AngryFrenchGuy

Making a Complaint to the OQLF for (and because of) Idiots

with 250 comments

As part of my mission to demystify the strange and scary place called Québec, today, boys and girls, I’m going to initiate you to the most vile and hateful ritual that we separatists have been known to partake in. Grab your garlic and keep one browser window on justin.ca, we’re going deep into the bowels of evil French Brotherhood. For you, the inquisitive readers of AngryFrenchGuy, I will renounce the anonymous protection bestowed on me by my brethren and take you through my very first complaint to the Ordre de la Langue Française du Québec.

…or Office de la Langue Française. Whatever.

Growing up in NDG-by-the-Décarie, I’ve always been keenly aware of the difficulty a Francophone can have in obtaining service in French in some parts of Montreal. That said, on the whole, most people were in good faith and you just avoided the stores run by the others. Things had this way of working themselves out.

I had never made a complaint to the OQLF and never expected that would be something I would do. I’ve never been a strong supporter of defending French through legislation – except when it comes to the language of education – and I have always prefered to let my money do the activism.

I came back to Montreal after spending a few years living mainly in Ontario and the contrast hit me in the face like like a STM bus rear-view mirror. Whereas shopkeepers in Toronto were friendly helpful people who seemed to value the service aspect of their profession, in Downtown Montreal I was confronted with aggressive and resentful assholes who made no attempts to hide their sighs of exasperation when I asked to be served in French. Worse, the random NDG dinosaurs who would simply refuse to serve you in French were franchising all the way east on Saint-Denis and beyond.

It was while I was struggling with this increasing frustration and disgust that I came across the nice people at Boffey Auto Sales.

I was looking for a car on the Internet and found one I liked on boffeyautosales.com. I looked for the phone number on the page and I noticed it was all in English. I looked for a Français button, or something. There was none.

I decided to send the company an email. I’m not thinking of bill 101 or of the OQLF at this point. I’m talking about the good old fashioned free market. I sent the shopkeeper my grievance and hoped this would eventually influence him to change his approach. Here’s the copy/paste of my missive:

Hi

I was going to visit your business to look for my next vehicle but a quick visit to your website made me understand you are not interested in my business.

Hint: Only 17% of Montrealers have english as their mother tongue. Maybe some service in the language the est of us speak would help sales!

Meilleure chance la prochaine fois.

Georges

A bit of a wise-ass, but nevertheless polite.

Now here is the response I got from the good people at Boffey:

Hi George, (your name with the correct spelling!)

You seem to be able to communicate quite well in english. It really is too bad that you are so ignorant that you would let language stand in the way of getting a great deal!

Most of the traffic our website sees is from ebay, which you are probably aware, is in english. We advertise on http://www.lespac.com in the language you prefer, and are fluent in both english and french. We have a large french speaking customer base who are interested in getting a deal, not in bickering over language.

The cost to put together the website you see was 2,300$. It seems expensive, but vehicles can be uploaded, and listings modified by a child it is so simple. It would have cost an additional 1,000$ to have it translated. Seeing as most of our online business is conducted in the 9 other provinces that make up our COUNTRY, we decided to save a few dollars. To date you are the only one who has been insulted.

I am actually happy that you made the decision to avoid our lot. Dealing with pigheaded fools such as yourself rarely leads to any profitable business.

Be sure to take a trip on by Encan Direct H. Gregoire, MTL Autoprix or Corporatif Renaud, just to name a few, where you will be catered to in the language of your choice, and will also pay the price for it!!

Hint: The mother tongue of 88% of CANADIANS is english.

Bonne Chance!

Ian Weir
Boffeyautosal

That’s the day I made my first complaint to the OQLF.

Easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Clicked here: www.olf.gouv.qc.ca/francisation/respect/plainte.html, filled the form in 5 minutes and emailed it back. Got a message from the OQLF a week later saying they’d received my complaint. That’s the last I’ve ever heard of it.

As the website is still only in English even though the courts have ruled that ecommerce is absolutely within the OQLF’s jurisdiction, I can only guess that my complaint is one of the 1000’s that the Imperial Guardians of the Language just delete every year.

And you know what? At the end of the day I’d rather they go after Best Buy and Coach Canada than a poor chump selling used cars on ebay.

