Center for the Study of Language and Society (CSLS)

Center for the Study of Language and Society

The Shaping and Shifting of Quebec’s National Identity: Implications for Language Attitudes amongst Immigrants in Montreal

Donnerstag, 27.04.2017, 16:15 Uhr

Ruth Kircher, Liverpool Hope University

Das Forum Language and Society ist eine Reihe von Gastvorträgen zu Themen der Soziolinguistik. Doktorierende der GSH können sich die Teilnahme als Zuhörende mit 0,25 ECTS pro Vortrag anrechnen lassen.

Veranstaltende: Forum Language and Society
Redner, Rednerin: Ruth Kircher, Liverpool Hope University
Datum: 27.04.2017
Uhrzeit: 16:15 - 17:45 Uhr
Ort: F-121
Lerchenweg 36
3012 Bern
Merkmale: Öffentlich


Quebec is Canada’s only province with a French-speaking majority. French there faces the challenge of English not only due to its role as the language of upward mobility in the rest of Canada but also because of its status as the global lingua franca. Most immigrants to Quebec concentrate in the province’s urban centre, Montreal. While the rest of Quebec is quite homogeneously French-speaking, Montreal is thus home not only to a significant English-speaking community but also to newcomers who are speakers of a vast variety of other mother tongues. As a consequence of its diversity, Montreal holds a special status in Quebec. It is generally assumed that this is where the linguistic future of the province will be determined – primarily by the immigrants, who constitute a growing percentage share of the city’s population. The future of the French language is strongly linked with their linguistic integration into Montreal’s francophone (rather than its anglophone) community.

The immigrants’ linguistic integration is, to a large part, determined by their language attitudes – and these, in turn, are affected by the immigrants’ sense of belonging. This paper will trace the development of national identity in Quebec: from ethnic to civic, and back to ethnic. Based on questionnaire data collected from several hundred immigrants in Montreal at different points in time, the paper will show how this shaping and shifting of Quebec’s national identity has affected the immigrants’ sense of belonging – with regard to the city they live in, the province of Quebec, and Canada as a whole. The paper will then show the manner in which the immigrants’ sense of belonging has affected their attitudes towards French and English. The language attitudes held by first- and second-generation immigrants will be compared to those held by non-immigrants. The paper will discuss the implications of these attitudes for the linguistic future of Quebec, and it will conclude by commenting on the implications of the findings for language policy and planning in the province.

Ruth Kircher, Liverpool Hope University

Ruth Kircher is Lecturer in English Language at Liverpool Hope University. She has previously taught at SOAS and Birkbeck in London, and at the University of Birmingham. Ruth's research is in sociolinguistics and the social psychology of language, with a special focus on societal multilingualism and related issues such as social identities, language attitudes, language choices, and language policy and planning. She is also interested in language issues in multicultural urban centres and more generally in issues relating to language and migration.