A multidisciplinary approach to studying language attitudes and language use in the Ottawa-Gatineau region




Neupané, Rozen

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This dissertation focuses on the language behavior of individuals from the Ottawa– Gatineau metropolitan region (OGR) and the ways in which it correlates with their language attitudes as expressed in social media and in person. Although attitudes are believed to be intrinsically related to behavior, there is a lack of consensus among social psychologists regarding the nature of this relationship. Furthermore, there is a paucity of work exploring the link between language attitudes (LA) and language behavior. I intend to address this gap through my dissertation. The OGR is a fertile ground for such a study. It is a largely stable bilingual region where a total of 48.5% of the population speaks English and 30.3% speaks French as their mother tongue (Statistics Canada, 2016). However, the region is not a homogenous linguistic community. It is linguistically divided by the Québec-Ontario provincial border with the largely francophone Gatineau on the Québec side and the mainly anglophone Ottawa on the Ontario side of the border. The two cities are also different in terms of language policies and language planning measures adopted by their respective municipal and provincial governments. In this study, I established language use patterns through ethnographic observations in local cafés, farmer’s markets and grocery stores and through people’s use of French and English on Twitter. Language attitudes were assessed through a language attitude questionnaire (Kircher, 2009) distributed among people in different public spaces in the OGR and through a study of tweets from individuals in the region. The analysis reveals important differences in language attitudes and language use among francophones and anglophones. We also noticed that the two official languages do not enjoy the same status and that attitudes towards Québec/Canadian French (QF/CF) are more negative than attitudes towards European French (EF) or the French language in general. Finally, we discovered that language attitudes and language use had an important influence on each other, but this relationship was dependent on other factors as well.


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