Allophone is a French Word

with 251 comments

Allophones in Canada


There are no allophones in Canada.

Just for fun (because I’m the type of guy who entertains himself by doing amateur statistics on a Sunday afternoon while the rest of the World is watching some hockey game), I searched « allophone » + « every Canadian province » on the Canadian Newstand search engine.

In all the Canadian newspapers electronically archived, 1551 newspapers articles contained both the words Québec and allophone. If you remove the stories that also mention Québec, only 57 stories have ever been published in a major Canadian newspaper in which the reporter used both the words Canada and allophone. The words Ontario and allophone have shared a daily’s real estate only a precious five times.

And even though 42% of immigrant workers in British-Colombia say they regularly use a non-official language at work, no writer has ever used those two words in the same story. Ever.

There are no allophones in Canada. They all live in Québec.

Strictly speaking, an allophone is someone who’s native language is not the same as the one of the dominant linguistic community in which he lives, which in Canada is understood to mean someone who’s native tongue is neither French nor English.   By that definition, Ontario, British-Columbia, Alberta and even Manitoba have way more allophones than Québec.

In the context of Québec’s charged identity politics, however, the word allophone has become shorthand for visible minority, immigrant, ethnic and « white people with italian last names trying to claim some sort of ethnic heritage to advance their careers and/or political agenda », i.e. the Parti Québécois’ Pierre Curzi, the Liberal’s Liza Hébert/Frulla-Hébert/Frulla and the CDPQ’s Micheal Sabia.

That’s not to say allophones are a demographic fiction. They exist, at least in Québec. There are 900 000 allophones in the province, and with over 21 000 new recruits every year through immigration, they could soon be twice as numerous as Québec Anglos.

That’s huge. If the arrival of the French settlers four hundred years ago was the first dramatic demographic shift on the banks of the St.Lawrence river, and the arrival of the British Loyalists the second, we are now smack in the middle of the third.

Political pollsters usually treat Anglos and Allos as a single bloc of voters.  In the Montreal Gazette « anglophones and allophones » has become a single word as their writers try to convince us they have many black friends.

In real life, though, the Allophones are a very different tribe than the Anglos and Francos.

Three quarters of Québec Anglos only listen to music in English. Allos, like Francos, say they listen to music in French or English indiscriminately. Eighty-five percent of Québec’ Anglos watch all their TV in English. Half of Allos watch French television, a third of them exclusively. A small majority of allophones choose to read French-language newspapers (a huge majority if you count the free dailies distributed in the Montreal metro). One third of Québec Allos watch French language movies and the majority of shows they see are in French.

And whereas Anglophones who choose to study in another language than English at the post-secondary level are as rare as palm trees in Rosemont, half of Allophones (60% of those who went to French high school) choose to persue a higher education in French .

And those numbers are from Le grand Montréal s’anglicise, a report compiled by the Parti Québécois for the express purpose of scaring us into voting for secession ASAP.

The fact is allophones are just as endangered as francophones.

According the latest census data, there are 2 400 000 Allos in Canada who have gone Anglo. Combined with the 400 000 Francophones converts to English and the 500 000 new native English speakers in the country, this has led to one of the fastest periods of growth for the English language in Canadian history according to University of Ottawa demographer Charles Castonguay.

Even in Montreal, the allophone’s last refuge, economics pressure the majority of allophones who assimilate into one or the other of the great linguistic confederacies choose the English-language. The number of people who reported using English as their home language increased by 5,5% between the last two census periods. Again, unprecedented in the history of Canadian census data, according to prof Castonguay.

Montreal is not getting more diverse, it’s just becoming more English.   Just like Canada, where there are no more allophones.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

May 3, 2010 at 10:07 am

251 Responses

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  1. Sure ACJ, but in this world with around 6000 languages most people are going to be minority status in terms of their language no matter what.

    Anglais aussi, après tout, et quant à Mandarin, même chose, même s’il est la langue officielle du pays plus populeux du monde.

    But French is majority status in your own particular region, but must still co-exist with NA English, that for sure is an Ottawa/Gatineau reality for you and the same for les Montréalais.

    Signs, school choices, people using different language at the dépanneur may feel very irritating and all, or lacking in ability, or effort or will or adhesion or whatever, but ABP is wrong in saying you will be assimilated into English, all 6.5 million. In Gravelbourg Saskatchewan most likely, but not in Québec as a whole. However, if francos move out of Montréal and fill it up with allos, then you have to accept that in all those neighbourhoods you will likely be hearing English and some allo tongues more often than French. Some allos will accept assimilation (sacrifice remember) into French, but probably a good half will not. So if Montréal s’anglicise, it is by a default of retaining and reproducing the core franco population there. You can’t really blame the allos.


