Institutional bilingualism

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Institutional bilingualism refers to the fact of human institutions operating in two languages. It is usually contrasted with personal or individual bilingualism, that is the fact of a person speaking, to some degree, two languages.

Institutions can be bilingual in different ways.

Two separate administrations

The National Film Board of Canada / Office national du film du Canada (NFB/ONF), for example, is bilingual in that it has a branch run by an for anglophones and another one run by and for francophones. These branches are (or at least used to be) practically independent from each other. This theoretically allows for the full expression of each language community's worldview. Indeed, a language community's worldview can only be freely expressed if all steps of its discourse production are done in the community's language and only in that language if desired. Since the mission of the NFB/ONF is cultural, there could not have been any other way to operate.

A single administration

Some institutions are bilingual in that the service they offer is available to the intended public in English and French, but the organizations themselves operate under a single administration. These institutions are usually run from Ottawa, in English, and a French translation is made down the line to reach out francophones.

Some of these institutions are only nominally bilingual, for they are run by and for anglophones, but accept counsel from francophones in order to better transmit the national thought of English Canada to francophones. Their mission is national unity. In these institutions, the French language is merely an interface for the propagation of English Canada's worldview. Poorly translated documents is too often the result of such a form of organization. Sometimes, the French translation itself is irreproachable, but the ideas expressed in the translated documents are utterly alien to francophones' culture (that of the Quebec nation or the Acadian nation).

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