Area of Distribution and Number of Speakers
French is mother tongue for more than 6,000,000 in Canada (24 percent of the total population according to 1986 census). The French-speaking population is concentrated mainly in the province of Quebec (up to 80% of the inhabitants are Franco-Canadians). Outside it the greatest French-speaking group (more than 400,000 people) live in the province of Ontario, especially in the area of the national capital Ottawa. Franco-Canadians make up one third of the population of New Brunswick.
Origin and History
Outside France, apart from the creoles, the French of Canada, originally probably of northwestern dialect type, has developed the most individual features. Although in the 18th century Canadian French was regarded as exceptionally "pure" by metropolitan commentators, it began to diverge from Parisian French after 1760 as English influence grew stronger.
Canadian French is less clearly articulated, with less lip movement and with a more monotonous intonation than standard French. Some change in consonantal sounds occurs:
Although intellectuals turn toward France for cultural inspiration (some university-educated French Canadians may not even know English), the pronunciation and usage of standard French is sometimes derided by French Canadians; this may be because their English compatriots are taught Parisian at school. The French-speaking population of Canada is growing relatively fast, and at present four-fifths of the population of Quebec province use French as their normal language. Even today, however, French is not as socially prestigious as English; the activities of the separatist movement are evidence of the feeling of grievance that many French Canadians still have.
English and French are both official
languages of Canada.
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© Zdravko Batzarov