In a rejoicing fact for the Indians, the census data of Canada shows that Punjabi is among the top three languages spoken in the country and Hindi has been among the fastest growing languages over the last half decade. And as Canada defines immigrant languages as the languages other than French and English, which originated from the migrants to the country, a government data based on the 2016 Census unveils that about 7.6 million Canadians reportedly speaks languages other than English and French at home. With the steady rise in linguistic diversity, there has been an increase of almost 1 million people who speak immigrant languages in Canada.
Among those speaking immigrant languages at home, Punjabi comes third after Mandarin and Cantonese, while in 20112 census figures shows Punjabi as the second most spoken immigrant language in Canada, when the two Chinese languages were considered as one. Even as the number of people speaking Punjabi has increased to over 18 per cent with a total of 568,375 people speaking the Indian language, Hindi has witnessed the largest increase, with a total of 175,000 people speaking the language. Among other Indian languages, Gujarati and Tamil has also seen steady increase. While the Gujarati-speaking population has gone up by 21 percent, Tamil is also among the top 22 immigrant languages spoken in Canada.
As reported by the Hindustan Times, Bonny Norton, a Professor and University Scholar in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia termed the rise in Hindi speaking population in Canada as ‘particularly notable’. She further stated that the steep rise might gradually impact policy in future as usually in schools mother tongue of children is valued to make sure the children grows bilingual.
However, other Indian languages like Bengali, Telegu or Konkani couldn’t find a p[lace in the census data due to lack of noticeable presence in Canada. Punjabi is also the mostly spoken immigrant mother toungue in British Columbia and is among the top three in urban regions of the country like Greater Toronto Area, Metro Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
By- Priyam Mukhopadhyay