Linguistic security: a stepping stone to progress

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Back in the early 1980s, my grade seven French teacher, Mr. Belcourt (who was from Quebec) made a point of telling us that the Alberta school curriculum required him to teach us what he called “Parisian French” and not his own French, the French he learned in his home province.

I wonder now how he felt about this.

The Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF) just released its national strategy for linguistic security, which speaks to the concepts of linguistic security and linguistic insecurity in a Francophone context.

The FJCF says in a press release:

“Many Canadians who are capable of expressing themselves in French opt to do so in English instead for fear of being judged on the quality of their French or on their accent. For Canadian francophones from minority communities, this intimidation and linguistic insecurity can have a direct impact on the very vitality of the community.”

Linguistic insecurity is complex and can come with feelings of vulnerability, guilt, shame, and sadness. French speakers may have a linguistic “standard” that they cannot meet in mind, or a feeling that some types of French are more “right” than others.

The repercussions of linguistic insecurity can be enormous.

For Francophone individuals, the ultimate manifestation is silence.

For communities it can lead to “a free-fall in the number of French-language speakers, fewer people using services offered in French and a gradual erosion of rights.”

The FJCF developed the strategy to foster linguistic security through community consultation. It focuses on making improvements in four practical areas: education, employment, culture/media, and public policy.

I think it’s important for all Canadians to read the FJCF’s document.

I also encourage you to read Vanessa’s blog post on the topic.

Catherine Fisher, blogger