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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Canada's linguistic landscape shifting

The most commonly spoken immigrant language in Canada in 2011 was Punjabi, followed by Chinese and Cantonese. Other widely-used immigrant languages included Spanish, Tagalog and Mandarin.

Of the 200 languages reported in the census, 60 were aboriginal languages. Among the 213,400 people who reported that they speak an aboriginal language at home, about 38,000 reported a different language as their mother tongue.

Cree languages, Inuktitut and Ojibway were the most frequent aboriginal languages Canadians reported as a mother tongue in 2011, according to the census.
Most immigrant-language speakers live in Canada's largest cities – a long-term trend that corresponds with immigration patterns – with about 80 per cent of them concentrated in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa-Gatineau.

The dominance of different immigrant languages varies considerably by city, with Arabic and Spanish accounting for close to one-third of immigrant languages spoken at home in Montreal and Ottawa-Gatineau, Punjabi taking the top spot in Vancouver, and Tagalog and Punjabi rating highest in Edmonton.

Immigration is turning Canada into a country of many languages, with the historic dominance of French and English shrinking.

Canada remains a nation of French and English speakers, but people are speaking a greater variety of languages at home, as long-term trends in immigration shape the country's linguistic landscape.