Allophone (Quebec)

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In Quebec, an allophone is a resident, usually an immigrant, whose mother tongue or home language is neither French nor English.[1][2] The term can also be sometimes used in other parts of Canada. The term parallels Anglophone (English-speaker), and Francophone, which designate people whose mother tongues are English and French, respectively. Note that native speakers of aboriginal languages are generally not treated as allophones.

Origin of term[edit]

The word "allophone" is formed from the Greek roots allos, meaning other, and phone, meaning sound or voice. The term became popularized during the Quiet Revolution as French Canadian society in Quebec sought to integrate immigrants, most of whom had traditionally integrated into the English-speaking community. As integrating immigrants was deemed essential to assure the survival of French-speaking Quebec in light of plummeting birth rates, demographers devised this category to monitor the integration of immigrants into French- and English-speaking communities. Because allophones often adopt English, French or both languages at home or learn one language before another, they can be grouped into English or French communities based on home language or first official language learned.

Demographics[edit]

Quebec allophone population by mother tongue 2001 [3]
Language Single Multiple
Total
1. Italian 124,695 6,065
2. Arabic 76,285 10,245
3. Spanish 70,100 4,825
4. Greek 41,980 1,755
5. Haitian Creole 34,885 5,710
6. Chinese 33,490 705
7. Portuguese 33,360 1,455
8. Vietnamese 21,635 1,125
9. German 17,690 995
10. Polish 17,160 685
11. Armenian 13,935 405
12. Romanian 12,660 460
13. Russian 12,420 355
14. Tamil 11,095 860
15. Persian 10,495 395

Allophones constitute an increasing share of the Quebec population and are the main source of population increase in the province, reflecting both increased levels of immigration, declining birthrates among established anglophone and francophone populations, and a shift in immigration from English-speaking countries to Asia and the Americas.[4] In 1971, allophones accounted for 6.6% of the population; by 2001, the numbers had increased to 10.0%. Speakers of Arabic, Spanish and Haitian Creole experienced the greatest growth from 1996 to 2001.[5]

Increasing numbers of allophones choose to speak French at home: about 20.4% of allophones in the province reported that they spoke French most often at home in 2001, compared with 16.6% in 1996 and 15.4% in 1991.[5] Most allophones live in Montreal, Quebec's largest metropolitan area, drawn by economic opportunities. They tend to migrate out of the province: between 1996 and 2001, over 19,170 migrated to other provinces, a value closely mirroring the 18,810 who migrated to Ontario.[6]

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