Languages of Canada

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Distribution of language families, language isolates and unclassified languages in Canada and United States (and Greenland) before European contact - click a shaded region!
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The majority languages in Canada are English and French, they are also the two official languages of the country. English is the official language de jure or de facto of most provinces, while French is the official language in Quebec, and New Brunswick has both languages as official languages (Manitoba also has some official reconnaissance of French).

English spoken in Canada follow the rules of British English, but is orally closer to American English while having its own distinct particularities. On the other side, French in Canada is very different from the French spoken elsewhere in the world. There are two main distinctive categories of French in Canada: Quebec French and Acadian French, respectively spoken in Quebec and in the Atlantic provinces. Both have their own particularities and have kept many aspects of the French that was spoken at the time of colonization during the 17th and 18th centuries that have been abandoned in Europe. The "chiac" is a mix of Acadian French and English spoken in New Brunswick. There is also several communities of French speakers in Ontario called Franco-Ontariens that speak a French influenced by English at different levels from a community to another. Some French minority communities also exist throughout the rest of Canada.

However, prior to European colonization of the North American continent, the vast lands of Canada were the territories of many Amerindians and Inuits nations. It also saw the development of the Métis nation, a nation from French and Cree descendants that speak Michif, a mix of Cree and French. Western Canada also saw the Bungi language, a creole of Scottish English influenced by Scottish Gaelic, Cree and Ojibwe, but it is most likely extinct today.

Knowing the exact number of Aboriginal languages across Canada is almost impossible especially since many Natives speak English or French as a mother tongue and most of them have only a limited passive knowledge of their ancestral languages. The task is even more difficult since the majority of languages has many dialects. Ethnologue lists 63 languages for Canada[1]. There are only three indigenous languages of Canada that are not threatened or endangered: Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibwe. Below is the most exhaustive list of indigenous languages of Canada that are not considered dead.

List of indigenous languages of Canada[edit]

Note: This list only includes languages that are still existing today (i.e. languages with living speakers) that are indigenous to Canada (although some are also present in the United States).

Language (English name) Speakers[2] Location ISO 639[3]
(Wikipedia link
if existing)
Status
Abenaki 20 Quebec abe Critically endangered
Algonquin 2,275 Quebec and Ontario alq Severely endangered
Assiniboine 200 Saskatchewan asb Critically endangered
Atikamekw 3,995 Quebec atj (cr) Vulnerable
Babine 1,600 British Columbia bcr Severely endangered
Beaver 300 Alberta and British Columbia bea Definitely endangered
Bella Coola 200 British Columbia blc Critically endangered
Blackfoot 4,745 Alberta bla Definitely endangered
Carrier 2,000 British Columbia crx, caf Severely endangered
Cayuga 360 Ontario cay Critically endangered
Chilcotin 705 British Columbia clc Definitely endangered
Chinook Wawa 83 British Columbia chn
Chipewyan (Dene) 4,000 Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northwest Territories chp Vulnerable
Comox 400 British Columbia coo Critically endangered
Moose Cree 4,500 Ontario crm (cr) Vulnerable
Northeastern Cree 5,308 Quebec crl (cr) Vulnerable
Plains Cree 34,000 Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba crk (cr) Vulnerable
Southeastern Cree 7,306 Quebec crj (cr) Vulnerable
Swampy Cree 4,500 Ontario csw (cr) Vulnerable
Woods Cree 4,500 Ontario cwd (cr) Vulnerable
Dakota (Sioux) 2,085 Manitoba and Saskatchewan dak Definitely endangered
Dogrib 2,085 Northwest Territories dgr Vulnerable
Northern Haida 30 British Columbia hdn (hai) Critically endangered
Southern Haida 10 British Columbia hax (hai) Critically endangered
Haisla 25 British Columbia has Critically endangered
Halkomelem 200 British Columbia hur Severely endangered
Han 7 Yukon haa Critically endangered
Heiltsuk 300 British Columbia hei Critically endangered
Eastern Inuktitut 14,000 Quebec and Labrador ike (iu) Vulnerable
Western Inuktitut (Inuinnaqtun) 4,000 Nunavut ikt (iu) Definitely endangered
Kaska 400 British Columbia kkz Severely endangered
Kutenai 120 British Columbia kut Severely endangered
Kwakiutl (Kwak'wala) 250 British Columbia kwk Critically endangered
Lillooet 400 British Columbia lil Severely endangered
Gitxsan 1,330 British Columbia git Severely endangered
Gwich'in (Loucheux) 430 Northwest Territories gwi Severely endangered
Malecite-Passamaquoddy 655 Quebec and New Brunswick pqm Definitely endangered
Michif 840 Manitoba crg Critically endangered
Micmac (Mi'kmaq) 7,310 Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland mic Vulnerable
Mohawk 350 Ontario and Quebec moh Definitely endangered
Montagnais (Innu) 8,483 Quebec and Labrador moe (cr) Vulnerable
Munsee 7 Ontario umu Critically endangered
Naskapi 1,177 Quebec and Labrador nsk (cr) Vulnerable
Niska (Nisga'a) 2,000 British Columbia ncg Severely endangered
Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) 590 British Columbia noo Severely endangered
Northern Ojibway (Oji-Cree) 8,000 Manitoba and Ontario ojb (oji) Vulnerable
Ojibway (Saulteux) 35,000 British Columbia and Saskatchewan ojc, ojg, ojs, ojw (oji) Vulnerable, definitely and severely endangered
Okanagan (N'syilxcen) 500 British Columbia oka Definitely endangered
Oneida 200 Ontario one Critically endangered
Onondaga 100 Ontario ono Critically endangered
Ottawa (Odawa, Nishnaabemwin) 7,100 Ontario otw Severely endangered
Potawatomi 1,250 Ontario pot Critically endangered
Salish Straits 30 British Columbia str Severely endangered
Sarsi (Tsuu T'ina) 50 Alberta srs Critically endangered
Sechelt (Shíshálh) 40 British Columbia sec Critically endangered
Sekani 500 British Columbia sek Critically endangered
Seneca 25 Ontario see Critically endangered
Shuswap (Secwepemc) 745 British Columbia shs Definitely endangered
North Slavey 290 Northwest Territories scs (den) Definitely endangered
South Slavey 2,620 Northwest Territories xsl (den) Definetely endangered
Squamish 20 British Columbia squ Critically endangered
Stoney (Nakota) 1,500 Alberta sto Vulnerable
Tagish 2 British Columbia tgx Critically endangered
Tahltan 40 Yukon tht Critically endangered
Tanana 10 Yukon tau Critically endangered
Thompson 595 British Columbia thp Severely endangered
Tlingit 145 British Columbia and Yukon tli Critically endangered
Tuscarora 8 Ontario tus Critically endangered
Tsimshian 432 British Columbia tsi Critically endangered
Northern Tutchone 800 Yukon ttm Definitely endangered
Southern Tutchone 1,000 Yukon tce Critically endangered

References[edit]

  1. http://www.ethnologue.org
  2. Numbers vary a lot between sources, real numbers are probably lower than the ones indicated.
  3. Languages Codes by Ethnologue

External resources[edit]

See also[edit]