Quebec Studies

Language Policy in Québec: La Survivance, 1967-1982

Quebec Studies (1984), 2, (1), 55–69.


LANGUAGE POLICY IN QUEBEC: LA SURVIVANCE, 1967-1982 Peter Woolfson Leon Dion wrote: The language question in Quebec is a thorny one. To raise it is to set sail in dangerous waters and undertake, at the risk of found­ ering, to define a variety of coordinates of demographic, economic, socio-psychological, cultural, juridical and political bearing. Great are the risks of misunderstanding along the way. The problems to be resolved are more than likely to beget violent disputes, since they are visceral in quality and invite irrational reactions 1 It is thus with much trepidation that I "set sail" in these "dan­ gerous waters." R. F. Inglehart and M. Woodward argue that language conflict in Québec is the results of "demands for equal dignity, a resentment of the superior attitude often adop­ ted by the dominant English minority which has been associ­ ated with the competition for economic positions." Certainly, economic imperialism and British colonialism figure into the politics of language in Québec, but it would be a mistake to see the language issue solely in terms of economic and colonial imperialism. Paul Cappon suggests that we look at inter-ethnic conflict in Québec in terms of two different types of national­ ism: economic and cultural. He points out that the line be­ tween the two kinds of nationalism cannot be neatly drawn. However, an ever-occurring theme in discussions of the language question in Québec centers on la survivance-, the need to protect and preserve French Canadian culture and identity. The concept of la survivance has undergone considerable change in the last two decades. Before the Quiet Revolution, the dominant focus of the nationalists was a church-based sense of la survivance. Marcel Rioux characterizes the ideology be­ hind this nationalism as conservationist: 2 3

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Author details

Woolfson, Peter