    May 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm

  2. “However, if francos move out of Montréal and fill it up with allos, then you have to accept that in all those neighbourhoods you will likely be hearing English and some allo tongues more often than French. Some allos will accept assimilation (sacrifice remember) into French, but probably a good half will not. So if Montréal s’anglicise, it is by a default of retaining and reproducing the core franco population there. You can’t really blame the allos.”

    I think everyone involved would to blame to some degree (albeit for different reasons): allophones, anglophones and francophones.

    Montreal becoming anglicized would be sort of like a socio-linguistic variant on the tragedy of the commons: with every single individual acting in their own self-interest, leading to a result that most didn’t envision or, perhaps in most cases even, necessarily desire.


    May 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

  3. “I don’t know of any country that forbids dual citizenship for one particular country, but there are a number -such as India- that completely forbid dual citizenship.
    The reason Canada might want to do this (although I am not sure how this could be enforced really or that it’s politically realistic) is to avoid the possibility of 7 million people with dual citizenship living in Quebec, but claiming social benefits in Canada as well. I think if it ever decided to go this route, Canada would probably forbid all dual citizenship. I do hope it does not come that as I don’t want to lose my second passport…”

    I also see this issue about having 7 million potential non-residents with Canadian passports (and all of the rights of citizens) just next door as very problematic for Canada as well.

    I think a possible solution might be to grandfather all of the existing dual citizenships, and then not grant any new ones from that point onwards.

    Of course, this might be politically difficult to justify and anger some Canadian residents who might have wanted duel citizenship with another country.

    But I suppose the government of the day would have to weigh the risk from that type of uproar against the risk posed by the Quebec quandary.


    May 19, 2010 at 1:29 pm

  4. “but ABP is wrong in saying you will be assimilated into English, all 6.5 million. In Gravelbourg Saskatchewan most likely”

    You could likely be right, althouth, as goes Montreal goes Quebec some have said. I just read an article (amongst many I have read by him) on this issue by Charles Castonguay. Intersting in that Dr. Castonguay is actually an anglo. I believe he is quite objective and is very credible.

    Basically, change the way we look at things between Canada and Quebec or in order for the french to survive the Quebecois must make a change of country.

    Changes within are going to be very difficult. The one premise is to allow citizenship laws to change markedly. Changing the laws of citizenship might prove to be very difficult as Canada now has two official languages. To say that in Quebec immigrants must be fluent in french to qualify and that English Canada would bestow citizenship to only on those immigrants fluent in English is in direct contravention of the Official Languages Act of 1969 with subsequent amendments. No doubt the OLA would have to be extensively reviewed and rewritten or perhaps even repealed to allow the suggestions of Dr. Castongay.

    Chances are the ROC might agree to the citizenship issue in Quebec, but would want a concession that in the ROC the official language for citzenship be english, which would essentially undermine the concept of Canada having two official languages.

    In any event Castonguay’s articles are quite interesting. His extropolation of the demise of the language may sound a bit extreme but this fellow is in fact a mathematician and statician.


    May 19, 2010 at 2:10 pm

  5. Anonymous is ABP above. Sorry


    May 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm

  6. What a bloody slant on your self serving statistics … The only reason Allophones even exist is because the linguistic category helps your Francophone elitist leaders who send their kids to Princeton sleep better at night thinking that the Quebec franco majority isnt being threatened by the English populatiin or language. Divide and conquer.  Allophones dont exist except in the self dillusional minds of language guestaupo. All Allophones are Anglophones. And why cant you see that even discussing ….let alone changing the use of English as their home language is as racist and draconian discussion as Adolf Hitler discussed the God-given destiny of the Germanic people to rule the world. Too bad none of the papers and TV news agencies around the world dont know Quebec Language Zealots the way we know: as fascist racists , just like the Nazis of Berlin in 1936. You should try reading English history books instead of burning them.

    Scarlet Pimpernel

    June 15, 2010 at 1:38 am

  7. Why are Quebeckers like the AFG so stupid? Please separate for Chrissakes, you inbred bunch of backward trailer trashes.


    August 14, 2011 at 1:56 am

  8. so allophone is a French word, and in English isn’t really used outside of Quebec (francisisms exist in English)

    just saying.


    November 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm

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    May 19, 2014 at 4:58 pm

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