Home » Uncategorized » 这加拿大说法语的情况就是什么意思?(#113)

这加拿大说法语的情况就是什么意思?(#113)

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Today, Statistics Québec (a provincial government statistics agency) published Québec’s most recent immigrant numbers.   The largest single source of immigrants for Québec in 2013 were:

  • 1st place:  China (9.9% of immigrants)
  • 2nd place:  France (8.7% of immigrants)
  • 3rd place:  Algeria (8% of immigrants)

In Québec, the children of these immigrants will be doing their school entirely in French.   These immigrants have chosen Québec in this context.

What I find interesting, however, are questions I receive from Chinese immigrants outside Québec, regarding French in Canada.  They’re very curious and it’s a topic of discussion many like to talk about.  I’m kind of in a unique position to be able to speak a bit about this.

When I entered private industry and went back to China as part of my second career, for all intensive purposes, I was only one of the 0.5% of foreigners in China who “immigrated” there – residency, house purchase, vehicle purchase, Chinese “job” and all (when most foreigners go to China, they are only there on a short-term basis on a working permit, with little or no integration into Chinese society).  As part of the process, I was given 2 years to get my Mandarin Chinese up to a level in which I could do all of my work in Chinese without difficulty (meetings, reports, email, giving training, everything really), or I’d have to leave.  That is a pretty blunt option – but I had been working on my Chinese for a number of years in my previous career, so I already had a pretty good base.  But it was a challenge nonetheless – and one which I did manage to overcome.  Overall, I was only one of two people who spoke English in our company of 350 workers.   It was quite an experience.   On top of that, I lived in a city and district with very few other foreigners (I would sometimes go weeks without seeing another foreigner or hearing English).   For many years, my friends, social life, and work were only in Chinese.

I say this because I can completely sympathize with new immigrants to Canada.  I have gone through the exact same experiences… perhaps even more extreme than what many of them go through (I didn’t have a lot of the same support networks around me in terms of foreigners who were going through what I was experiencing).

In Canada’s context, French and English, and Canada’s bilingualism must be a bewildering topic for many new immigrants, especially those who chose to immigrate to Anglophone regions and provinces outside Québec.   Not only do many immigrants come from multi-language countries where only one language has legal precedence over all the others (such as China, were Mandarin is the only language allowed to be spoken in education, health-care, or any official services, thus relegating other languages like Cantonese to being a non-protected folk-language, even in Cantonese-majority areas), but to be a immigrant to Canada and to be asked to learn two languages at the same time (French and English) must simply be out of the question for many people.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like if I was asked to learn both Mandarin and Cantonese at the same time, with the justification being that it was part of my “civic duty” to China.  I was having enough trouble just learning one language, Mandarin, in the first few years – let alone having to contemplate taking on another difficult-to-learn language.

Since moving back to Canada in 2013, I have met many Chinese immigrants whose experiences here are parallel with my experiences there.  When we share our stories, one thing that comes up from time-to-time is Canada’s linguistic duality.  You would think that if someone was going to pack up their life and start a new life in a country on the other side of the world, that they would do a lot of research beforehand – but surprisingly, many do not.  Therefore, many people who I speak with are at loss for how to view or understand Canada’s bilingual nature.  They come from a country with many languages (China is a country of many languages, with some having more than 100 million speakers), but they are only “allowed” to speak one language in anything government related – Mandarin.  Many people in China have lost their local languages because of this.   But China’s history and Canada’s history are very different.   The reasons behind the systems and cultural paths we chose to maintain are also very different.  It is this difference which is often poorly understood on the part of Chinese immigrants (as well as on the part of other new immigrants).  Chinese immigrants often assume Canada’s and the United State’s linguistic situation is the same, without realizing that English and French have equal status at a government level, and, depending where we live in Canada, at a societal level as well.   I’m told time and time again by newcomers that the idea of two lingua-francas has left them perplexed – especially when I speak with new immigrants who settle in areas where other people from their country also settle, thus giving them little exposure to Canada beyond those areas.   I suppose it’s natural – and I can’t fault them (heck… the number of Canadians I met in China who “refused” to live or integrate into areas or neighbourhoods of China without other foreigners would astound you — they looked at me like I was from another planet when they found out my own situation in China).

I know my blog is being read by some fairly new immigrants to English-speaking Canada — it’s a curiosity for them, and they’re trying to learn more about realities on the ground.  They know their children will be learning French at school, and they’re looking for a bit more context, considering their children will be exposed to a different reality (the second generation’s experiences are often completely different from that of first generation immigrants – which is why I don’t have problems with the concept of official multiculturalism… things work themselves out over the course of two generations).  They know the cultural differences between them and their children could be as large as the ones I had with my grandparents (or even great-grandparents), and so they want more information — they want to know what their children will be experiencing as they grow up… that’s natural and it’s a sign of good, concerned parenting.

Canada’s Chinese population is quickly approaching 2 million people (the United States, with almost 10 times the population of Canada, only has 3.5 million people of Chinese decent).   Chinese is the third most spoken language in Canada, and some large areas of Toronto are over 50% to 60% Chinese (some areas of Vancouver are also experiencing similar trends, and Canada’s other major cities are also receiving large numbers of Chinese immigrants).   The Greater Toronto Area has almost 1 million people of Chinese decent — the new beefed-up, super-sized 626 of the North (who needs the San-Gab Valley when you have the big TO!?).   With Toronto’s largest two ethnic groups being from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), and East Asia (China & Korea), culturally, Toronto seems to have more and more in common with Singapore.. well, a snowy one at any rate — with an increasingly similar demographic mix — than it does with Chicago (a city of a similar size — but… also a snowy one 😉 😉 😉 ).  I think it’s great – and makes the city so unique.

The rest of this post will therefore be written for first generation Chinese immigrants who are reading this blog outside Québec (see JD… told ya I’d throw one in here for ya)…  giving a bit of background and the lo-down on French in Canada, and using some comparisons between China and Canada as base reference points.


当你想到魁北克,想起什么?脑子里出现的首先想到的往往很可能是法语。可是,在加拿大的背景下,法语有什么寓意?

在中国,新中国成立以前,每个区域有它自己方言。但是新中国成立以前,中国是经过太混乱状态的时刻。为了恢复秩序,反击这股地区性思潮是必要的。人民共和国成立后,中国就进入了一个新历史时期。新领导人是必须用坚定的信念人民团结起来,基本原则是积极鼓励及促进普通话的教学。那些结果不容争辩,在终止冲突的过程中及国家经发展起了重要作用。

虽然在许多情况下, 这可能是适当的对策, 但每个国家的历史和状态,包括加拿大,不一样。

在加拿大,我们也有一种的“方言”情况,英文和法语,可是没有一个“普通话”。在这方面来看,加拿大的语言情况同中国的清朝那时语言情况非常类似(新中国以前的清朝也是一个无有普通话的时代)。英语和法语的差别同汉语和粤语的差别一样大,甚至也可能更大。所以呢,为什么加拿大没有推行一种公共语言计划,采用一种通用的普通话的政策? 英文不是加拿大的普通话吗? 实际上,不是。为什么?是一个历史的问题。我做些解释,你很快就会明白我的意思了。

1600年左右,第一群到达北美洲的移民是法国人。所以呢,北美洲第一个语言是法语。后来,英国移民到达了北美洲的其它地方。英国和法国战争了,法国输了这场战争。但是,大多数的北美洲人还是说法语的。英国当时不够强大逼迫法国移民说英文。

为了避免说法语的人爆发起义,英国三百年前决定最合适的方法管理北美洲是分裂加拿大到不同的区域,给每个区域一种独立政府。后果是每个区域变成一种半独立的国家。那样,英国不用担心整体加拿大要爆发起义。

其实,当时所有的说英语和法语的人对英国都不满意,原因是因为英国对待所有公民的方法并不善良(税率太高,民主主义不够,等等)。所以呢,为了让人满意,分裂加拿大到好多不同的区域确实是最明智的反应。结果是加拿大不同的新区域有不同的官方语言。当时有四个大区域:安大略,魁北克,新布伦兹维克和新斯科舍。

