Languages in Canada

According to the 2011 census in Canada, more than 200 languages are currently spoken in Canada. As well as English and French, increasing numbers of people speak Chinese, Punjabi, Arabic, Persian, Spanish and Tagalog, with the numbers of Tagalog speakers growing most in recent years.

Some 20% of the population, 6.6 million people, speak a language other than English or French at home. The majority speak an immigrant language, while 213,000 speak an aboriginal language, and 25,000 use sign language. In comparison, 58% of the population (19.2 million) speak only English at home, while 18.2% (6 million) only speak French. The proportion of people in Quebec who only speak French has decline somewhat to 72.8%. In Quebec the number of people bilingual in French and English has increased slightly, while elsewhere it has decreased slightly.

Most of the immigrant languages are spoken in the major cities, so if you’re learning or planning to learn Punjabi, you’ll find plenty of people to practise with in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. In Montreal and Ottawa there are plenty of Arabic and Spanish speakers; there are concentrations of Tagalog speakers in Calgary and Edmonton, and quite a few Italian speakers in Montreal, and there are lots of people who speak Chinese languages in all these cities, except Montreal.

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This entry was posted in Language.

5 Responses to Languages in Canada

  1. Joe Mock says:

    Nothing from the Gaels of Nova Scotia?

  2. andre says:

    Aboriginal languages?

  3. Simon says:

    Joe – Gaelic isn’t mentioned in the article.

    Andre – by Aboriginal languages I think they mean indigenous languages like Cree and Inuktitut.

  4. David Eger says:

    If the omniscient Wikipedia is anything to go on, the number of native Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia is less than 1000 – as a percentage of 35 million, that’s 0.003%. So, that’s probably why it isn’t mentioned. I would have guessed a much higher percentage than that but, apparently, popular perceptions of the size of Canada’s Gaelic speaking population are false…. then again, so is a lot of information on Wikipedia.

  5. d.m.falk says:

    While English and French are the recognised national languages of Canada, the varuiys provinces and territories are allowed to officially recognise other languages, if need be. This stems from the necessity of the creation of the territory of Nunavut in 1999, where the dominant language, either in monolingual or bilingual households, is Inuktitut. If I recall correctly, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia and Manitoba all officially recognise certain indigenous languages, like Cree, Ojibwe, Dene, Slavey and others, providing top-level governmental support for what’s known in Canada as First Nations, the many aboriginal tribes scattered across Canada, encouraging an attempt to put these people on an equal footing with other Canadians under provincial and territorial laws and representation. I’m not sure about the other provinces, though.

    d.m.f.