AngryFrenchGuy

Knowledge is Power. English is Not.

with 73 comments

In English-speaking societies the polite, or the correct, thing to say is that learning more than one language is a good thing. Learning languages is an enriching experience, it opens cultural horizons, facilitates travel and generally separates the good Anglos from the stereotypical Ugly Americans.

Multilingual Anglophones realize the personal benefits of languages such as career opportunities and the satisfaction of traveling without the constant impression that someone is talking behind your back, but the conventional wisdom in the English-speaking world is still very much that even though speaking many languages is nice, the only language you actually need, pretty much any where in the world, is English.

Learning foreign languages is perceived as a good thing in Anglodia in the same way charity, peacekeeping and volunteering are considered good things. A graceful gesture towards the less fortunate. A reasonable accommodation.

There is one fact, however, that hasn’t yet reached consciousness in societies where English is the first language:

In an English-speaking world, uniligual English-speakers are fucked.

Today, the world speaks English. That is a fact. But the world hasn’t stopped speaking other languages. That is also a fact.

You see, English as an international language is like a two way mirror. The whole world can see/read/understand English, but unilingual Anglos are stuck on the other side, unable to look out. They understand what we chose to say in English, but as soon as we switch to our other languages, they are locked out.

They, on the other hand, have nowhere to hide…

This is a serious disadvantage. Take the example of radical Islam. Radical clerics have made some very real inroads in the West, notably in poor urban areas and American jails because they can proselytize in English. On the other hand the CIA, Scotland Yard and the other Western agencies fighting terrorism candidly admit they don’t have enough translators to go through the Internet discussion groups where terrorists plan their attacks, in Arabic, Farsi, or other languages.

Or take scholarship. All the research and science coming out of the world’s universities and corporations is published in English. That means that nearly all the scientists and administrators in the world can access, understand and use that information directly, without any help from anyone.

On the other hand if an Indian scientist makes an important discovery – say, the nuclear energy field – that could be strategically important for India, it is much easier for him to control the circulation of that information by discussing it with his colleagues only in Hindi, or if his findings are really hot, he can write all his papers in the regional dialect of his youth in Arunachal Pradesh.

Sure, translation is possible. It is also costly, time-consuming and totally dependent on other people. And you also have too know there is information you are looking for in the first place.

The near universality of English in universities and science has often been accused of being a vicious circle that unfairly advantages native English-speakers, but the the exact opposite is probably closer to the truth.

In his book English as a Global Language, linguist David Crystal points out that the British are by far the least competent in languages of all Europeans with only 29% of executives able to conduct negotiations in a language other than English. He cites studies that show that one in three British company has reported losing business because of poor language skills.

Business executives in France and Germany have also read those studies and you can bet they have taken note of this advantage they have over the British.

Anglo culture -American, British and the rest- was enriched beyond reason by letting so many cultural influences into it’s own world, usually through the English language. This great advantage, however, is slowly turning into a disadvantage as we, the entire planet, can now access the whole of English Language culture, from Seinfeld to Radiohead to lectures by Noam Chomsky to Alan Greenspan’s autobiography as if it were our own, while monoglot English-speakers can only access what we decide to share with them.

Knowledge is power. Who’s got the power now?

And if you are still not convinced that speaking only English will make you the laughing-stock of the globalized world, just click HERE. Ne cliquez pas sur le lien si vous parlez français, c’est seulement pour rire des Anglais.


Bookmark and Share

Written by angryfrenchguy

June 8, 2008 at 5:01 pm

73 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Acajack,

    Haven’t you ever been to Phoenix, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles ? L.A. has more Spanish speakers than Madrid, so please stop comparing it to the Franco-Manitobans. One just has to scan the car radio dial in those cities to realize that Spanish is much more present than French in any major ROC city. Thats why more and more Americans are learning it, its useful for every day life. Thats why Anglo Quebeckers also learn French .

    Dave

    June 10, 2008 at 3:48 pm

  2. “My prediction (at least my hope) is that as the Québécois and other non-Anglos worldwide realize that they are the majority in the English-speaking world, they will no longer have any patience for unilinguals who can’t keep up.”

    Is there no end to your despise and hate for anglos AGF….I am beginning to think you are a language racist… I am not down on francos…nice language…reasonably nice people but a bit unmotivated economically…of course they can count on the stupid anglos to fill the gap!

