Investigating Interactions Between Languages
Interactions between speakers of different languages have played an important role in shaping the official, First Nations, Inuit and Métis languages that are spoken in Canada’s Prairies today.
While the settlers of the Maritime provinces and Ontario were primarily English-speaking, the Canadian Prairies were divided into settlements of French, Métis, German, Ukrainian, Mennonite, Hutterite and other groups. Assimilation eventually led these groups to speak English, but not before they made their mark on the English spoken in the region.
The French spoken in the Prairies is also unique. Like English, settlement and immigration play an important role, but contact with First Nations languages can also be important, for example in francophone-Métis speech. An entirely new language, known as Michif, was created in Red River Valley due to language contact between cultures. Michif, a blend of French, Plains Cree, Ojibwa and English, is now an endangered Métis language exclusive to the Canadian Prairies.
Dr. Nicole Rosen, Canada Research Chair in Language Interactions, is taking advantage of Manitoba’s diverse population to break new ground in the study of linguistic interactions that have taken place and are currently taking place between English, French and First Nations language speakers.
Rosen’s research will enhance understanding of the subtle language interactions that take place in communities that are in proximity to each other. The research could also have an impact on the linguistic and educational policies and tools that will be developed for groups such as recent immigrant and First Nations children.