In fact, I actually could’ve accepted Mr. Weir’s explanation that the website is only for business outside Québec, had he told me politely. But that day, all I could think was that either he was going to have pay 1000$ to translate his website or he was going to have to pay a 1000$ fine. Busted.

Perhaps this is an illustration of how the system makes it to easy for people to make impulsive complaints about trivial problems.

On the the other hand, it is also a good example of how many business people bring problems upon themselves by being first-class twits.

Re-reading that email a year later, I feel I just might file a second complaint right now…

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 31, 2008 at 1:39 pm

250 Responses

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  1. AFG: “The problem with you, Rory, is that you refuse to take our grievances seriously on the grounds that what we really want is a great big nation of homogenous patriots like Bernard Landry.

    It’s a cop-out. It’s an excuse to preserve the status quo which is, at the end of the day, quite advantageous to Anglophones.

    You’ve been coming here for months discussing these issues with smart, articulate and open-minded angloPHILES like Acajack, Raman, Québécois Séparatiste, Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote, Éric Grenier and the others I forget, yet you still insist on depicting every unhappy Francophone as a crypto-fascist with conspiratorial plans of making the English langauge illegal…”

    No sir. I take your grievences very seriously. It’s just that in some cases, whenever someone tries to point out a fallacy in an otherwise well thought out idea, they are met with anecdotal evidence of language discrimination followed by accusations of arrogance, ignorance and a sense of supremacy for not accepting that very same anecdote as fact.

    Yet, when I qualify my statements (as I almost always do) with things like “that isn’t to say that all Quebecers are like that” or ” there is a certain segment of the population that…”, I’m generalizing.

    When I make spceific public figures and organizations the target of my argument, rather than hold up a random used car salesman’s attitude as indicative of an entire population, I’m trying to lump all francophones together. The hypocrisy that allows you to skip right over Raman’s post and accuse me of generalizing, even when I made reference to the level of genralization being tolerated in the the quote you cited is probably obvious to most people reading this blog.

    You’re ability to accept as gospel anything said in support of your argument, while dismissing anything said against your argument as not only false, but in itself an act of aggression is your problem, since we’re getting personal.

    The conclusions you made about me above are entirely the result of your own biased point of view. If you want to take my criticism of Les Jeunes Patriotes as a statement about all Quebecois, then that is the result of your own misinterpretation. If I want to make a sweeping statement, I won’t be too shy to do so.

    RoryBellows

    September 3, 2008 at 6:20 pm

  2. Raman,

    I’ll keep it short. No, I wouldn’t move to Burma and refuse to speak Burmese. It’s not really a very good analogy though, since I didn’t emigrate to Quebec and I do speak french. But, you were pissed off, so it wasn’t your best work. It happens, as evidenced in my last few posts.

    RoryBellows

    September 3, 2008 at 6:23 pm

  3. There. Done. Anyone else wanna call me a language supremacist? Make it quick, I have shit to do.

    RoryBellows

    September 3, 2008 at 6:24 pm

  4. “Interesting you should allude to the book “Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin. Though the situation he was describing was a much, much, much greater injustice than not being served in French in Montreal ever could be, he too set out to debunk a widely-held view of his era: that black people weren’t really victims of discrimination. At that time in the U.S., many, many people (if not a significant majority of whites at least) believed that the civil rights movement was a big brouhaha for nothing, and that the people behind it were just a bunch of hotheads without any truly legitimate gripes”

    I actually wasn’t refering to Black Like Me, although I have read it. I guess if she went out and tried to get service as a francophone and reported on the results, it wouldn’t seem so sinister to me.

    In the Murchison case, she wasn’t pretending to be the victim, but rather the villain, so to speak. Something about that just turned me off. I dunno, I like my journalism to be unbiased. When I read a few months later about how the same girl decided to go out on Saint Jean “disguised” as a unilingual anglophone and approach people on the street to ask what this big french party was all about, I guess it further re-enforced my view that she seems have to have some kind of beef with english-speakers.

    “I see your point, but keep in mind that are many people in Quebec with names like Liza Frulla, Maka Kotto, Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Bernard Assiniwi, Maria Mourani, etc. who are also full-fledged francophones and may also be frustrated by the “French?!?!? WTF?!?!” attitude”

    Sure. My interpretation of “minority” was purely along linguistic lines.

    “Not all perhaps, but certainly many of these kids will be walking around Montreal as adults very soon and wondering why, if they and their parents who came from Poland, El Salvador or Indonesia, could adapt and learn French after landing in Montreal in, say, 1989, why Mr. Weir and his ilk haven’t been able to adapt in how many generations?”

    But Mr. Weir and co. in many cases have adapted. The question is to what degree. If this Weir fella speaks perfect french, but is still a dick, then that’s all he is, a dick. If his french is lacking, then he’s a whole bunch of other things.

    He shouldn’t be viewed in terms of his mother tongue, or the length of his residence here. I see no reason why anyone ought to feel justified in questioning the broken-french speaking Weir along those lines.

    I’ve brought this point up many times, but I gotta do it again. You can speak a second language and still be respectful of all your neighbors. It doesn’t require full assimilation. What, IMO, has potentially damaging consequences is when we allow ourselves to associate someone’s less admiral qualities with elements of their identity, in this case language.

    RoryBellows

    September 3, 2008 at 6:52 pm

  5. Sorry Acajack, I left something out.

    For every Indonesian, Pole or El Salvadoran who learns french, there are a bunch of native anglos who are perfectly comfortable using the language. For every unilingual Weir, there are a bunch of immigrants from places like India, Pakistan, Jamaica etc. who don’t speak a word of french.

    So why then would the collecvtive french speaking immigrant class look down on “anglophones” in any way. I shouldn’t have to answer for Weir any more than the Indonesian should have to for the Jamaican?

    RoryBellows

    September 3, 2008 at 7:01 pm

  6. “In the Murchison case, she wasn’t pretending to be the victim, but rather the villain, so to speak. Something about that just turned me off. I dunno, I like my journalism to be unbiased. When I read a few months later about how the same girl decided to go out on Saint Jean “disguised” as a unilingual anglophone and approach people on the street to ask what this big french party was all about, I guess it further re-enforced my view that she seems have to have some kind of beef with english-speakers.”

    I seem to recall Murchison saying in an interview that her father was actually an anglo from Ontario and that the family had lived in Ontario for some time. Her mother is francophone and she grew up speaking both languages at home.

    Of course, this double upbringing doesn’t prevent her from taking sides in the language debate (we’ve all seen this happen before), and I also seem to recall her saying that she had come to the conclusion that francophones often got the short end of the stick in Quebec, and in Montreal in particular, that French was in danger, etc. The usual stuff.

    Acajack

    September 3, 2008 at 7:15 pm

  7. “So why then would the collecvtive french speaking immigrant class look down on “anglophones” in any way.”

    But do they really look down on anglophones? We’ve discussed this before here and I did say that some immigrants might look down on those long-established anglos who don’t speak French, but I can’t confirm that it’s a blanket thing (all anglos tarred with the same brush) or an attitude-related or behaviourally-related judgement they make.

    BTW, you are right that AFG’s used car salesman could in fact be super bilingual for all we know. We just assume that he isn’t because of all the experiences we’ve had with people like him, I guess. If crap like this was more exceptional than run-of-the-mill, then maybe people would just laugh about it.

    Everyone has different experiences. As a francophone living outside Quebec for the first three quarters of my life, I was regularly told by people (including some pushover francophones) that if I wanted French, I should move to Quebec. After a while, I concluded that that was pretty good advice and that’s exactly what I did.

    So I guess you can appreciate how I feel when I get brushed off with a “French?!! WTF?!?” in Quebec. (This blasted thing’s almost a leitmotiv in this discussion…)

    Acajack

    September 3, 2008 at 7:26 pm

  8. To ABP,

    One hint: Ben & Jerry’s on Monkland (some nights). Try it. Of course, on free cone day you get to speak to someone who can at least understand what the french bigot is saying (yes it’s me).

    I’d go to Nancy for better ice cream, but it closes too soon, or I’d go to that delicious new frozen yogurts place on Sherbrooke (where they can speak french, how impressive)… But what if I want a scoop of fat?

    No love for the sweet-tooth french bigot.

    Jonathan

    September 3, 2008 at 9:39 pm

  9. Yeah, funny how Ben & Jerry’s Vermont image was all about good New England Neo-Hippie Free Spirit and Open-mindedness and yet, all their Montreal stores operate as if they were still in the USA and make no effort to “accomodate” those of us who might speak another language…

    angryfrenchguy

    September 3, 2008 at 10:06 pm

  10. RoryBellows: “The specific point I was addressing was that of the resident of, say, Montreal West, who also happens to be a Canadian citizen and yet can legitimately be seen as arrogant (and worse, apparantly, after reading your post) simply for speaking the language that happens to be that of the majority of his immediate neighbors and of the country to which he belongs.”

    Your specific point is not even realistic. Language was never about a single person and his “right to speak”. Obviously, there is no law in Quebec preventing anyone, Canadian citizen or other, to open his or her mouth an utter words in any language. But speaking, opening a dialogue, tends to imply someone understanding on the other end. Within society, the possibility “to be understood” sets the main parameters of the usefulness of languages, and the liberty people enjoy to really make use of them in their lives.

    To walk around and address everyone in English, to put the burden of being bilingual on francophones and allophones, that is the abuse of power anglophones are at liberty to partake in inside Quebec, if they are unconscious and/or immoral. When they do that, they perpetuate the unjust state of affairs we have all inherited from the past.

    The moral thing to do (and many people, unfortunately not the majority, understand this perfectly) is to become bilingual and generally speak French when addressing people you do not know but presume to be your own Quebec compatriots. That would be the bare minimum, that would be behaving like all non-anglophones tend to behave in Ontario for example, without ever complaining that they are victims of a great injustice (because they are not.)

    But the idea that a group of people, other than anglophones, could be fully at home somewhere in Canada does not seem to make it into the minds of the majority of anglophone Canadians, who take the liberties they enjoy for granted. They expect to be able to behave as a linguistic majority anywhere inside Canada, however infinitely small a group they may constitute locally, as if that didn’t necessary mean no other linguistic group could possible do the same, but through confrontation with them.

    RoryBellows: “Just how is it contradictory?”

    You obviously know the answer, but since you want me to spit it out: the contradiction is to claim it right for individuals, as Canadians, to speak English to anyone anywhere because they are in Canada, a society in the majority English-speaking, but when people, following the exact same reasoning, claim the right to speak French to anyone anywhere because they are in Quebec, a society in the majority French-speaking, then it is wrong, it is ethnic nationalism or some other scarecrow.

    RoryBellows: “If you were expecting a long drawn out response to your accusations, sorry, I just don’t have it in me, not when you can’t even bother to read my comments in full.”

    “your accusations”. Here comes the usual victimization discourse, the silly idea that somehow francophone Quebecers would be accusing the current generation of anglophones in Quebec and the ROC for the violation of their human rights perpetrated and passed down to them by previous generations.

    The language issue is a social question, to be resolved democratically by assuming every person and every group wish to undo the damage caused in the past and are willing to adapt a little for the greater good of all.

    To understand how language rights are mostly a matter of collective rights and not of the individual “right to choose” (a notion that comes from consumerism and has nothing to do with liberty and justice), here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

    Did you chose your native language? Was there ever a human being who enjoyed the freedom to choose his native language?

    Of course not. Most of the time, a person’s native language is chosen by the parents, or tutors, and that choice the parents make is in turn conditioned by various social factors.

    And the freedom to choose that the language which your parents taught you, and in which you were brought up, be a language of schooling in your neighbourhood?

    And the freedom to choose that this language in which you first experienced being a human being, a social being, be a language that will give you a promising career (assuming you stay in school)?

    I’ll let you figure it out.

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    September 4, 2008 at 10:08 am

  11. AFG, tyou’re better than this.

    May I suggest that you consider the following: the right to be disrespectful of the majority language and those that speak it is far a more precious freedom than the non-existant right to be served in the majority language in a commercial establishment that you can decide not to patronize if you don’t like their service.

    Running to the authorities to “tell” on those who have violated a law that should not exist in the first place is not something to be proud of: http://tinyurl.com/55svoy

    Tony Kondaks

    September 4, 2008 at 10:58 am

  12. Mathieu,

    Would you prefer that I respond, or the hypothetical angryphone you seem to be addressing in your post?

    RoryBellows

    September 4, 2008 at 3:51 pm

  13. Rory : « I’ll keep it short. No, I wouldn’t move to Burma and refuse to speak Burmese. It’s not really a very good analogy though, since I didn’t emigrate to Quebec and I do speak french. But, you were pissed off, so it wasn’t your best work. It happens, as evidenced in my last few posts. »

    And I’ll keep it very long. (Insomnia last night, so I just wrote away…)
    Sorry for testing your patience with the length of my answer.


    First, let me clear some misunderstandings :

    I did remember that you speak French. The “you” in my post was not to be taken personally. I wrote my analogy to demonstrate that your line of arguing, when used by a Weir, would reveal its incredibly obnoxious nature if it were used anywhere other than Quebec. On the opposite, whenever a French-speaking Québécois is met with a «Speak English like everybody else, buddy!» attitude, if we grumble, it is us who get to be called arrogant assholes : «Because we’re in CANADA, and WE’re the minority !»

    I also bit my fingers after posting that comment because, to make the example more relevant to our case, I should have included possible children of yours in Burma : Children whom you wouldn’t teach to learn Burmese, but rather teach to walk around expecting everybody to learn English to cater to them as well.
    (Again, “you” not meaning you personally, but to illustrate how I believe your reasoning is faulty.)

    And as far as being pissed off, yes I was. -Because you tried to paint me, and all nationalists, as fascists based on a few expressions I used such as “their towns”…


    Now…

    Rory, otherwise very smart and reasonable folks like you (and I do mean it) don’t seem able to put themselves in our shoes at all when the question of linguistic tensions arises.
    Confronted with our grievances, and the fact that they don’t seem to disappear over generations, you guys would rather think that there is some profound defect in our culture that makes us irrationally hate the Anglos and want to subjugate them : To want to put them back in their place.

    In my experience the fact is very few anglos, even well-meaning ones, make the effort to perceive Canada the way a French Québécois can.

    Yes indeed, just about every Québécois caries scores of personal anecdotes about having to accommodate English-speaking residents : A good chunk of whom displaying the attitude that Weir exposed. I could tell you loads and loads or personal stories, related to work, shopping, leisures, social life, etc. Granted, it usually happens with less open contempt than with Weir, usually more in a passive-aggressive manner, but it is constant.
    Unless you live at the bottom of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (and even there…), not a week will go by when you are not told, or made to feel, that you should adapt : Adapt to people who simply pay themselves the luxury of not learning the democratic majority’s language. A situation which doesn’t arise anywhere else in the World, where minorities would never dream of constantly imposing that kind of burden on their mother society.
    (And don’t go imply that I’m talking about the «Father land» here… You know what I mean.)

    You know, before you paint me and others here as small-minded xenophobes, consider this : I myself worked in B-C and Alberta for 3 years. I then worked in Thailand for 5 years. And I also stayed a while in Laos. Now guess what : I’ve learned English, Thai and Laotian.
    -I don’t think I’m especially gifted for language learning : I made efforts. I simply figured that if I asked everyone in Western Canada to learn French for me, «Because it’s an official language», I would have looked like an asshole. Same thing in Thailand, even though the language barrier was much higher. It seemed obvious that I had to adapt, and not expect 70 million Thais to make an effort to accommodate me.

    The nice thing about it is that, in return, people in Asia often confided how they appreciated that I was trying to learn their language and get to know their culture, their customs, etc. This as opposed to other expatriates (usually English-speaking, btw) who were seen by them like perpetual tourists, like flies on the wall.
    -You know, just like Anglos insisting on speaking only English are perceived here !

    [And just as Anglos who make an effort at integrating will quickly be considered “in the family” by Francophones, a few times Thai people told me they thought I must had been a Thai in a previous incarnation... You reap what you sow.]

    Surely, you’ll find people who won’t integrate everywhere. But there is a difference here, being that Anglos, either old or newer stock, have a few more cards up their deck to comfort them in their neglect :
    -«Hey, we’re in CANADA buddy! YOU’re the idiot for not speaking English». Or :
    -«Hey, we all know Québécois are fascists, especially nationalists like you. So who needs to take your complaints seriously ?»

    Over in Thailand, that wouldn’t have flown, and those folks who chose not to learn Thai accepted that they were limiting themselves socially and job-wise. They didn’t expect all the doors to remain opened for them regardless of their own self-imposed handicap. -They didn’t open up rice shops expecting everybody to learn English to feed themselves.
    And if they’d done so, people would have been a lot more aggressive in reminding them where they were.

    My point is our reactions are normal, and Québécois are no more racist or angry for feeling that way than the Thais would be. Everywhere a minority unilaterally imposes on a majority to adapt to their ways, you’ll get that kind of reaction.
    Just exactly as if you moved into a classical music-loving family and decided to play heavy rock in the living room. -We know you also pay rent for this house. We just ask that you keep the rock to your room and don’t change the station when everybody’s trying to listen to Mozart : No matter how much you figure that classical music is boring.

