Tuesday, December 4, 2007

French is the mother tongue of about 6.7 million Canadians (23% of the Canadian population) in Quebec at the provincial level and is co-official with English in New Brunswick. The provincial governments of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Manitoba are required to provide services in French where justified by the number of francophones (French-speakers). However, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires all provinces to provide primary and secondary education to their official-language minorities at public expense.

French dialects in Canada
Within Canadian French, Quebec French is so dominant that they are often considered one and the same. The liberal use of the label "Canadian French" is in some ways similar to the English and French uses of "Flemish" / "le flamand". These terms are almost always over-generalized to signify Dutch - the standard, common, and official language spoken by the Flemish Community of Belgium. For a detailed explanation, see the introductions for the articles on Flemish and on Dutch.
Speakers of Acadian French tend to view the more formal varieties of Quebec French as a linguistic standard for three main reasons:

While being the only province whose majority is francophone, Quebec is also home to the majority of francophones in Canada.
The Quebec government has taken legislative action to improve the social and legal status of the French language through massive terminological work, the Charter of the French Language, and the Office québécois de la langue française.
On a pan-Canadian level, Quebec French overwhelmingly dominates francophone culture and the French-language media. Labelling and dominance of Quebec French

The language across Canada
Quebec is the only province whose sole official language is French. Today, 81.4 percent of Quebecers are francophone. However, many of the services the provincial government provides are available in English for the sizeable anglophone population of the province (notably in Montreal). Quebec French is noticeably different in pronunciation and vocabulary from the French of France, sometimes called Metropolitan French, but they are easily mutually intelligible in their formal varieties, and after moderate exposure, in most of their informal ones as well. The differences are due primarily to changes that have occurred in Quebec French and Parisian French since the 18th century, when Britain gained possession of Canada. Different regions of Quebec have their own varieties: Gaspé Peninsula, North Coast, Quebec City, Lac St-Jean, Outaouais, and Abitibi have characteristic differences in pronunciation as well as vocabulary. For example, depending on one's region, the ordinary word for "kettle" can be bouilloire, bombe, or canard.

Commonly known as Acadian French, the variety of French spoken in Atlantic Canada possesses features different from those of Quebec French. It is historically related to Cajun French.
French is one of the official languages, with English, of the province of New Brunswick. Apart from Quebec, this is the only other Canadian province that recognizes French as an official language. Approximately one third of New Brunswickers are francophone , by far the largest Acadian population in Canada. It is concentrated along the eastern coast of the province. The only major Acadian population centre is Moncton, home to the main campus of the Université de Moncton. Francophones are, however, in the minority in Moncton.
In addition to New Brunswick, Acadian French has speakers in portions of mainland Quebec and in the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. In these provinces, the percentage of francophones is much smaller than in New Brunswick. In some communities, French is an endangered language.
Although not traditionally part of Acadia, the Magdalen Islands, an archipelago of 9 small islands belonging to Quebec, also speak Acadian French.
Newfoundland is also home to its own distinct dialect of French, Newfoundland French.

French in Canada Atlantic Canada
Although French is the native language of just over half a million Canadians in Ontario, francophone Ontarians represent only 4.4 percent of the province's population and are concentrated near the border with Quebec (Eastern Ontario), in Sudbury, and much of Northeastern Ontario. They are also present in smaller numbers throughout the province. However, a third of Franco-Ontarians no longer speak the language at home.
The province has no official language defined in law, although it is a largely English-speaking province. Ontario law requires that the provincial Legislative Assembly operate in both English and French (individuals can speak in the Assembly in the official language of their choice), and requires that all provincial statutes and bills be made available in English and French. Furthermore, under the French Language Services Act, individuals are entitled to communicate with the head or central office of any provincial government department or agency in French, as well as to receive all government services in French in 25 designated areas in the province, selected according to minority population criteria. The provincial government of Ontario's website is bilingual.

Manitoba also has a significant Franco-Manitoban community, centred especially in the St. Boniface area of Winnipeg, but also in many surrounding villages. The provincial government of Manitoba boasts the only bilingual website of the Prairies; the Canadian constitution makes French an official language in Manitoba for the Legislature and Courts. Saskatchewan also has a Fransaskois community, as does Alberta with its Franco-Albertans. British-Columbia, on the other hand, hosts only a small francophone population, the Franco-Columbians.
Although not a dialect of French, Michif, a unique mixed language derived from Cree and French, is spoken by a small number of Métis living mostly in the province of Manitoba.

Western Canada
French is an official language in each of the three northern territories: the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Francophones in the Yukon are called Franco-Yukon(n)ais, those from the Northwest Territories, Franco-Ténois (from the French acronym for the Northwest Territories, T.N.-O.), and those in Nunavut, Franco-Nunavois.

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