Speaking in tongues: census 2011 reveals Canada’s language diversity

The Canadian Press
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A table from Statistics Canada shows a breakdown in Newfoundland and Labrador population numbers for English, French and non-official languages.

OTTAWA — Selected highlights from Wednesday’s Statistics Canada release of 2011 census data, focused on language:

— One in five Canadians — some 6.6 million people — reported speaking a language other than English or French at home; 191 distinct languages were among those identified as either a mother tongue or a home language.

— Nearly 10 million people said they could conduct a conversation in French, up from 9.6 million five years earlier; however, as a proportion of the population, those able to speak French slipped to 30.1 per cent, down from 30.7 per cent in 2006.

— Nearly seven million Canadians said they speak French most often at home, a modest increase over 2006, but comprising just 21 per cent of the population — down from 21.4 per cent five years ago.

— In Quebec, 72.8 per cent of people said they speak only French at home, down from 75.1 per cent in 2006. In the rest of Canada, the comparable English-only segment dropped to 74.1 per cent from 77.1 per cent.

— Nearly 279,000 people reported speaking Philippine-based Tagalog most often at home, compared with 170,000 in 2006, an increase of 64 per cent — the largest increase of all the reported languages.

— The number of people who spoke Mandarin at home grew by 51 per cent between 2006 and 2011. Arabic grew by 47 per cent; Hindi by 44 per cent; the Creole languages by 42 per cent.

— Eighty per cent of those who reported speaking a language other than English, French or an aboriginal language lived in one of Canada’s six largest urban centres: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa-Gatineau.

— In Toronto, Canada’s most populous city, 1.8 million people — about 32.2 per cent of the population — reported speaking an immigrant language at home, about 2.5 times as many as in Vancouver.

— 5.8 million people, about 17.5 per cent of the population, reported speaking at least two languages at home, up from 14.2 per cent in 2006 — an increase of about 1.3 million.

— Bilingualism — those who reported being able to conduct a conversation in both French and English — edged up modestly: 5.8 million people in 2011, an increase of 350,000. Statistics Canada attributed the growth primarily to an increase in the number of bilingual Quebecers.

More language highlights and tables from Statistics Canada can be viewed HERE.


Organizations: Statistics Canada

Geographic location: Canada, OTTAWA, Toronto Vancouver Quebec Montreal Calgary Edmonton

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