If you get to call us separatists, then we get to call you Evil Empire.
How do you say indépendentiste in English?
There is no word.
This is not trivial. English-speaking journalists will use the Parti Québécois’s terminology and call the party’s supporters sovereignists. In casual conversation the highly pejorative separatist is nearly universal.
But how do you call someone who supports the secession of Québec from the Canadian federation on the general concept of the right to self-determination but who is not necessarily a nationalist or a supporter of the Parti québécois’ (increasignly vague) plan for sovereignty?
These terms are inadequate to reflect the nuances within Québec society on the definition of an independent Québec and it’s political and economic relations with other countries. In English there is only the PQ as the polite face of the radical raving-mad separatists.
As a friend who got tired of being called a separatist once said: Separatist? What do you think this is? Star Wars?
Éric Grenier discussed this in his blog Sovereignty en Anglais a few weeks ago in his post on the tactical debates raging within the Parti Québécois:
“French has a lot of words that simply don’t work well in English. “Référendisme” is one of them. Péquiste (PQ members), adéqiste (ADQ members), bloquiste (Bloc members), are other ones that can’t be directly translated (aydeeque-iste?). ”
It is extremely interesting to realize that over 40 years after the creation of the modern Québec independence movement there are still no words in the English language for some of the most basic concepts of the movement’s terminology or even names for the members of Québec’s main political parties.
Is this because an Anglo can only be a Liberal?
Can he only be a Liberal because the independence movement rejects him or is it his community, media and language that unilaterally rejects a whole political movement by not even having words to represent it’s ideas and concepts?
Who is rejecting who is debatable. But the reality is that French Québec, nationalism and even the independence movement has a plurality of political parties and movements, from the far left internationalists of Québec Solidaire to the impatient nationalists of the new Parti indépendantiste (PI, get it?).
Québec’s Anglos somehow never participate in any significant way in any of those movements. Their language excludes them a priori from a “separatist” movement of “pure laine” (notice how the expression “pure laine”, used to make a clear distinction between old-stock French-canadians and other people living in Québec, DID make it into the English vocabulary!) nationalists. They read the Gazette and vote Liberal. Period.
When he saw that 97% of Anglophones had voted against sovereignty in the 1995 referendum Pierre Bourgault concluded: “According to me, 60 to 65% would’ve represented a democratic vote, 80% a xenophobic vote and 97%… that’s simply a racist vote.”
It is not only the English language that has a more limited vocabulary. Take the distinction increasingly made by English-speakers between Quebecer, taken to mean the civic citizenship–the residents of the province of Québec–and the word Québécois, referring to an ethnic group, the French-speaking descendents of New France settlers.
In French, there are no words to make that distinction. Only Québécois. Does that reflect exclusion: there is the Québécois and there is the others? Or does is it illustrate inclusion: all who live in Québec are Québécois?
Perhaps it depends on who you ask.