Quebec Studies

Québec's Language Laws and the Allophone Community: Toward a Morphology of Contemporary Québec Society

Quebec Studies (1987), 5, (1), 39–59.

Abstract

Qu6bec Studies, No.5,1987 Q h B E C S LANGUAGE LAWS AND THE ALLOPHONE COMMUNITY: TOWARD A MORPHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARYQ ~ B E SOCIETY C Raymond Taras The language controversies that dominated Qu4bec politics in the 1970s have abated as concern has tuned to economic problems. The salience of the language issue remains great, however, as the new government of Robert Bourassa, formed in December 1985, seeks to "liberalize" the laws inherited from the nine-year administration of the Parti qu&icois, which gave priority to French. Court challenges to these laws-a number of which have succeeded -have also resurrected the language issue and, in this way, have inadvertently provided the flagging nationalist forces with a fresh asus belli. Much of the attention created by language issues has focused on the traditional struggle for power within Confederation between French- and English-Canadians-the country's two "charter groups." However, an important role in the controversy has been played by allophones, that is, ethnic and immigrant groups who settled in Quebec and whose mother tongue was neither French nor English. The language debate itself was largely triggered by the patterns of integration and acculturation of allophones into Qu6bec's respective francophone and anglophone communities. The largest allophone group, the Italians, is the special focus of this article. I have described patterns of integration of Italians into Qu6bec's two communities in my book, Le Conflit linguistique UIJ Qu&ec. My objective here is to conceptualize about the nature of Quebec society in the aftermath of language legislation and its impad on allophone groups. Four sets of conceptual categories seem useful tools with which to evaluate the morphology of Qu6bec society. The first pair is culture and language and the second, state and society. The third set concerns majority and minority rights: how did the political outcomes of the debate impinge on these respective rights? Finally, the study concludes with an assessment of the pluralist or monist nature of Quebec society: did the language laws produce a more diversified or homogeneous society?

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Taras, Raymond