While Canada has long been a bastion of peace and productivity in the world scene, the internal laws that divide treatment of the French-language speakers of Quebec and the English-language speakers of the rest of the nation frequently come to a head in the nation’s politics. Quebec and the French language on the one hand retain a singular place in the country’s history. Canada is the world’s largest bilingual nation, with mandates that both languages must be taught in state-sponsored schools. While equal treatment of both language groups has long been mandated, however, unequal preference in government positions and legal aspects has created a serious rift between the provincial and federal level of the nation.
Between Two Tongues
The original laws put down in the 1980s dictated that the French language would become the primary language of the Quebec province, even though English would be an accepted secondary language and all government offices should be able to accommodate both. Yet this created an entirely new system in which education, legal services, and other government institutions mandated an automatic switch from any English language compliance to French. Primary-school children who had only ever attended classes taught in English had to immediately learn how to study math and social studies in French. Citizens hoping to gain a driver’s license now had to specifically request an English form if they did not have enough facility in the French language to fill out the questions. This created significant turmoil and the loss of millions of dollars throughout the provinces.
Words on the World Wide Web
The laws became challenged over the next decade, as pro-English politicians lobbied to remove the French language exclusivity in government productions such as road signs. By the 1990s, the fight had generally died down, but the introduction of the Internet and government functions launched a new firestorm. In 1993, the Quebec courts dictated that any businesses operating in the province would need to comply with provincial law and advertise their services online in French first and English second. Legal arguments about the federal (and thus primarily English) jurisdiction of the Canadian Internet sought to overturn the French language supremacy but failed.
Debate On The Future Of The French Language
For now, Quebec language legal fights have trended towards government sponsored education. Since the percentage of Canadians who speak French as a first language has drastically dropped over the past decade, partially due to birth rates and partially due to immigration, Quebecois politicians have attempted to create entirely new generations of French speakers. Education laws dictate that foreign students or students who have moved into Quebec must take French classes even if they have only had previous instruction in English. It is estimated that the legal action on schooling will create at least one million new French speakers. This action, however, has created its own controversy amongst Francophone nationalists who have an explicitly pro-French language position alongside an anti-immigration stance. This duality will continue to affect the speech of the two languages in Canada for many years to com
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