The Demolinguistics of Quebec reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Demolinguistics of Quebec

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Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Demolinguistic descriptors
3 Demolinguistic situation
4 Legislations
5 Aboriginals


Note: Language by mother tongue.

Demolinguistic descriptors

The complex nature of Quebec's linguistic situation, with its often bilingual and trilingual population, has required the use of multiple methods of determining who speaks what language.

Mother tongue: The language spoken by the mother or the person responsible for taking care of the child is the most basic measure of a population's language. However, with the high number of mixed francophone-anglophone marriages and the reality of multilingualism in Montreal, this description does not allow to determine the real linguistic portrait of Quebec. It is however still essential, for example in order to calculate the assimilation rate.

Home language: This would be the language most often spoken at home. This descriptor has the advantage of pointing out the current usage of languages. It however fails to describe the language that is most spoken at work, which may be a different language.

Knowledge of Official Languages: This measure describes which of the two official languages of Canada a person can speak informally. This relies on the person's own evaluation of his/her linguistic competence and can prove misleading.

First Official Language Spoken: This is a composite measure of mother tongue, home language and knowledge of official language.

Demolinguistic situation

Among the ten provinces of Canada and the 50 States of the United States, Quebec is the only state whose majority is Francophone. Quebec Francophones account for 19.5% of the Canadian population and 90% of all of Canada's French-speaking population. Quebec is the only province whose Francophone population is currently not declining.

The 8% of the Quebec population whose mother tongue is English live mostly in the Greater Montreal Area where they have a well established network of educational, social, economic, and cultural institutions.

The remaining 10%, named allophone in Quebec, comprises some 30 different nationalities. With the exception of the Amerindians and the Inuits, the majority are of recent immigration. There are 6.3% of Italians, 2.9% of Hispanophones, 2.5% Arabs, 1.7% Chinese, 1.5% Greeks, 1.4% French Creoles, 1.1% Portugese, 0.9% Vietnamese, 0.8% Polish etc.


With over 80 per cent of the population speaking French, it might not be obvious to understand why language is such a big issue in Quebec. A closer look at the situation of Montreal, the metropolis of Quebec and second largest one in Canada (3.5 million) allows us to see why.

There are today two distinct territories in the GMA: the metropolitain region itself and Montreal island, which is also Montreal city since the municipal merger of 2002.

The 9% of Quebec Allophones are at 88% concentrated in the Greater Montreal Area. (Anglophones are also concentrated in a similar proportion.)

Francophones account for 67% of the total population of the Greater Montreal Area, Anglophones 12.9% and Allophones 17.6%. On the island of Montreal, the Francophone majority drops to 52.8%, a net decline since the 1970s. The Anglophones account for 18.2% of the population and the Allophones 29.0%.


In 1996, 34% of native Francophones claimed to also know English, compared to 26% in 1971 and 63% percent of native Anglophones claimed to also know French, compared to 37% in 1971.

Among Allophones, 23% know French as well, 48% French and English, and 19% English. On the whole, there is a progression towards a better knowledge of French since 1971.

Source: Secrétariat à la politique linguistique, (in French)



Inter-provincial migrations




Quebec's aboriginals are comprised of an heterogenous group of about 71,000 individuals, which account for 9% of the total aboriginal population of Canada. Approximately 60% of those are officially recognized as "Indians" under the Indian Act of the federal government. The following table shows the demolinguistic situations of Quebec's aboriginals:

People Number Linguistic family Region of Quebec Language of use Second language
Abenakis 1,900 Algonquian Mauricie French Abenaki
Algonquins 8,600 Algonquian North East Algonquin French or English
Atikameks 4,900 Algonquian North Atikamek French
Crees 13,000 Algonquian North Cree English
Malecites 570 Algonquian St. Lawrence South shore French English
Micmacs 4,300 Algonquian Gaspésie Micmac French or English
Innus 13,800 Algonquian North Coast Innu French
Naskapis 570 Algonquian North East Naskapis English
Hurons 2,800 Iroquoian nearby Quebec City French English
Mohawks 13,000 Iroquoian nearby Montreal English Mohawk
Inuits 8,000 Eskimo-Aleut Arctic Inuktitut English

See also:

External links: