Answer to Map #14c
Geography Awareness Week 2016

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Answer: This week’s choropleth depicts the percentage of first-language speakers of French and English in the metropolitan area of Montreal, Quebec. Areas where a plurality of residents have French as a mother tongue are colored blue, while areas where a plurality of residents have English as a mother tongue are colored red. The darker the hue, the higher the percentage of the residents are first-language speakers of the corresponding language.

Not all residents of Montreal speak either French or English as a mother tongue. Montreal is home to immigrants from around the world. After French and English, the most commonly spoken languages in Montreal are Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Chinese. The only colors necessary for this map, however, are red and blue because there is no city in the Montreal metropolitan area in which a plurality of the residents are allophones (that is, native speakers of a third language). There are some maps of language demographics in Montreal that use the color green to depict areas where allophones form the plurality, but these are maps that take smaller units than we have used for our map within the city of Montreal proper.

The data for this map was taken from the website of Statistics Canada, which collects data from the 2011 Canadian Census. The darkest shade of blue refers to those cities where more than 90% of residents identify French as their mother tongue. The next darkest shades of blue refer, successively, to those cities where 70%-90% and 50%-70% of residents are first-language French speakers. The lighest shade of blue, used only for the cities of Brossard and Mont-Royal, indicate cities where only a plurality (less than 50%) of residents speak French as a mother tongue. The cities with the lighest shades of red and blue, therefore, also tend to be the cities with the highest percentages of immigrants who are native speakers of other languages.

As you can clearly see from this map, the overwhelming majority of people in the Montreal metropolitan area are native French speakers. Montreal is sometimes referred to as the world’s second most populous Francophone city, after Paris. (This claim may or may not be accurate, depending on how you measure the number of French speakers. There are over 11 million people in the metropolitan area of Kinshasa, a city where French is the language of government, education, and commerce. Many people who live in Kinshasa, however, instead speak a local language such as Lingala at home.)

Historically, English speakers who live in Montreal have been concentrated on the western part of the island of Montreal. Those English speakers have established their own municipalities, many of which have names with English rather than French etymologies. For example, the cities in the Montreal metropolitan area with the highest percentages of English speakers are Hudson (66%), Hampstead (60%), and Beaconsfield (54%).

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