    Be careful…anglos might learn your language of french and then you wouldnt be as “elitest” as you think you are….Yes, your english is quite good…above average by your own admission…do you have delusions of grandeur because you speak french and also speak english well. Better than other Quebecois by your own admission ..so then you must be superior to most of the other Quebecois ….who dont speak english as well as yourself…You are truly in your own click bud…get over yourself.

    Be honest, languages change, demographics change…. 325 million anglos and 6 million francos in NA….do you really think that french will survive in the end. (Francos outside of Quebec have diminished 25% in the last five years) Good thing you have a good grasp of English…you will no doubt need it depending upon your age.

    What is your real problem?

    Have a nice day.

    ABP

    ABP

    June 10, 2008 at 8:20 pm

  3. “Haven’t you ever been to Phoenix, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles ?”

    Yes, I’ve been to a few of these places.

    “L.A. has more Spanish speakers than Madrid, so please stop comparing it to the Franco-Manitobans.”

    Actually, I was comparing Hispanics in Chicago to Franco-Manitobans in Winnipeg. Plus, you have mentioned a handful of cities in a country with at least 25 metropolitan areas with populations of at least 2 million (the size of Vancouver, our third largest city). These are big cities for sure, and Hispanics are quite numerous in several of the larger cities, but large as they are they only comprise a fraction of the total population of the United States.

    “One just has to scan the car radio dial in those cities to realize that Spanish is much more present than French in any major ROC city.”

    French is certainly much more present on an official level in a place like Ottawa (a major ROC city in my book) than Spanish is in any of the cities you mentioned.

    “Thats why more and more Americans are learning it, its useful for every day life. Thats why Anglo Quebeckers also learn French.”

    Funny you should mention that. Anglo-Quebecers didn’t really learn French in large numbers until they were pretty much forced to starting in the 1970s.

    Acajack

    June 10, 2008 at 8:21 pm

  4. ‘French is certainly much more present on an official level in a place like Ottawa (a major ROC city in my book) than Spanish is in any of the cities you mentioned.’

    Doubt it…my last trip through the Miami airport….between terminals I would say that 4 out of 5 conversations were in espanol between airport workers (even security staff)..gate attendents etc.

    Dont recall hearing that much french the last time I went through the Ottawa airport…except for the PA announcments..some recorded…but than again so are the english messages.

    Espanol is becoming very commonplace in the major centers…major centers have the concentration of population…

    “Funny you should mention that. Anglo-Quebecers didn’t really learn French in large numbers until they were pretty much forced to starting in the 1970s”

    Interesting…could this have anything to do with the OLA in Canada…where civil servants were given time off and free french classes in lieu of work they should have been doing…Bill 101….Bilingualism by enforcement…Not the same in the US….I dont think the have an OLA in the USA. Canada is not a bilingual country…a total lie predicated by our federal politicos…and their poster boy/girl civil service. Get real. No doubt french is the model for Quebec and so it should be….wouldnt know it if you only go to Montreal….but in Province french is the official language and likely the most commonplace found. No issues with that….Just not in the balance of Canada.

    So then why do we pretend it is otherwise??

    ABP

    ABP

    June 10, 2008 at 8:39 pm

  5. In USA, “hispanic” refers to ethnicity not language. Even brazilian, lusophone mostly, are often put into the hispanic group in the USA context.

    Spanish is mostly spoken by first generation immigrants from latin america. Second generation (and young first generation) massively switch to english.

    I’ve seen report showing that 95% of third generation hispanics are unilingual english speakers.

    quebecois separatiste

    June 10, 2008 at 8:52 pm

  6. “Funny you should mention that. Anglo-Quebecers didn’t really learn French in large numbers until they were pretty much forced to starting in the 1970s.“
    The ones who couldn’t or wouldn’t left, the others already knew it.

    “French is certainly much more present on an official level in a place like Ottawa (a major ROC city in my book) than Spanish is in any of the cities you mentioned.“

    I personally would prefer to have more French speakers in say Ottawa, even if that meant less “official presence“ whatever that means.

    My point Acajack is that most people learn languages because they are useful.

    “but large as they are they only comprise a fraction of the total population of the United States.“

    Spanish speakers are 14.8 % of the US population. Which is at least three times greater than that of French speakers in the ROC. Thats why the Anglos do better at learning Spanish than ours in ROC do learning French. Its wht Quebec Anglos are the most bilingual large linguistic group in Canada.

