29 October 2012

William Johnson: French is not in danger

French is not in danger

How could so many have so misrepresented the results? They relied on percentages - French compared to all other languages. So the number of French speakers increased across the country, but the number speaking other languages increased even more. That was the "decline" reported by so many - as though French were in a life-and-death struggle against all other languages.
This slanted perception of reality is not innocent. In 1988, in the Ford v. Quebec decision, the Supreme Court of Canada accepted the Quebec government's argument that the very survival of French was threatened. The numbers alleged in court mostly dated from before the Quiet Revolution. And so the court ruled that, because French's very survival was threatened, it was acceptable for the Quebec government to restrict the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights. The government could impose a "marked predominance" on commercial signs. Marked predominance of French, or, more accurately, the near-total dominance of French, has become accepted as the norm, and not just for commercial signs, but in all areas of life.

No comments: