publication determines where it is considered. With...

    • 7 Linguistic Issues and Immigration in Quebec: Relating the “Cultural Communities” to the “Quebec Nation” and the French Language
      (pp. 246-266)

      This chapter addresses issues of language, culture, ethnic groups, and the “national community” relative to the situation as it has evolved in Quebec, with some sidelong glances at how the same issues are dealt with elsewhere in Canada, more particularly in Nova Scotia, and also in Belgium. Some reference is made to the influence of Canadian federal policies in the areas of language, immigration, and multiculturalism on the development of provincial immigration, linguistic, and cultural policies in Quebec, but the main analysis of the federal dimension is left to the following chapter, by Eve Haque. Our study focuses on the...

    • 8 Canadian Federal Policies on Bilingualism, Multiculturalism, and Immigrant Language Training: Comparisons and Interaction
      (pp. 267-296)

      This analysis has two related dimensions, a historical perspective and comparison of three issues. The historical focus concentrates on the origins of three interlocking Canadian policy issues – language, multiculturalism, and immigration, with a focus on immigrant language training – and their subsequent interaction with one another.

      The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (B and B Commission; 1963–70) arose out of the socio-historical imperative to reconsider the positioning of francophone Canadians in the national narratives of the era, as so aptly outlined earlier by William Mackey in chapter 3. The commission produced six volumes in its final report, and two of...

    • 9 Canada’s Official Languages in the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario: A Demographic Comparison
      (pp. 297-326)

      Comparisons are often made between Canada’s two most populous provinces, Quebec and Ontario (Dupré, 1993; Polèse, 1996; Guilbault, 1999), home to more than six out of ten Canadians. These provinces – the cradles of Canadian civilization – developed in parallel, making it easier to note their similarities and differences.

      In this country, where English and French are the official languages, Quebec recognizes only French, while Ontario, unlike New Brunswick, refuses to declare itself bilingual (Castonguay, 2003, 208). It is only natural to compare Quebec and Ontario linguistically, especially given the size of their populations (see Mackey in chap. 3 above). In the...

    • Introduction to Part Four
      (pp. 329-332)

      Group perspectives on language policy are especially important, since language policy generally aspires to influence the behaviour of groups while also being influenced by them. The comparative group literature relates Canadian groups to one another as well as to international counterpart groups.

      McRae (1978) compares bilingual language districts in Finland and Canada, including a list of factors explaining why this aspect of Canadian federal language policy failed. McRae (1983-98) also compares groups in various democratic multilingual societies while giving attention to language policies (see Part One above). This series of books includes separate volumes on the language policies and approaches...

    • 10 Language Policy in Ontario: From the Recognition of Linguistic Rights to the Free-Market Policy
      (pp. 333-343)

      Francophones’ position in Ontario regarding language politics evolved during the twentieth century as a result of political struggles led by French Canadians across Canada and of social, political, and economic transformations in Canadian society. In this chapter we examine the evolution of language politics in Ontario. Language politics is defined as the exercise of social control over linguistic diversity and linguistic variation. Three types of discourse were dominant in the past decades – traditionalist, modernizing, and globalizing – which correspond to three distinct periods and to the dominant ideologies of their respective eras (Heller and Budach, 1999; Heller and Labrie, 2003). Nowadays,...

    • 11 The End of the Language Crisis in Quebec: Comparative Implications
      (pp. 344-368)

      Immigration has been a major social and economic phenomenon in recent Canadian history, especially from the very end of the nineteenth century, when new waves of immigrants were admitted to Canada on an unprecedented scale (Knowles, 1992). From 1911 on, these new populations of neither French nor British origin accounted for more than half of inhabitants of the provinces located in the middle of the continent – Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. In Canada’s big cities, particularly Montreal and Toronto, the arrival of tens of thousands of immigrants recruited from southern and eastern Europe also had far-reaching consequences for the structure of...

  12. Synthesis and Conclusion
    (pp. 369-384)

    While this book has presented the case for application of the comparative approach to Canadian language policies, the conclusions in this chapter are constrained by the limitations of the approach. Optimally, the approach would indicate decisively the position of a language policy at a given time and on this basis would be able to formulate precise recommendations about how to achieve policy objectives more completely. This aspiration, while laudable, has not been achieved here. For example, chapters 9 (Paillé) and II (Anctil) are models of a comparative approach in involving reliance on history, a careful methodology, and sustained comparisons over...

  13. References
    (pp. 385-420)
  14. Index
    (pp. 421-429)