    You seem to imply the the Anglos of ROC are poor learners compared to their counterparts in the USA. This is not at all the case. In the USA, the physical presence of such large numbers of Spanish speakers constitutes a critical mass that just doesn’t exist outside of Ottawa and Northern NB.

    Dave

    June 10, 2008 at 9:09 pm

  7. “My prediction (at least my hope) is that as the Québécois and other non-Anglos worldwide realize that they are the majority in the English-speaking world, they will no longer have any patience for unilinguals who can’t keep up.”

    “Is there no end to your despise and hate for anglos AGF….I am beginning to think you are a language racist… I am not down on francos…nice language…reasonably nice people but a bit unmotivated economically…of course they can count on the stupid anglos to fill the gap!”

    Im shaking my head. This is a discussion people.It isn’t a blame game. AFG I don’t believe you hate unilingual anglo’s. You make a very valid point in saying that English is a Universal language and in a mainstream society where English is NOT the main languauge spoken, unilingual English-speaking people should make an effort to adapt and learn rather than live in ignorance simply because English is a universal language. Just because English is universal, does not give Anglo’s the right to take advantage of it.

    APB, I am more inclined to know what ur problem is? ” A bit unmotivated economically?” And you’re the one complaining of language discrimination? Isn’t that a little bit hypicritical?

    Anonymous

    June 11, 2008 at 12:42 am

  8. “APB, I am more inclined to know what ur problem is? ” A bit unmotivated economically?” And you’re the one complaining of language discrimination? Isn’t that a little bit hypicritical?”

    Hypocritical…why would you say that.

    Unmotivated economically….check the facts. Quebec is 23% of the population and receives over 60% of equalization payments in this country. The ROC subsidies the standard of living in Quebec with Billions of dollars each year. This is a fact.

    I am not complaining about any discrimination…..maybe complaining about the the huge waste of taxpayers dollars that have been spent on “enforced” official bilingual (note I dont include Quebec in this argument) programs such as the OLA which have been for the most part a dismal failure.

    You have to understand, that in the majority of Canada people have no reason to adopt french in their day to day lives. This being the case, even if they wanted to learn french they would never attain proficiency due to lack of sustained and continued use. Canada, (outside of Quebec again) as I said, is not a bililngual country…The question should be, should we continue to spend vast sums of taxpayers money on programs which have failed. Continually doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is Einsteins definition of insanity.

    It would appear to me that any discrimination on this forum would be focused towards Anglos and the english language.

    “Just because English is universal, does not give Anglo’s the right to take advantage of it. ”

    What, they are taking advantage of it because they a happen to be native speaking anglos. How is this?

    ABP

    ABP

    June 11, 2008 at 9:55 am

  9. “You seem to imply that the Anglos of ROC are poor learners compared to their counterparts in the USA. This is not at all the case.”

    The anglos of the ROC are just as smart as anyone else and as intellectually capable of learning a second language as anyone else. That said, there seems to be a laziness or (worse still) bad faith, at work that has created a psychological barrier to learning French. I am not the only one taking stock of this. Everyone from Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser (Ontario-born), to Jack Jedwab to the golden boy of Canadian politics Justin Trudeau has alluded to it.

    Regarding the U.S… well many here are still confusing Hispanics with Spanish speakers. I can’t believe that people feel that the fact that Jose, Juan and their buddies all landed $6.50 an hour jobs at Miami airport screening people with electronic wands is a significant development in North American language demographics.

    The truth is that, as someone pointed out, Spanish is impressive right now, but most people in the know question whether it has staying power. Way more people in Buenos Aires have Italian surnames than Spanish ones, but guess what language they speak?

    To someone who visits a place like Miami or Los Angeles, the presence of Spanish is striking, but ask anyone who tries to do business there with Latin America and needs people who can actually write the language and they’ll tell you that staff that are professionally competent in Spanish are very rare. Most Cuban-Americans in Miami couldn’t write proper Spanish to save their lives.

    That’s the huge difference with a place like Ottawa, where you have French fully present in officialdom: a full-fledged school system, a French-only college, a bilingual university that trains doctors, engineers, nurses and other professionals in French, a national public service based in the city that requires its managers and directors to know French at the C (very proficient) level.

    Just have a look at how much of the City of Ottawa’s Website is translated into French versus how much of Miami’s is in Spanish. Pretty much every single bit of municipal information in Ottawa is available in French, from public reports to meeting agendas and minutes. If you click on “En Español” from the City of Miami’s page, beyond the initial welcome pages in Spanish, eventually you’re led off to stuff that’s only in English. That doesn’t happen with Ottawa.

    Sounds like many people here are just making excuses for the obstinate unilingualism of English-speaking Canada. Heck, even the stodgy old United Kingdom has close to twice as many citizens (according to the European Union) in percentage who can speak French as Anglo-Canada does. Apparently 17% of Britons can speak French, whereas just under 10% of English-speaking Canadians can. (And the number is even lower when you factor out Anglo-Quebecers, who live in a francophone environment.)

    Now, how are you going to explain that one?

    Acajack

    June 11, 2008 at 10:07 am

  10. Acajack,
    maybe you guys should all pack and move to the UK. Oh, sorry. I forgot that despite their well-documented French ancestry Quebecois have no legal right to live and work in European Union. You are always welcome as a tourists though.

    AGF,
    why don’t you invite all those nuclear scientist from India to immigrate to Quebec? They could do their top class research later in the night, after they are finished sweeping floors in factories and offices , laying bricks, or stocking shelves in Metro.
    Then they could communicate their magnificent results to you in Hindu to keep it a secret. Worth a thought, me thinks.

    The reason English-speaking Canadians are ‘obstinate unilinguists’ is because most of them have functioning eyesight and can clearly see that UK and former English colonies are the most advanced,democratic, and prosperous countires in the world while French collonial rule has created only a string of proverbial shitholes with run down economy that includes Province of Quebec as well. That’s what’s called ‘evidence-based decision making’. So, maybe they like to live on the top of thepile instead of crawling through the bottom of the barrel.

    Re: language
    It’s hard to explain to crypto communists with parochial mindset that there are people out there who like to think with their own heads and make choices based on personal preferences instead of being forced by the local, provincial, or federal bureaucrats to do something they don’t want, i.e. speak in language they are clearly not interested to learn. But hey, tirany of minority is the pinnacle of society.

    And if you guys really want to be taken seriosly, first step in the right direction would be to demand an end to those ‘humiliating and unjust equalization payments because Quebecois can take care of themselves’.

    FredB

    June 11, 2008 at 12:07 pm

  11. “The anglos of the ROC are just as smart as anyone else and as intellectually capable of learning a second language as anyone else. That said, there seems to be a laziness or (worse still) bad faith, at work that has created a psychological barrier to learning French. I am not the only one taking stock of this. Everyone from Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser (Ontario-born), to Jack Jedwab to the golden boy of Canadian politics Justin Trudeau has alluded to it.”

    Reasurring to know that we are not a group of academic have nots with low intelligence as others have suggested on this forum. Yes, there is likely obstinance to learning french. Some issues which could explain this at least in the West which I have noted.

    1.
    The OLA has cost mainly the ROC billions and billions of dollars to train civil servents, conduct french imperative programs in the ROC such as immersion programs. This is viewed as a waste of money by many as the language is not widely used in the ROC. As I have previously stated, therein lies the main problem….if you dont use and practice it you will never be proficient know matter how many immersion or community college course you take. Also, the ROCians don’t really assign a value other than for maybe cultural issues as it is of little use in daily life. (Maybe we should ban english packaging and that would force anglos to learn french to read directions on pharmaceuticals… :) Somehow I doubt that would ever happen..contravenes the OLA!
    So then, no practical use but the government continues spending huge monies going forward which is viewed by many as a program with no justification and a waste of taxpayers dollars.
    2.
    Political issues. Many look at Quebec with jaded glasses due to the preferential treatment they have received over the years from the federal government. (Done in an effort to maintain Cdn unity). Separatist issues are another irritant. This has created a backlash against the french language as people equate Quebec with the language and therefore associate French with problems.. (I dont think this is the case personally but this is a common perception for those in english Canada.)

    3.
    Government Policies regarding bilingual hiring policies are viewed as disrimination against anglos in the ROC. While this may not be the case, it does exist as policy which is viewed as disrimination against unilinguals in the ROC. Bilingualism is a prequisite to many high level government jobs …yes or no?

