A new survey shows that more Canadians report a strong attachment to their primary language than to any other identifier, including the country itself.
The survey, conducted by Léger for the Association for Canadian Studies, indicates that 88% of respondents reported a strong sense of attachment to their primary language, while 85% said the same for Canada. The greater importance of the language was particularly notable among Francophones and indigenous peoples.
Strong attachment to primary language is more important than ethnic group, geographic region, racial identity, and religious affiliation.
Association for Canadian Studies President Jack Jedwab believes the poll results underscore the important role of language in people’s identity. In his opinion, given what it represents for a community, the importance of language should not be downplayed, as it has the dual function of enabling communication and being an expression of culture.
“We have not paid enough attention in the past to the indigenous languages in which our federal government is now investing heavily and trying to preserve and revitalize them.observed Mr Jedwab.
Of Canadians whose primary language is French, 91% reported a strong sense of connection with their language, compared to 67% who reported the same feeling for Canada. In Quebec, more people reported a strong sense of attachment to their primary language than to the province.
Only 37% of Canadians reported being strongly associated with a religious group.
The results precede the release of Statistics Canada’s latest census data on the country’s languages.
According to Jack Jedwab, the release of the census will be particularly important for Quebec, where the state of the French language relative to other languages will be closely monitored.
The Léger poll also found that more than half of French-speaking Quebecers say they speak English well enough to have a conversation. This contrasts with less than one in ten English speakers in all provinces except Quebec and New Brunswick who say they can hold a conversation in French.
According to the latest census, Anglo-French bilingualism increased from 17.5% in 2011 to 17.9% in 2016, the highest bilingualism rate in Canadian history. More than 60% of this growth in bilingualism is in Quebec.
The online survey was conducted between July 8th and 10th among 1,764 Canadians. No margin of error can be assigned.
Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press
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