How Language Planning Lies Within the Political and Cultural Structures of a Country. Case Study: Language Policies in Canada.

As a sociolinguistic field of activity, language planning is an applied discipline. It borrows some of its theoretical concepts from other disciplines such as linguistics, sociology, demography, politics and even economics.

This article describes the language planning situations in Canada where thirteen different language policies are found, either implicitly or explicitly. Only explicit policies are considered here, as they illustrate two views of language planning.

On the one hand, in Quebec, the situation is viewed globally, on the basis of an analysis its sociolinguistic dynamic and of its choice of appropriate vectors that contribute to the reinforcement of the French language in administration and in society. Language planning is also viewed as being related to the protection of minority languages and to consumer rights.

On the other hand, the Canadian government has declared institutional bilingualism, with French and English being official languages. On the provincial level, the adoption of this status has been left up to the provinces and territories. Both New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories have taken advantage of this official status; their language planning and actual situations are presented.

With regards to language planning in Canada and in Quebec, the actual elements on which these policies are based are explained in interrelationship with each other. This provides the reader with a picture of both situations. Distinctions are also made between political linguistics, language planning and language legislation; between institutional bilingualism and functional bilingualism; and between implicit and explicit policies. Some methodological procedures regarding sociolinguistic situations are also explained, using information from language commissions and other sources.

On the whole, this article could be useful to those interested in gaining a deeper knowledge of language planning concepts in general and of the Canadian situation in particular. The theoretical and methodological approaches to the issues may help also readers better understand other texts in DiversCité Langues.