Skip to comments.French language thriving ... in Florida
Posted on 10/15/2003 6:36:16 AM PDT by Loyalist
Sunshine state overtakes Ontario in number of francophones
Graeme Hamilton National Post
MONTREAL - Quebec is often described as an island of French in an English sea but new census data reveal the emergence of a second island, and this one has palm trees.
Florida, long the recipient of a Speedo-clad French-Canadian diaspora, has overtaken Ontario as the North American jurisdiction with the most French-speakers outside Quebec.
The dramatic increase in the number of people speaking French at home in Florida is largely attributable to a recent influx of Haitian immigrants, but French-Canadians still account for a large part of Florida's French fact.
Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, said he was surprised to discover the phenomenon as part of a study of the status of French across North America. He sees in the numbers a glimmer of hope for those preoccupied by the fate of the French language.
"The most remarkable finding was the growth of the French language in Florida, considering the view that French is disappearing outside Quebec and quite rapidly in the United States," he said.
Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Floridians speaking French at home rose to 337,605 from 194,783, an increase of 73%. By comparison, the number of French-speakers in Canada rose by just 5% over the same period, from 6.3-million to 6.6-million. Growth of French in Ontario was negligible, going from 318,700 to 326,030.
Suzanne Beaudry, manager of the Barbizon Beach Motel in Hollywood Beach, Fla., helped boost the number of French-speakers in the state when she moved with her husband two years ago from Joliette, Que. The community is so popular among Quebecers, she said, that in the winter she barely has to speak English.
But the face of French Florida is changing. A decade ago, French was much more likely to be heard from Quebecers in resort areas such as Hollywood Beach. Motels there offer Quebec TV stations, restaurants sell poutine and Montreal newspapers are available. A tourism Web site for Hollywood Beach boasts of the town's "French flair" and "international flavor."
Now Haitian immigrants, whose French Creole is grouped with French for the purposes of the U.S. census, easily outnumber new arrivals from the north. Dr. Jedwab said that 17,000 Haitians immigrated to Florida in 2001 alone.
After Quebec, Florida and Ontario, New York is the state or province with the largest French-speaking population: 295,556. It is followed by New Brunswick at 220,505, a slight decline from 10 years earlier. Louisiana, which in 1990 had more French-speakers than New Brunswick, has seen the use of French plummet. It now has 198,784 people who speak French at home, down from 261,678 a decade earlier.
While French is on the rise in Florida and New York, it is not about to challenge Spanish as the second-most prominent language in the United States.
In Florida, 2.5-million people identify themselves as Spanish-speakers.
Dr. Jedwab said the growth of Spanish could actually improve the chances that French will also flourish.
"It may create an environment that in the medium and long run is more sympathetic to bilingualism and the presence of other languages," he said.
© Copyright 2003 National Post
They are not very nice people but most eventually go home. And, the bitch constantly. They bitch about the price of EVERYTHING. You and I see the prices go up year over year by a modest amount. The Quebecois feels not only the price increase but the effect of his currency, the Lonie or Canadian dollar tanking either further.
Many Canadians recall a time of parity, when a hundred Canadian would buy a hundred US. Their dollar as turned to garbage and a hundred Canadian will buy today only about 75 US$.
The other good news is that while the do speak French, they are forced to use English here and when they go back, they have to use American English to proove (once their tans fad) that they were here.
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