Politics of French in Canada: Reminiscence of Past European History

Authors: Sylvie Roy (University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
Julie Byrd Clark (Western University, Ontario, Canada)
Speakers: Sylvie Roy, Julie Byrd Clark
Topic: Applied Sociolinguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL COMELA 2022 General Session


Languages stories and identities in Canada, especially what we call French, continue to reflect the history and power domination of its European origins. French is one of the Official languages of Canada but also a minority language for some of its communities outside of the province of Québec. It is protected by strong ideological and political influence. In this presentation, we would like to reflect on how historical, cultural and social aspect of French are reproduced but also how transnational fluidity and multilingual practices are deconstructing or unbounding the idea of how French is seen in two Canadians provinces: Alberta and Ontario. Drawing upon Byrd Clark’s work (2016), we argue for a transdisciplinary approach where the use of French, its teaching and learning can be seen as the crossing between disciplines, literacies, modalities, repertoires, codes, contexts, and learning environments. In addition, we are using Pennycook and Makoni’s (2020) idea that as researchers we will self-reflect and be opened to adopt dialectic and multiple perspectives on our data. Our data comes from longitudinal and sociolinguistics ethnographic studies from two provinces over a period of 10 years and more. We interviewed participants (students, parents, administrators, teachers) in schools, especially French immersion schools, and outside schools in order to find discourses related to French, where those discourses come from and what are the long term effects of those discourses especially for those learning French. We also like to examine and investigate social processes (e.g. social categorization, marginalization, etc.) and how ideologies can impact as well as impede processes of social identity construction and language learning. By looking at new discourses from multilinguals youth learning French and using their repertoires every day, we can demonstrate how the ‘old’ can be unbounded by youths every day practices.

Keywords: French, multilinguals, transdisciplinarity