    4.

    Quebecs own “101” is viewed as disriminatory in the the ROC by many as no such programs or laws exist in the ROC.

    There are other reasons but the above may explain the reasons to why there might be obstinance to the language.

    “Just have a look at how much of the City of Ottawa’s Website is translated into French versus how much of Miami’s is in Spanish. Pretty much every single bit of municipal information in Ottawa is available in French, from public reports to meeting agendas and minutes. If you click on “En Español” from the City of Miami’s page, beyond the initial welcome pages in Spanish, eventually you’re led off to stuff that’s only in English. That doesn’t happen with Ottawa.”

    This is due to the provisions of the OLA and that in fact I believe the National Capital Region was declared officially bilingual.
    There is no equivalent to the OLA in the US. They only officially recognize one language.

    ABP

    ABP

    June 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm

  12. “This is due to the provisions of the OLA and that in fact I believe the National Capital Region was declared officially bilingual.”

    The federal Official Languages Act does not apply to the City of Ottawa because as a municipality it is an entity under the authority of the Ontario government. A few years ago the City of Ottawa itself wanted to declare itself officially bilingual but the province (Mike Harris was Premier at the time) turned them down. In reality, the City of Ottawa is “de facto” bilingual (or at least as bilingual as it can be in the context of Ontario demographics where the majority of people speak only English), though not “de jure” (legally) bilingual.

    Good points by the way ABP. You effectively sum up how many people feel. I don’t necessarily agree with their reasoning, but I can’t dispute that it’s out there.

    Acajack

    June 11, 2008 at 1:19 pm

  13. “There is no equivalent to the OLA in the US. They only officially recognize one language. ” ABP

    Actually English is not the offical language of the US. There is none at the federal level.

    Many states have “English-only” laws, which are complete misnomers. They only require government meetings and documents in English.

    Even right-wingers would never accept an English version of 101, if only because of the burden it would place on private business.

    Roger

    June 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm

  14. “Even right-wingers would never accept an English version of 101, if only because of the burden it would place on private business.”

    I am not saying there should be or there is a desire for an English 101. What I said was there is the version in Quebec and there is nothing else like it in the ROC. Some people view this as discrimination as there is no similar law outside of Quebec.

    ABP

    ABP

    June 11, 2008 at 6:13 pm

  15. The State of Arizona once had a law that required state employees to speak English only on the job, but it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1994.

    Acajack

    June 12, 2008 at 12:43 pm

  16. You have all worried me greatly!

    I am Irish and my boyfriend is from Montreal. I am meant to be moving there for the summer because i desperately want to be with him and would love to take the opportunity to also try to learn french.

    Unfortunately as Ireland is not on mainland Europe, as a child I was not exposed to the regular 3-5 languages that most central mainland europeans can speak.

    As a culture who was repressed by the English and FORCED to speak english for generations our native irish is a dying language. Thus, schools try to beat this language into us before all others! French classes would be secondary.

    Now I fear that going to Montreal could be a mistake as even if I try to learn french, I will be looked down upon by people who expect me to know it and see me as ignorant for not already knowing it…on top of this I worry greatly about job prospects for someone with very little french and even less quebecois. I have signed up for part-time classes for all summer but I am not sure that this will be enough. Is this really the attitude of the majority?

    Do you have any advice on how to get by?!

    Anonymous

    June 12, 2008 at 5:26 pm

  17. I forgot to mention that it would be useful for you as an ‘auteur’ to change your blog’s name to ‘Angry French-Speaking Guy’; given the fact that you are definitely NOT a French citizen, just a run-of-the-mill local French-speaking post-colonial variety that’s widely available in various colorful garments across the globe, starting from “A”bidjan all the way to “Q”uebec (City).

    Thanks for the understanding.

    Or maybe you are famous ‘Stéphane Dion’, just without spectacles?

    FredB

    June 12, 2008 at 7:05 pm

  18. “Now I fear that going to Montreal could be a mistake as even if I try to learn french, I will be looked down upon by people who expect me to know it and see me as ignorant for not already knowing it…on top of this I worry greatly about job prospects for someone with very little french and even less quebecois. I have signed up for part-time classes for all summer but I am not sure that this will be enough. Is this really the attitude of the majority?

    Do you have any advice on how to get by?!”

