Even though French and English happen to be the two (2) official languages in Canada, yet Canada is very rich when it comes to linguistic diversity.
The 2016 Census revealed the increasing number of people residing in Canada that are using their mother tongue and other languages that are not English and French. This is generally in addition to the huge diversity of Indigenous languages in Canada.
Canada Official Languages and the Most Spoken Languages
You will see a list of the most spoken languages in Canada. They are arranged in an orderly manner.
According to the Canadian Federal government, there’re just three major classes of languages which are the (1). Charter or “official” languages — French and English — which are recognized under the Canadian 1969 federal Official Languages Act; (2).
Ancestral languages of Indigenous peoples which were basically spoken by the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis which are not legally protected at the Canadian federal level and; (3). “immigrant languages,” which are not benefiting from the official status in Canada but nonetheless are widely spoken.
Mother Tongue and First Official Language Spoken (FOLS)
Statistics Canada recently conducted a census which helped distinguishes between two (2) definitions of language speakers: the mother tongue and the First Official Language Spoken (FOLS).
The FOLS definition was gotten from three (3) federal census questions and it include: home language, knowledge of Canada’s official languages, and mother tongue. The mother tongue definition has to do with the first language learned and can still be understood by individuals.
In order to differentiate in broad terms between French and English-speaking Canadians, a census where people were based on their first official language spoken was conducted.
Meanwhile, the two (2) categories both existed in addition to Canadians’ general knowledge of either official language.
French: 7,452,075 Native Speakers (21.4% of Canada’s Overall population)
French is one of the important languages in Canada and the percentage of Canadians that speak both English and French Language is 17.9% which is the highest ever since 2016.
Notwithstanding, the French universality both as a spoken language and mother tongue in Canada is dwindling, even in the francocentric territory of Quebec, although slightly.
The Quebec government has enacted many laws just to make sure it maintains the use of French. For instance, the Quebec government once created a law that requires all storefronts and outdoor signs to use French.
Hélène David, the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications was interviewed, and he stated that “My wish is that everywhere, commercial signage unequivocally reminds us that we are indeed in Quebec”.
English: 20,193,335 Native Speakers (58.1% of Canada’s Overall Population)
If you are well-knowledgeable when it comes to the use of the English Language, then you will definitely be fine in Canada.
Aside from French, English is another official language spoken in Canada, and around 86.2 percent of people in Canada can communicate in English (While 74.5 percent speak English at home), this results in English being the dominant language in Canada due to the overwhelming majority who spoke it among Canucks.
The statement above remains true except in places like Quebec and Nunavut, where Inuit happens to be the mother tongue of eighty-three percent (83%) of the population.
Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin): 3.5% Native Speakers (1,204,865 of Canada’s Overall Population)
Having Mandarin and Cantonese strongly in place as the third and fourth most common languages, sure Chinese would be a shoo-in for the third official language.
From 2011 to 2016, the number of people in Canada who spoke the Chinese language at home sprang up by 16.8 percent.
Even before the year of Confederation in 1867, immigrants from China had already arrived in Canada. Also in the 1990s, the Chinese immigration increased once again when most of the immigrants moving into Canada were of Chinese descent.
Some of the Canadian immigrants who entered Canada came as a result of the British Columbia Gold Rush, which made the government of Canada to create an anti-immigration legislation law.
The 1885 Chinese Immigration Act required all immigrants from Chinese (except for merchants and students) to pay a $50 head tax.
At the moment, the government of Canada is trying to go low on its standard in order to let more immigrants from the Chinese region to move into Canada.
Other Immigrant Languages: 18.8% Native Speakers (6,544,255 of Canada’s Overall population)
Apart from French and English which are the Canadian official languages, there are other languages like Punjabi and Tagalog ranked Cantonese and Mandarin which are the commonest languages in Canada. It’s however, safe to say that the Asian influence is strong up north.
Tagalog in 2016 was said to be the sixth most commonly spoken language in Canada and also the fastest-growing language. From 2011 to 2016 Tagalog home speakers increased by 35 percent.
In 2016, Tagalog did not just stop at being the sixth most common language in Canada, it further became the fastest-growing language too, with the number of Tagalog home speakers jumping by 35 percent between 2011 and 2016.
This clearly means that the Philippines are the main origin country for Canadian immigrants. Meanwhile, Persian (Farsi), Urdu, Arabic, and Hindi significantly grew during that period of time.
Other common languages that exist in Canada include Arabic, Spanish, Italian, German, and Urdu. Meanwhile, the Canadian most obscure languages (like Kashmiri, Fijian, Catalan, Bilen, and Belarusan) all exist in enclaves of fewer than 1,000 speakers.
Aboriginal Languages: 0.6% Native Speakers (213,230 of Canada’s Overall Population)
As a country, Canada comprises broad stretches of sparsely populated land. It’s also in many of these far-flung regions that you see Aboriginal tongues predominate among the non-official languages (Languages that are neither English nor French).
There are lots of maps that show you the importance of Canadian pre-colonial languages, especially when you put into consideration the large number of individuals who truly speak Inuktitut went high between 2011 and 2016.
Plus, the number of individuals who spoke one of these languages at home is larger than those people with an Aboriginal mother tongue. What this means is that more people are acquiring them as their second language.
Finally, Cree is considered the most populous Aboriginal language, having 69,975 native speakers (which is 0.2 percent of the overall population). I hope you enjoyed reading this information on our blog? Follow us for more amazing information.