    (I know : I have to work on my analogies…)


    Now you’ll admit that most encounters with “French?!! WTF?!?” (t.m. Acajack) remain peaceful : At parties, on the street, in bars and so on. Though be sure that they do generate a good amount of comments afterwards («What, she’s been here 10 years and she can’t speak French yet ?!»)

    -But (and this is important) when we encounter it while looking for work, trying to buy clothes or groceries — when trying to function normally inside our proximate society — don’t be so shocked that we actually react. Especially not when it is doubled with that very aggressive attitude, like Weir’s, that still too many make a point to display.

    Just imagine if the Chinese, Indian, Italian speakers, etc. all started to do the same ? How would this society function ?
    Now why would only Anglos have this special privilege ?..


    Finally, a point made by many about language laws :
    They did help redress the situation from a time when (here comes another anecdote), in 1969, my father was told in a Montreal engineering firm : «Sorry, we don’t hire French-Canadians». Granted, things have evolved since then, though not quite due to benevolence on the Anglo minority’s part… Or the laws wouldn’t have been needed in the first place.
    But another positive point about them is they actually helped reduce social tensions, contrary to what detractors now claim. -Nowadays, when someone refuses me a service in French, I don’t have to start yelling in the store, assault them, organize a boycott or organize a protest. Now I have a legal resort, based on a clear law, and which will be addressed according to principles of justice.

    Keep calling these laws fascist if you will. But most of us wouldn’t want to go back to the situation that existed before, where a lot more tensions arose and had to be dealt with by citizens themselves.


    Again, sorry for being so lengthy.

    Raman

    September 4, 2008 at 6:02 pm

  14. Raman writes: “Adapt to people who simply pay themselves the luxury of not learning the democratic majority’s language.”

    Raman, you have a profound misunderstanding of what freedom is.

    The so-called “democratic majority” has no goddamn right to tell me or anyone else what language to speak. And I weep for you to have gotten to the point in your life where you believe that the majority has the right to impose such group-think.

    Better to be brought up in the forest by wolves than in the education system that has been responsible for making you think the way you do.

    Tony Kondaks

    September 4, 2008 at 8:47 pm

  15. A couple of thoughts, Raman.

    I certainly don’t think that Quebec’s language laws are facist in any way. In fact if you were to go back and read through my posts (I’m not suggesting you should) I don’t think you’d find anything to contradict that. What I have always tried to do is to pinpoint those consequences of a law that could be detrimental (often to anglophones, sometimes to Quebecers as a whole, whatever).

    And it’s not that I try to block out the anecdotal instances of injustice that you or others bring up. They can be an important tool in identifying a potential problem, but they should only be a jumping off point, not the closing arguments in somebody’s case. Believe me, I have plenty of anecdotes of my own, many of which could lead me to devellop a biased vew of francophones, nationalists, sovereignists etc. But it wouldn’t be good for me, and it certainly wouln’t be helpful when employed as arguments in an open discussion.

    But still, if I come across as dismissive of your concerns, it’s only because I know that whatever your grievences are, at the end of the day, they aren’t as serious as we all take them. I know (as you do) that it is possible to live in a place where we sometimes have to be accomodating, where we sometimes feel frustrated and yet we can still prosper.

    It is precisely because I have to speak french in 90% of the stores I shop in and that I have to speak french with most of my co-workers for 8 hours everyday that I fail to see the gravity of the situation of someone who has to do the same 10 or 20 or 50% of the time. This is where someone is supposed to remind me that we are in Quebec, and that in Quebec it happens in French. But they’d be missing my point, which is that when I come home at night, I don’t feel victimized. I don’t feel like a second-class citizen (at least not for that reason). And it isn’t because I live on the same land mass as Arizona, Minnesota or Saskatchewan. That has no bearing on my day to day life.

    Anyways, I don’t think I have anything else worth contributing to this blog. *cue the “when were you planning on begining to contribute something” coments* I’m tired of feeling compelled to tug as hard as I can on my end of the rope when the piece of land in middle looks so damn green and fertile.

    Peace.

