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Reviewed by:
  • Langue et culture. Unité et discordance
  • Katherine Rehner (bio)
Benoît Cazabon , Langue et culture. Unité et discordance, Sudbury, Prise de parole, 2007, 294 p., 25$

Langue et culture. Unité et discordance (2007) presents a series of papers written by Benoît Cazabon from 1990-2005 treating a wide variety of [End Page 193] issues related to Francophone minorities in Canada as seen through the lens of his reflections on the language and identity of Francophones in Ontario. The expansive scope of this well-written and emotionally-charged book will appeal to those interested in minority language education, as well as to those concerned with the state of French in Canada more generally and its continued vitality more specifically.

The book is divided into two main sections. The first (Réflexion) addresses questions of identity construction and language use, while the second (Engagements) explores the social and political threats to linguistic diversity as they concern, primarily, Ontario's Francophone minorities.

The section Réflexion comprises five chapters that, according to the author, represent the most important academic contributions over the course of his career. Chapter 1 draws on the daily journal entries of students in an introduction to linguistics class writing about their experiences as members of Francophone minority communities. The author uses these student reflections to further develop his detailed and comprehensive conceptual framework of identity formation. Chapter 2 further draws on these student journals, but this time from an intercultural perspective, examining reflections on intergroup relationships, particularly within the educational context. Chapter 3 provides a reflection on the difficulties of undertaking research on minority issues from within a minority context and on the need to challenge conventional research methodologies in order to "ouvrir l'espace minoritaire" (p. 138). The final two chapters of this section reflect on the role of the Franco-Ontarian schools in helping students to overcome feelings of inferiority concerning their language and identity. Cazabon outlines the need for a pedagogical approach that encourages students to experience important cultural elements themselves and for a reconsideration of teacher education in this light.

The second section of the book presents a series of 15 short essays by the author exploring various threats to linguistic diversity within the realms of education, health, and government. These writings detail various battles fought to ensure the fulfillment of the engagements or commitments made by governing bodies concerning the linguistic rights of Franco-Ontarian minorities.

The strength of these two sections taken together is to underscore the complex and dynamic relationships between self and group identity, between language and culture, and between minority communities and the educational, governmental and other bodies that interact with them. The interdisciplinary appeal of this book for researchers, teachers, and various other community members is clearly reflected in the multidimensional nature of the issues addressed in its chapters. Thus, while the astute reader will bear in mind the potential impact on notions of identity [End Page 194] formation and language use exerted by the heightened socio-political climate in which the data were collected during the late 1980s, it is clear that these varied writings of Benoît Cazabon will have much to contribute to the on-going discussion of the place and vitality of French in Ontario.

Katherine Rehner

Katherine Rehner, Department of Language Studies, University of Toronto at Mississauga



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pp. 193-195
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