1867年,这四个“半自主性的国家”都一块儿决定了联合起来,组成一个新国家叫加拿大。可是,像任何国家,它们并不要放弃他们各自语言(比如魁北克还要保护他们独特语言,安大略也要保护他们的)。所以呢,他们都决定了制定一套法律和制度为了保护各自语言。他们创立了加拿大的“联邦政府”。联邦政府的作用是负责国家四个省的共同利益的问题(当时还只有四个省)。可是因为每个省政府以前是一种“半自主性的国家”,它们都同意保护他们以前的各自好多独立的权利和法律(比如每个省要负责它自己的教育制度,医疗保健制度,语言制度,等等,而它们同意了联邦政府可以负责国防,外交事务,等等)。它们制定了宪法,宪法说联邦政府可以负责什么服务,省政府可以负责什么服务,而且每层政府无权干涉另一政府的事情(比如,联邦政府不能关于教育或语言事情给省政府下命令,则省政府不能给联邦政府说怎么负责联邦政府有权的事情)。

加拿大1867年成立后,其它北美洲的区域渐渐参加了加拿大(艾伯塔省,曼尼托巴省,BC省,等等)。参加条件按照原来宪法写的条件一样。一个很有意思的事情,加拿大全国面积上当时有好多说法语的人(说法语的人不只在魁北克省住,甚至在魁北克外面那儿都有说法语人,可是在魁北克外面他们都是少数人)。所以呢,所有省政府决定了在宪法里需要保护加拿大说法语人的个人语言权利,要不然政府和国家会遇到好多不安,好多不稳定的问题。

1960年代时,因为魁北克的原来制度比别省制度很不一样,有好多魁北克人认为他们受别省的对待不公平。魁北克人也是说魁北克外面说法语人的权利越来越少(比如安省,艾省在那儿说法语人的个人语言权利越来越少)。魁北克对这个情况变得很不满意,他们说这个情况是直接违反原来签约的宪法。所以呢,开始有好多魁北克人要独立,要离开加拿大的联邦。你想想看,他们的想法其实是对的。

由于这个问题,加拿大的联邦政府和所有省政府1982年修改了加拿大的宪法,把宪法加强效应。新修改的宪法说联邦政府要给英语和法语平等权利。所以,所有省政府也同意了这个观念,因此它们给了加拿大所有的说法语的人好多平等权利,比如教育权利,政府服务权利,等等。1982以后,加拿大采取好多新法规说全国有两个普通话,英文和法文。肯定不是每个地方说法文,而也不是每个地方说英文,可是目的是鼓励加拿大人开始说双语,否则加拿大未来会遇到很厉害的宪法和独立性的问题。

如果你是新移民人,你可能住一个那儿有好多移民人的区域(比如万锦市 [Markham],列治文 [Richmond],等等)。所以,英法双语可能在你的区域里不太明显,可是十分可能你的孩子在学校里在学法文。那是非常好,一个非常“加拿大”的重要公民义务。你的孩子就业技能,国家意识,及公民义务意识会更好。这个是一个跟美国请款很大的差别,历史上是一个非常大的差别。这个方面,加拿大和美国完全不一样,所以,为了成功,这个情况我们并不能对待一样。

每年在加拿大,在魁北克外面,有越来越多人学法语。加拿大政府和人完全明白移民第一代会觉得学两个语言很难,可是目的是移民第二代人(比如孩子)都会学法文。可是如果你是移民到魁北克,第一个学语言是法语的,要不然你会遇到好多社会问题。一个好多新来移民不知道的事情是加拿大好多其它地方也说法语,比如安大略省最北方的区域第一个语言是法语,新布伦兹维克省北方的语言也是法文,及几个其它小区域也说法文(曼尼托巴几个小区域,等等)。

因此我鼓励你把这个话题研究一下。你可能会觉得我们这个情况非常有意思。

dnds.trnt

Nope… not Hong Kong… Rather Dundas & Spadina in Toronto

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