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According to the OQLF, the use of French in public is stable.  truly?

According to the OQLF, the use of French in public is stable. truly?

The Quebec Office of the French Language (OQLF) has gone to great lengths to publish a study concluding that not only has the use of French in public remained stable since 2007, but at the same time, the use of English has declined. ! What excellent and completely unexpected news!

This stability in French since 2007 is even more evident given that, during the period 2006-2021, the proportion of French speakers (the language most often spoken at home) decreased by 2.7% in Quebec. The number of French speakers, the only population that mostly uses French in public, is in free decline but this does not affect the use of French. Awesome.

At the same time, the number of people who do not know French in Quebec is constantly increasing. Thus, temporary immigrants now make up 6% of Quebec's population and almost a third of them do not know French. Since 2011, the proportion of the population who do not know French has increased by 52%, and the proportion of those who work in English has increased by 41%. Knowledge of French also declined among English speakers in the 2021 census, going from 68.8% to 67.1%, a drop of 1.7 points (and the first drop in this indicator in decades).


When we put it all together, the resistance to French as a language of general use, while we are witnessing a collapse in the proportion of French speakers and an increase in unfamiliarity with French-English monolingualism in Quebec, is quite remarkable.

What is most surprising about this survey is that the use of English as a common language declined from 2016 to 2022, from 11.4% to 8.2%, a massive drop of 3.2 points. However, the proportion of English speakers in the population increased from 2006 to 2021 according to census data, rising from 10.6% to 10.7% (the language most often spoken at home). The increase in the proportion of English speakers in the population is associated with the decline of English as a common language. enormous!

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Enough joke. Generally speaking, if it sounds too good to be true…it's not true. The end of the daydream.

While all indicators of French are declining and English is booming in Quebec, this survey presents data that is anomalous to a coherent picture. In science, in the absence of additional data pointing in the same direction, a discordant point on the curve will most often be interpreted as a measurement error. There is every reason to believe that is the case with this poll. On Facebook, demographer Guillaume Marois criticized his methodology (here(Confirming that the non-response rate for the 2016 survey reached 54% and that it reached 77% for the 2022 survey)here).

Non-response rate

Excessively high nonresponse rates are likely to introduce strong sample bias. This is not taken into account in the small section on methodology the study, and he is also very thin. Note that many journals require characterization of non-respondents in order to assess potential survey bias once the non-response rate exceeds a certain threshold of 20–40%. Therefore, the OQLF survey could never have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

This is not the first time the OQLF has pulled the trick of advertising false “stability” of the French language. The last time was in 2018, under a Liberal government. The OQLF then announced that “the use of French at work [était] Almost stable for about 20 years. that was forgedAs 2016 census data, published shortly after, showed.

In short, although the decline of the French language has become evident as never before in our history, for FNL enthusiasts it is not only embarrassing, it has become downright unacceptable. The French Language Commissioner, who is independent of the government, should look into this matter.

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Frederic Lacroix, Independent researcher, Quebec