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Earth to anglos: This is Quebec. Bus drivers speak French

BY NICHOLAS ROBINSON, THE GAZETTE JANUARY 7, 2014

 

I’m an expat American whose family transferred here (my father worked for ICAO) in 1976.

 

In 1988, after having gone to college and graduated in California, I moved to Japan and spent five years there, teaching English.

 

When I returned, my parents had relocated to California, but left their condo here unrented and unoccupied. Naturally, I chose to resettle here instead of California, and I’ve been here ever since.

 

I spoke French before I came to Montreal, having learned it in francophone African countries, so I had no problems getting around Montreal. Except in my lengthy absence, Bill 101 had been passed, and many anglos were hightailing it out on the 401. It was strange coming back to a Montreal that had language issues; I’d never had the Eaton-fat-lady experience while I had been here in the 1970s and had never had any problems back then.

 

And at first, actually, for over a decade, I resented the ridiculous sign law that made English two-thirds smaller than French on signs, plus all the “tongue-trooper” shenanigans over the years.

 

But then my mind started changing, and today I’m pretty much the polar opposite to what I was in 1994.

 

I now teach Japanese to individuals in Montreal, having enthusiastically learned it from scratch while in Japan. Most of my students are francophone, but we usually end up having the class with a mixture of all three languages.

 

Now when I hear about people “not getting service” in English in such institutions as hospitals, or not being responded to in English by bus drivers, my stance is: tough luck. When I moved to Japan, I quickly discovered that almost nobody spoke English, and that in order to function, I would have to learn Japanese — and fast, which I did.

 

And now I feel maybe Bill 101 should have gone farther and made all signs only in French. After all, we are living in a French-speaking province that just happens to be in the middle of a vast country called Canada.

 

Any anglos who have been here for any length of time — over a year or so — should at least be able to carry out basic living functions in French and learn how to read signs in French. The wheedle-factor here is enormous. To my mind, the French speakers of Quebec have been incredibly tolerant of the anglophone “community,” and a vast swath of them have gone to the immense trouble of learning English — when they don’t have to at all.

 

Yet they do, happily and willingly and without a single murmur of protest. Why then, can’t the so-called “anglophone community,” knowingly residing in a province that has every right in the world to make everything in French, not do a better job of learning French?

 

Earth to anglos: this is Quebec. In Quebec most people speak French. Bus drivers have every right in the world to respond to you in French, even when you speak to them in English.

 

And my suggestion to these besieged individuals is simply: learn how to speak French. There are literally hundreds of places where you can learn it absolutely free.

 

Or take some of my classes and move to Japan, where there is a severe shortage of English teachers; I promise there are no French speakers there to hound you.

 

Nicholas Robinson teaches Japanese in Montreal.

 

© Copyright © The Montreal Gazette

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On passe notre temps à constater la merde brassée par quelques frufrus des deux côtés. Dommage. Most people are living in peace using 2 languages in or even 3 in the same phrases. Which is great. Same thing with the infamous signes ostentatoires. We basically don't have any problems in Montreal. On se fait écoeurer par quelques paranos en région ou dans le 450 éloigné.:mad:

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What amuses me, is if a French-speaking Quebecer leaves Quebec and goes to an airport or travels by plane and does not get served in French (within Canada only) they can sue for not having someone answer them in French, seeing Canada (on a Federal level you should be allowed to get both languages). Yet here in Quebec, we love the double standards. You must speak French and if you don't, we will do everything to make your life a living hell.

 

I can't wait for this province to start public executions of people who do not speak the same language (i.e French) or do not conform to the "values charter". I know it is extreme, but it is a small possibility for that to happen.

 

Let them small minded followers enjoy only one language, either French or English or whichever one they only know (if they moved here from another country). I am happy that we try to have an open society with two languages or more. Why do we keep trying to make ourselves more insular just like Norway or Japan. What makes them so much better than us?

 

Anyways for Nicolas, I am happy that he is in Japan and doing what he needs to get by. I do understand what he means by the whole needed to learn Japanese. What do you expect when you live in a country full of Japanese speaking people. On Wikipedia it shows you the break down by country of who visits there: USA, Australia, Canada and the UK (not in that order) makes up 14.8% of the visitors per year of almost the 8.4 million visitors in 2012. Even with those amounts of probably English speaking tourists, it isn't enough for them to change their signage. The majority come from Korea and China, which is 59%. Even for them they do not change the signage. Which is understandable, seeing you have a population of over 125 million people, why the hell would you want to change the signage for 6% (total amount of visitors compared to the local population). I still haven't found the amount of visitors that come to Quebec each year compared to the amount of Quebecers.

 

Quebec is a province, not a country as of yet and probably wont be one for another 20-50 years. So when that happens everything can be French or whatever.

 

As for right now, lets stick with the bilingualism that doesn't seem to work at all here. More languages we know, the better.

Edited by jesseps
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I can't wait for this province to start public executions of people who do not speak the same language (i.e French) or do not conform to the "values charter". I know it is extreme, but it is a small possibility for that to happen..

 

Okaaaay... speechless.:ziplip:

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What amuses me, is if a French-speaking Quebecer leaves Quebec and goes to an airport or travels by plane and does not get served in French (within Canada only) they can sue for not having someone answer them in French, seeing Canada (on a Federal level you should be allowed to get both languages). Yet here in Quebec, we love the double standards. You must speak French and if you don't, we will do everything to make your life a living hell.

 

 

Not sure what you mean by double-standard.

 

You're referring to federal bilingual positions. In Montréal, anglophones are pretty well assured of getting served in English at EVERY single federal department or office, not just at the airport. It's pretty safe to say this is not the case for francophones living in or visiting other cities outiside of the province. I would tend to call that a double-standard.

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Jesseps, I think you've got it wrong. IluvMTl has it right. In montreal, you are assured of being served in english at any federal dept. or office, whereas in the ROC, you don't have the garantee of being served in french in those same federal departments or offices. "Officially" you should be able to be served in french in a federal dept or office across the country, but you know just as well as I do that THAT is only a pipe dream.

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Not sure what you mean by double-standard.

 

You're referring to federal bilingual positions. In Montréal, anglophones are pretty well assured of getting served in English at EVERY single federal department or office, not just at the airport. It's pretty safe to say this is not the case for francophones living in or visiting other cities outiside of the province. I would tend to call that a double-standard.

 

Même pas capable d'avoir un service 100% en français à l'aéroport d'Ottawa (certains le parle, d'autre non), un aéroport fréquenté par un grand nombre de québécois et de franco-ontariens... et aussi situé dans la capitale du Canada qui n'est pas officiellement billingue btw.

Edited by vanatox
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Tu ne peux pas comparer la situation à celle de la France ou autre pays d'Europe. Chaque pays a une langue différente qui n'est pas l'anglais. Près du tier des Canadiens parlent le français.

 

Close to 10 million Canadians said they can speak French

http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/as-sa/98-314-x/98-314-x2011003_1-eng.cfm

 

C'est l'équivalent de la CMA population de Toronto+Montréal.

 

''Outside Quebec, more people reported French as their mother tongue''

Edited by vivreenrégion
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The issue is Quebec is surrounded for 350+million anglo speaking population. The importance and need of english in Canada and so much more important than french.

 

You're entitled to your opinion, but no need to belittle other languages. You can't assume that what you consider a priority, or the most important factor, is shared by all. For a lot of people, safe to say, the majority in this province, preserving a language and culture is a top priority.

Edited by IluvMTL
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