    You are in for a nice surprise….English is quite common in Montreal…I doubt you will have any problems. Some areas are very french speaking but in the downtown cooridor. West Island, NDG, etc you will hear predominately english spoken…no worries. You should be encourged to learn some french…its a nice language. Montreal is a nice city…lots to do…and generally a friendly place….Be ready, however, that if you address a bilingual in french and they realize you are not that proficient that they will answer you in English almost every time. Just quicker and more efficient for those in the service industry and retail sectors.

    ABP

    ABP

    June 12, 2008 at 8:32 pm

  19. Hi Acajack,

    You say :
    “So the issue would seem to be with people McGill and Concordia bring in from outside Quebec, be they from Ontario, Alberta, Mississippi or Taiwan.“

    This is a reply I’ve heard often. Roughly it goes : “Anglo-Quebeckers are fully functional and integrated in French culture these days, and only newly arrived immigrants give the impression of non-integration”. Which also means that angry French people getting annoyed at anglos who don’t speak French really can’t make the difference between long time residents and tourists or exchange students.

    I’ll grant you that cretins of that sort exist, but give us some credit…

    You see, my work takes place in 3 sectors of Montreal : 2 on St-Laurent Street and 1 in the McGill ghetto. Before that, for 1 year, I worked for a big engineering firm downtown, which employed as many French as English folks. And before that I attended university, splitting my years in 2: Winter sessions at UdeM; summers at McGill. Plus my roommates for 4 years were Concordia students.
    All this to say that I’ve spent the last 10 years zig-zagging between French and English Montreal. And my friends, acquaintances, colleagues and customers come from both equally.

    As for my girlfriend, she comes from around Sherbrooke : She’s lived in places like Lennoxville and Bishoptown. And her parents are now in Bury.
    (Talknig about Bury and “English please !” : http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20071129/CPTRIBUNE/711290759/7129/CPTRIBUNE )

    -Please believe me : we don’t expect newly arrived immigrants, may they be from Bombay or Toronto, to know French right away. And we’re more than willing to speak English with them. When we get annoyed at an “English please !”, we do know they were either born here or have been here for a while.

    As for tourists and newcomers, we’re more than willing to help them by speaking English with them. As they do in my girlfriend’s lab with students and researchers from out of the province.

    Raman

    June 12, 2008 at 11:26 pm

  20. The advantages of speaking more than one language are evident.
    I am fully bilingual – French & English – with a good knowledge of German and can get by in Spanish.
    I was traveling in Greece once and started talking with a gentlemen who, besides his own language – Greek- spoke Spanish.
    That was a most pleasant encounter.
    One of my sisters is also bilingual – French and Spanish. She is able to spend 2 winter months in Florida without any problem communicating.
    For many people, a knowledge of English is but one additional tool in our box, to be taken out when needed.

    doulcefrance

    June 13, 2008 at 8:43 am

  21. Raman wrote:
    “This is a reply I’ve heard often. Roughly it goes : “Anglo-Quebeckers are fully functional and integrated in French culture these days, and only newly arrived immigrants give the impression of non-integration”. Which also means that angry French people getting annoyed at anglos who don’t speak French really can’t make the difference between long time residents and tourists or exchange students.”

    I do think we’re pretty much on the same wavelength here, but I’d still like to reply to what you said. I’d say that most younger Anglo-Quebecers who were raised here are quite functional in French these days, but I wouldn’t say they’re integrated into francophone culture. That is where the integration stops and most know very little about Quebec culture. Maybe this will be the next step? It’s been a huge amount of work and teeth-gnashing just getting most anglophones to speak to us in French a teeny bit, so any progress on this is always painstaking it seems.

    Now, regarding our friends just arrived from Bombay and Toronto, well this is actually a huge challenge (some would say a problem), because the numbers of people we are talking about are quite significant, and we can’t just say: “yeah, they’ll learn after a while”. Well, many don’t learn even after several years spent working and living here (Saku Koivu anyone?).

    So even if we succeed (as we appear to be doing) in integrating our native-born anglo population linguistically at least, many of the unilingual persons that are no longer being produced by Quebec itself are being replaced by people coming in from outside its borders, people that we have great difficulty integrating as adults as we know all too well (especially if they are affiliated with institutions like McGill and Concordia). This situation effectively nullifies much of the good progress Quebec is making with its established anglophone community and gives the impression that French is somewhat stagnant when it shouldn’t be, given everything that has been put in place to make it progress.