    RoryBellows

    September 4, 2008 at 9:12 pm

  16. AFG, for once I can agree with you entirely. It’d be great if that douchebag had to pay a fat fucking fine for his sheer stupidity and ignorance. But let’s face it, the government doesn’t actually give much of a crap about your right to be served in French, and I think deep inside you know it too. That is why I can’t understand why you have such faith in these bastards, goin’ on about the “credible politicians” that we’re so lucky to have here in Quebec. Come on, man…

    VM

    September 4, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  17. Regarding Tony’s comments: one cannot argue with someone on this subject who doesn’t give a fuck whether or not the French language survives and then flourishes in North America.

    His attitude is such that since English as conquered the world, accept it and deal with it.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 5, 2008 at 9:49 am

  18. Sorry, my responses to Thomas and others aren’t posting.

    Tony Kondaks

    September 5, 2008 at 10:01 am

  19. (I’m going to try and post under a different name and email and see if that works)

    Thomas writes: “one cannot argue with someone on this subject who doesn’t give a fuck whether or not the French language survives and then flourishes in North America.”

    Ask yourself, Thomas, why YOU care for one language more than any of the other 2,000 languages. Is it that French is a White, European language? Are you not aware that “language” is a prohibite base of discrimination under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms? Why are you so prejudicial, Thomas, against the non-White languages that are truly in peril?

    French will flourish if individual people decide to speak it…and if it does, God Bless them, that’s their business. In the meantime I will give neither more or less than a fuck for French than any other language.

    Thomas writes: “(Tony’s) attitude is such that since English as conquered the world, accept it and deal with it.”

    My attitude is that English is the universal language of commerce and if you want to better your chances at economic prospects in the world it is better to learn English than some folk language, such as French. That’s just common sense.

    Now, if you move to France or Africa where French prevails (you see, French is one of the most successful colonial, imperialistic languages on the planet and that’s why it’s spoken so much in Africa) then, yes, it would be a good idea to learn French.

    But that’s your free choice.

    T.K.

    September 5, 2008 at 10:13 am

  20. “Now you’ll admit that most encounters with “French?!! WTF?!?” (t.m. Acajack) remain peaceful”

    Actually, I think “French?!? WTF?!?” should be copyrighted to Mr. Nordlum. I think he first brought it up in reference to his dealings with someone at Concordia University.

    Acajack

    September 5, 2008 at 10:31 am

  21. “French will flourish if individual people decide to speak it…and if it does, God Bless them, that’s their business. In the meantime I will give neither more or less than a fuck for French than any other language.”

    This would be fine if the world’s countries were all “free language markets”. But the reality is that every single “national” language in the world is propped up and protected by levels of government, and even powerful buy-in from corporate America, corporate France, corporate Serbia, etc.

    The real world isn’t the free-wheeling Tower of Babel Mr. Kondaks describes. Sure, some consideration is given to non-dominant languages in many, many places in the world, but in most cases it’s either a temporary, practical application to give a selected population time to get up to speed in the desired common language (you usually see this for immigrant languages) or it’s the result of a collective guilt trip that a language was badly beaten into submission, so they allow it to modestly come back in a cutesy, folksy way once it’s no longer a legitimate threat to the dominance of the desired language (Breton in Brittany, Welsh in Wales, French on the Canadian Prairies).

    Acajack

    September 5, 2008 at 10:41 am

  22. “Ask yourself, Thomas, why YOU care for one language more than any of the other 2,000 languages. Is it that French is a White, European language? Are you not aware that “language” is a prohibite base of discrimination under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms? Why are you so prejudicial, Thomas, against the non-White languages that are truly in peril?”

    This is grossly unfair to Mr. Nordlum. He has actually figured you out: you use dying aboriginal languages to bash on French because you know that they pose no threat to your domination, whereas French does.

    If Cree or Navajo were reasonably vibrant and pervasive (and hence at threat to English hegemony) in a large area of North America, you’d probably be bashing on them as well.

    Out of curiosity, what’s your view on the rights of Spanish speakers in Arizona? Aren’t they about twice as numerous (in percentage terms) as Anglo-Quebecers?

    Acajack

    September 5, 2008 at 10:45 am

  23. Acajack: French does not pose a threat to “my” domination.

    Discriminatory language legislation that foists a folk language upon me and other individuals and interferes with both my free speech and freedom of association does.