    Acajack

    June 13, 2008 at 9:36 am

  22. Not really on the topic of the original post by AFG but this thread has veered way off course big time anyway. Plus it will surely be of interest to many people here.

    Both LeDroit (Ottawa-Gatineau) and La Nouvelle (Embrun, in Eastern Ontario) are reporting on this nice campaign undertaken by patriotic Canadians:

    http://www.galganov.com/editorials.asp?id=1003

    So it’s a boycott of « French-owned » businesses, eh? So ALL francophones are guilty by association, right? Even though some of them were probably against the municipality’s recently-adopted bilingual sign bylaw?

    Just what I suspected all along by people like Galganov. They’re quick to condemn discrimination, but only discrimination against certain groups of people that they primarily identify with. Discrimination and intolerance against other “lesser” peoples is OK in their book.

    Acajack

    June 13, 2008 at 9:58 am

  23. Acajack,

    Yes, your a bit off the course on this one.

    I dont agree at all with many of good old Howard’s ideas but that being said.

    Why a bylaw to force bilingual signs. upon businesses??? ..should this not be voluntary.. Or let the market decide, if people prefer to shop at a market which has a bilingual sign they will vote with their wallets as to where they wish to shop.

    Same old story…if you force something onto people they generally react with resentment.

    It should be voluntary issue, period. There is no bill 101 in Ontario and the last time I checked Ontario was not officially bilingual. Further this law if, passed, encroaches upon the rights of the individual.

    You are right in that its is most likely that some francos in the community have likely voted against the law. But of course this is not the optics and the francos will be branded as forcing this law on people. What else would they think.

    Seems we are becoming increasingly more divisive and polarized in Canada along language issues as these issues illustrate.

    ABP

    ABP

    June 13, 2008 at 1:13 pm

  24. The mayor of the municipality is actually called Ken Hill. He speaks only halting French yet was a supporter of the bylaw.

    No one will be surprised that I am in favour of the bylaw. That said, whether or not one is in agreement with the bylaw, the fact that people are being asked to boycott all francophone businesses (French-owned, in Galganov’s simplespeak)because they are esteemed to be “guilty by association” just because of their innate “Frenchness” smacks of racism, to be quite frank.

    I’ve never heard of anyone in Quebec asking for a boycott of anglo businesses just because some/many anglos were opposed to Bill 101. Boycott businesses that can’t serve people in French, sure. But boycott anglo businesses just because they’re anglo on the presumption that they’re supporters of Galganov and Co. just because they’re English-speaking???? Hmmm…

    Acajack

    June 13, 2008 at 2:13 pm

  25. Acajack,

    The simple question is why??

    Just let people decide what to do with their signs and their businesses. Let them make the choice rather than forcing a no choice situation.

    The government as of late including municipal governments are getting way to involved in “we know whats good for you” types of legislation.

    This is a classic example.

    If people in Saskatoon want to put up a sign on their busines in any language…no problem. tell them the sign has to be in English….or any other language for that matter…they will be put off.

    ABP

    ABP

    June 13, 2008 at 5:41 pm

  26. “I’ve never heard of anyone in Quebec asking for a boycott of anglo businesses just because some/many anglos were opposed to Bill 101. Boycott businesses that can’t serve people in French, sure. But boycott anglo businesses just because they’re anglo on the presumption that they’re supporters of Galganov and Co. just because they’re English-speaking????”

    Q
    What brought on the issues of boycotts and other frustrations??

    A

    An ill conceived and unnecessary bylaw.

    ABP

    ABP

    June 14, 2008 at 11:12 am

  27. Acajack,

    “Amen” to the 2 points you make in your reply.

    As it stands, Quebec is 2 distinct societies, and much of the friction that folks go through, “au jour le jour”, come from that fact.

    I (nor most Québécois) do not in any way hope that English disappears from this society. What I would like to see is my anglo friends and neighbours take as much of an interest in what makes us tick, culturally, as we do them.

    -I’d like to be able to share the beauty of Richard Desjardin’s poetry with them as much as we can appreciate Arcade Fire’s music.
    (And I’d like for them to stop thinking we’re all genocidal maniacs, like reading only The Gazette and listening only to CJAD seem to suggest.)