    This is insanity…and at the risk of repeating myself ad infinitum, I’ll say it again: French in Quebec (and, yes, to a lesser degree English) gets a natural advantage over all other languages because of its official status: French is the official language of schools, courts, institutions, parliament, etc. For that reason and that reason alone, French should be at the bottom of the list of the 300+ languages spoken within the borders of Quebec when it comes to legislating “help” for any given language.

    To give French preference over, say, Abenakai — which Bill 101 does — is totally discriminatory and, yes, racist. French has over 6,000,000 speakers in Quebec. Abenakai has — I dunno — 2,000? 1,000?

    Legislating for one group over another is totally and completely unacceptable in free and democratic societies. That is why I am insistant that Quebec separate and have the protection for French that the boundaries of an independent nation will give it. Only then, it seems, will Quebec feel comfortable repealing Bill 101…and if that is what it takes then I say: goodbye Canada.

    T.K.

    September 5, 2008 at 11:05 am

  24. Acajack asks: “Out of curiosity, what’s your view on the rights of Spanish speakers in Arizona? Aren’t they about twice as numerous (in percentage terms) as Anglo-Quebecers?”

    Spanish speakers should have — and do as far as I know — all the rights that members of any other language group have when it comes to free speech and free association and, of course, equality rights. These are the same individual rights I demand for anglo-Quebecers in Quebec.

    Isn’t this just decent common sense?

    T.K.

    September 5, 2008 at 11:12 am

  25. What about publicly-funded education, health care and other government services in their language?

    Acajack

    September 5, 2008 at 11:14 am

  26. So Quebec offers publicly-funded education, health care and government services to Italian, Russian, and other immigrants in their native languages? Or do you expect them to learn the language of the land?

    You’re comparing apples and oranges.

    Roger

    September 5, 2008 at 12:01 pm

  27. T. K. writes: “That is why I am insistant that Quebec separate and have the protection for French that the boundaries of an independent nation will give it. Only then, it seems, will Quebec feel comfortable repealing Bill 101…and if that is what it takes then I say: goodbye Canada.”

    Hell yeah! For once we agree on something.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 5, 2008 at 12:06 pm

  28. Acajack asks: “What about publicly-funded education, health care and other government services in their language?”

    For Quebec Anglos: yes, absolutely, for all those things.

    For Spanish in Arizona: no for publicly-funded education in Spanish; no to other government services in Spanish; yes to health care on a case by case basis where danger to life can be presented.

    T.K.

    September 5, 2008 at 12:14 pm

  29. Acajack writes “it’s the result of a collective guilt trip that a language was badly beaten into submission, so they allow it to modestly come back in a cutesy, folksy way once it’s no longer a legitimate threat to the dominance of the desired language (Breton in Brittany, Welsh in Wales, French on the Canadian Prairies).”

    This is the truest thing I have read all week. I’ve often sensed this but couldn’t write it out so clearly as acajack. Anyway, it seems clear to me that without the language laws in Quebec, French there would be reaching the state it has in St Boniface or Louisiana-a quaint anthropological curiosity, as I’ve called it before, because that’s what it is to everyone, whether they want to admit it or not. They say, “oh my grandma speaks French” as if that means that it is alive and flourishing. Yeah, well, mine did too, as her family came from the Canadian prairies when they came to farm in North Dakota. Guess which language she switched to after leaving the farm and guess which language my parents can only speak now?

    You can’t work in those aforementioned languages in those parts of the world (wales/prairies/breton). The same is true for Irish in Ireland, which nobody takes seriously. Some on the west side of the island say tra-la-la things like “Oh, my dreams are in Irish,” or “I first conceive my thoughts in Irish.” What is fortunate about French in Quebec is that it still has a chance, today in 2008, of being a “legitimate” language and not a folk one as T. K. calls it. All of these laws about which we are arguing are necessary to make sure that the very real chance of French surviving and flourishing on this continent is not wasted.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 5, 2008 at 12:20 pm

  30. T. K. writes: “Acajack asks: “What about publicly-funded education, health care and other government services in their language?”

    For Quebec Anglos: yes, absolutely, for all those things.

    For Spanish in Arizona: no for publicly-funded education in Spanish; no to other government services in Spanish; yes to health care on a case by case basis where danger to life can be presented.”

    Don’t you see how you have exposed yourself once again in this post? From now on, all one has to do is reproduce these words to refute and thwart any argument you make.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    September 5, 2008 at 12:22 pm


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