    I guess my daily encounters do not make me as optimistic as you seem to be on that front…
    But you’re right in pointing out that a lot of progress has been accomplished.

    I’d just wish we could do the rest of the way without having to impose it by way of legislation.

    Raman

    June 14, 2008 at 5:35 pm

  28. Thanks Raman.

    Interesting that you read some optimism in my posts. I must say I feel more confused than anything on the issue and would be hard-pressed to predict where things are headed. At this point, it could go either way I’d say.

    Anonymous

    June 15, 2008 at 8:36 pm

  29. ABP: “The simple question is why??
    Just let people decide what to do with their signs and their businesses. Let them make the choice rather than forcing a no choice situation.
    The government as of late including municipal governments are getting way to involved in “we know whats good for you” types of legislation.
    This is a classic example.
    If people in Saskatoon want to put up a sign on their busines in any language…no problem. tell them the sign has to be in English….or any other language for that matter…they will be put off.”

    The answer your “why” is actually pretty obvious when you think about it.

    Saskatoon, where you live, has existed for about as long as the community of Embrun, where this saga has taken, since the mid to late 19th century. For all intents and purposes, Saskatoon has always been predominantly English-speaking and Embrun has always been French-speaking. Now imagine for a minute that all of a sudden, in the space of just a few years, you started noticing that the odd shop where you do business could serve you only in French. After a while, you start to notice that you have to speak French to get more and more of what you need in your everyday life, from gas for your car to your copy of the Star-Phoenix at the corner store. Now, we’re not talking about a mom-and-pop store opened by freshly-arrived immigrants who just haven’t had time to learn English yet. I am talking pretty much everywhere you spend your money. Imagine going into Canadian Tire in Saskatoon, and no one can serve you in English, and if you insist on speaking in English, they treat you like an alien from outer space, a s— disturber or worse, they call the cops on you! Safeway’s pretty much all French now too, though given the demographics of Saskatoon there are still a few anglos who work there and can speak to you in English, if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon them.

    Now, please don’t tell me that people in your corner of the world would be totally “zen” about this. I’ve had enough experience living among English-speaking North Americans to know that they’d recoil to something like this, actually much more strongly than francophones. Or they just get up and leave, as anglos did in many parts of Quebec, or Miami or the other places in the U.S. where Hispanics are perceived to have “taken over”.

    Acajack

    June 15, 2008 at 8:54 pm

  30. Acajack,

    I think you are missing my point on this.

    You have provided a long response to the “why” question regarding the sign issue in Embrun.

    This should again, be a choice of the individual business owners as to which flavor of sign they display. This could be english only, french only or both but it should be at the discretion of proprietors of the businss and not forced by municipal bylaw. I note the the local Chamber of Commerce is vehemently opposed to this bylaw.

    The real point..freedom of choice.

    With your response your are indicating that you are in agreement of removing the freedom of choice for business owners to use their own volition and common sense to make the decision of what language or both to utilize on signs. Competition and the marketplace would soon decide for them as to what choice to make, but at the end of the day….. at least it would be their choice and not one made for them by civic politicians who have no interest in their enterprise.

    Its not such a large issue anyways, as the bylaw is for new signs or businesses. The existing signs are grandfathered under this bylaw so there is really no economic impact to existing business.

    Sad day for basic freedom of choice if they pass it. Whether you be franco/anglo or something else.

    On Saskatoon paralleled to Embrun…well in reality Saskatoon is majority anglo as you well know…and it is doubtful we will see it get majority french utilization ( or any other language) in the commercial sector any time soon. In Embrun, however, it is majority franco so if there are stores or outlets they are not providing service in french (the language the majority) I suppose another WHY would be in order. This is what you had indicated although I find this hard to understand as there is a definite franco majority.

    A bit of research indicated to me that Embrun is franco and nearly Russel is majority anglo. There was a time a few years ago where anglos did business in Russel and francos did their business in Embrun almost exclusivily . I suspect that things will return to this model owing to the controversy and ill feelings between anglos and francos brought on by the proposed bylaw. Perhaps the resentment has always existed and the bylaw was but a catalyst to bring it front and forward.

    C’est le vie.

    ABP

    I think the final vote is actually June 16 if the newspapers are correct.

    ABP

    June 16, 2008 at 3:07 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: