Allophone is a French Word

with 251 comments

Allophones in Canada


There are no allophones in Canada.

Just for fun (because I’m the type of guy who entertains himself by doing amateur statistics on a Sunday afternoon while the rest of the World is watching some hockey game), I searched « allophone » + « every Canadian province » on the Canadian Newstand search engine.

In all the Canadian newspapers electronically archived, 1551 newspapers articles contained both the words Québec and allophone. If you remove the stories that also mention Québec, only 57 stories have ever been published in a major Canadian newspaper in which the reporter used both the words Canada and allophone. The words Ontario and allophone have shared a daily’s real estate only a precious five times.

And even though 42% of immigrant workers in British-Colombia say they regularly use a non-official language at work, no writer has ever used those two words in the same story. Ever.

There are no allophones in Canada. They all live in Québec.

Strictly speaking, an allophone is someone who’s native language is not the same as the one of the dominant linguistic community in which he lives, which in Canada is understood to mean someone who’s native tongue is neither French nor English.   By that definition, Ontario, British-Columbia, Alberta and even Manitoba have way more allophones than Québec.

In the context of Québec’s charged identity politics, however, the word allophone has become shorthand for visible minority, immigrant, ethnic and « white people with italian last names trying to claim some sort of ethnic heritage to advance their careers and/or political agenda », i.e. the Parti Québécois’ Pierre Curzi, the Liberal’s Liza Hébert/Frulla-Hébert/Frulla and the CDPQ’s Micheal Sabia.

That’s not to say allophones are a demographic fiction. They exist, at least in Québec. There are 900 000 allophones in the province, and with over 21 000 new recruits every year through immigration, they could soon be twice as numerous as Québec Anglos.

That’s huge. If the arrival of the French settlers four hundred years ago was the first dramatic demographic shift on the banks of the St.Lawrence river, and the arrival of the British Loyalists the second, we are now smack in the middle of the third.

Political pollsters usually treat Anglos and Allos as a single bloc of voters.  In the Montreal Gazette « anglophones and allophones » has become a single word as their writers try to convince us they have many black friends.

In real life, though, the Allophones are a very different tribe than the Anglos and Francos.

Three quarters of Québec Anglos only listen to music in English. Allos, like Francos, say they listen to music in French or English indiscriminately. Eighty-five percent of Québec’ Anglos watch all their TV in English. Half of Allos watch French television, a third of them exclusively. A small majority of allophones choose to read French-language newspapers (a huge majority if you count the free dailies distributed in the Montreal metro). One third of Québec Allos watch French language movies and the majority of shows they see are in French.

And whereas Anglophones who choose to study in another language than English at the post-secondary level are as rare as palm trees in Rosemont, half of Allophones (60% of those who went to French high school) choose to persue a higher education in French .

And those numbers are from Le grand Montréal s’anglicise, a report compiled by the Parti Québécois for the express purpose of scaring us into voting for secession ASAP.

The fact is allophones are just as endangered as francophones.

According the latest census data, there are 2 400 000 Allos in Canada who have gone Anglo. Combined with the 400 000 Francophones converts to English and the 500 000 new native English speakers in the country, this has led to one of the fastest periods of growth for the English language in Canadian history according to University of Ottawa demographer Charles Castonguay.

Even in Montreal, the allophone’s last refuge, economics pressure the majority of allophones who assimilate into one or the other of the great linguistic confederacies choose the English-language. The number of people who reported using English as their home language increased by 5,5% between the last two census periods. Again, unprecedented in the history of Canadian census data, according to prof Castonguay.

Montreal is not getting more diverse, it’s just becoming more English.   Just like Canada, where there are no more allophones.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

May 3, 2010 at 10:07 am

251 Responses

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  1. Le résultat est qu’il suffit qu’un seul juge soit unilingue pour obliger les avocats francophones a plaider uniquement en anglais: voila la différence entre des supposés droits sur papier et l’épreuve des faits. Les savants commentateurs du ROC savent cela tres bien. Alors, pourquoi s’y opposent-ils tout de meme? Probablement parce qu’il n’ont aucun respect pour les francophones: ils ne comprennt pas pourquoi il y a des gens dans le monde qui parlent d’étranges dialectes qu’ils ne comprennent pas: ils trouvent que l’anglais est suffisant et qu’il devrait dominer partout..


    May 16, 2010 at 12:13 am

  2. Je vous comprendre ton commentaire. Mais, il y a trois juges du Quebec, en fait, 30 %. Quand, Quebec est seule ou 23% de le peuple du Canada. Pas de problem pour moi avec le fait.. Assez bien et je d’accorde avec ca.

    Tu doit voir que le probleme est obtenirez les juges de l’autre regiones du Canada. Je penser que cette est un beaucoupe probleme pour le ROC.

    Aussi, les gens du le ROC sont tres fatiguons avec cette debat. Leur voir plus et plus que Quebec et les francais demander plus de lui.

    Je ne sais pas. Je doubt que le dossier 232 sera fais, Pour le peuple du l’ouest, Ontario, BC etc etc. C’est possible une grande geurre avec le niveau des provinces.

    C’est a voir, mon cher MDJ.

    dormez bien

    Aussi, le francais est trop difficule pour moi, comme tu connu assez bien. Alors, bonne nuit pour cette fois.


    May 16, 2010 at 12:14 am

  3. What time is it in Saskatchewan ? Here it is to early to sleep…Have a good night!


    May 16, 2010 at 12:20 am

  4. Ici, elle est vingt trois heures et vent trois minuts.

    Toi aussi un bonne nuit, si vous pas fatigues, il y a tourjous le plateau :)

    J’ai le match du golf en la matin.


    May 16, 2010 at 12:27 am

  5. Don’t you know it is forbidden to talk about golf to a montrealer, as long as the habs are in the playoff?


    May 16, 2010 at 7:31 am

  6. “un peuple dont la seule raison d’etre semble d’en dominer un autre, pour lui opposer l’homogénéité anglo-saxonne et sa fermeture a la culture universelle.”

    You might be confusing the Anything But French attitude with a lack of openness to other cultures. These are two different things, and do not necessarily occur hand in hand. One can be open to other cultures and languages, and still exhibit signs of ABF.

    Think of ABF in terms of a burnout (not very different from a job burnout). It’s when someone switches off and stops trying and caring.

    “la loi 101 n’interdit l’usage d’aucune langue, y compris l’anglais: elle exige que l’affichage se fasse obligatoirement en francais, en plus d’une autre langue.”

    It’s still a shame, regardless. It makes your language look desperate. Non-Francophones are turned off by that.


    May 16, 2010 at 9:26 am

  7. “It’s still a shame, regardless. It makes your language look desperate. Non-Francophones are turned off by that.”

    You should really stop speaking for all “non-francophones”. Allophones clearly do not live, consume, vote, read, study, think or see the Québec and Canada “just like Anglos” (or Francos).

    It’s like the Democrats arguing that they are right because they have more Black votes. It makes YOU look desperate.


    May 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

  8. Bravo ABP, Tu as fait un bon effort en français, deux affiches l’un après l’autre, et MDJ a apprécié le fait! Moi aussi, je l’apprécie.

    Oui, c’est juste que Québec retienne les trois juges du Cour Suprême; il s’agit des provisions constitutionelles.

    Comme tu disait “Pas de problème”


    May 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm

  9. @MDJ

    Même si tu as voté “Oui” en 1995, j’aime ton si beau français (avec ou sans accents, mais je le préfère avec … et merci beaucoup tu a l’amélioré la situation pour la plupart) et j’aime tellement le fait que tu as les couilles d’afficher ici en français au blog soi-disant “en anglais”. J’aime aussi voir que ABP peut lire tes affiches en français, et j’espère qu’un jour il t’achetera la bière qu’il t’avait promise. (accord de COD ici, n’est pas?). Et une bière pour moi aussi, ABP, s’il te plait! Et je vous tous jure que si l’on rencontre les uns les autres un jour à Montréal je payerai le deuxième tour de bière.


    May 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm

  10. @MDJ,

    “Quand une collectivité s’identifie comme un peuple ou une nation, elle devient automatiquement un peuple ou une nation: nul besoin de l’avis d’autrui, meme si cet autrui est anglophone et qu’il se croit apte a juger de haut les autre peuples ou nations.”

    Oui, cette déclaration semble réflèter la pensée lockienne, voltairienne, rousseauienne, hobbesienne etc. etc. Comment c’est un sentiment haut, noble et tout ça!

    Mais le diable se trouve dans les détails!

    Oui, en théorie c’est belle, ta rhétorique, mais le problème actuel d’ici, reste que Québec n’a jamais voté pour la séparation, même pas avec une question ruse et piègé comme elle de 1995!

    Il faudrait une question claire et simple. Il faudrait une majorité claire avec des observateurs internationales et vérification qu’il n’était pas question de tromperie au scrutin.

    Il faudrait au même temps un accord avant le scrutin pour la division des biens et la dette national et un accord sur la question de citoyenneté duale pour ceux et celles qui la voudraient.

    Donc, il s’agit d’une rupture civilisé selon la loi, dans une manière démocratique sans reproche.

    Autrement fait, c’est une révolution avec des conséquences graves pour les deux parties.

    Quand un couple se divorce, la cour doit régler les termes avec le consentement mutuels des parties, et manquant le consentement mutuel, il n’y aurait pas un décret octroyé par la cour.

    Heureusement jusqu’ici, le gouvernement du QC n’a jamais plaidé au gouvernement canadien pour un divorce officiel, un évenement qui devrait forcément mis devant la cour suprême canadienne.

    Il est possible un jour, bien sûr, mais ça ne serait pas bon, ni pour le Québec, ni pour le Canada. Nous restons donc ensemble avec notre dualité et ça n’est pas un grand malheur pour la plupart des Québecois, ou pour la plupart des ROC.

    ” Rien de rien … je ne regrette rien … (de mon amour)” Oui, c’est la chanson glorieuse de “la Môme” (Edith Piaf, et tu as vu sans doute La vie en rose, avec Marion Coutillard …


    May 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm

  11. I’m going to post a thought or so about the question of education.

    (I am sick beyond words with the next blog after this one on Nazis, nationalism, jewishness etc. so I am posting here until we get offered a new and better subject — that blog on Arcand which became an anti-semitic soap-box, is a catastrophe!!!!)

    Anhow returning to education, ABP has mentioned the great difficulty of maintaining competence in the 2nd language when you are not surrounded by speakers of that 2nd language that you can interact with.

    And this is 100% so totally true! That’s also why I seize any opportunity at work to speak French with anyone willing to engage, and there are surprising, several every day. I try to get them to subscribe to the French theatre in Toronto, which just got a very large bequest, so we are set to go for many years to come.

    C’mon down y’all pour des réprésentations théâtrales en français icitte à Toronto!

    Acajack has spoken to this problem of daily practice in the other language and I think Tancrède as well.

    TK has mentioned that 61% of francophones polled are in favour of language choice in choosing schools, and asked if MQC, that is to say AGF, has the balls to do a thread on this subject, which I am sure he does have the balls, but we can discuss it anyway even if he doesn’t.

    If 61 % of Francophones believe in freedom of choice, it doesn’t sound like they exactly believe it is time to pack it up with Canada either, although that is not at all an extrapolation one could make. But it does mean that they see the potential advantages of making 2nd language acquisition easier for their kids, realising also the economic realities.

    For example my own kids, went first to bilingual,but primarily French, programs in kindergarten and primary school, then 3 years of unilingual English, grades 5 to 8, and only because the 1st school was so bloody dysfunctional, and finally they went to public protestant francophone high school “College français de Toronto” where only English itself was taught in English, absolutely everything else in French.

    Of course, the subtext is that these students with either francophone language rights or from countries of the francophonie, or able to pass the French superintendant’s linguistic interview to get in, they all nonetheless were living in an anglophone city, so the English need pretty much took care of itself anyway, even if they spoke French, or frequently Chinese as was often the case, at home.

    Why the Chinese students? – well the College français offered the Baccalaureate International (BI) in French, while not mandatory at the school, it was nonetheless a big draw, and that pulled up the general excellence of the school as a whole.

    I have to exult in how well this turned out in the end, despite a tough challenge on the kids when we re-entered French from the unilingual English program that my kids were in for middle school.

    This whole question is such a huge issue for Québec, because here in Ontario, French is more of a luxury for anglo-speaking families who want their kids to have greater cultural experience, whereas in Québec it speaks greatly to future economic advantage.

    MDJ talks about when the English rise up and demand French education, … well a lot of
    ROC have already done that by enrolling their kids in immersion programs across the country. That doesn’t mean however that they would be able to follow Montreal street argot after graduating. And I’m not putting that down in any way, cuz it is fine to be hip in the ‘hood, but Haitien creole will never be an important international language, and modified 18th century pre-revolutionary devolved and subsequently evolved French won’t either. As Frère Untel observed about 50 years ago, there was a crying need for upgraded instruction in standard French in Québec at that time, and indeed it has largely taken place. Hallelujah! Once this standard French is mastered through school and through the media, then the colourful and fun banter amongst friends, adds a local cultural richness, which a lot of anglo speakers are doomed to miss out on, it is only natural to realise. Even English Montrealers educated in French may still have problems in comprehension, and it is important however not to dismiss the richness there.

    (But that does not provide a reason for the two linguistic communities to separate! The world is never going to beat a path to Québec’s door begging to master local streetwise Québec French so they can do business and augment prosperity for both sides of the equation. I mean I’m slowly getting at least some of the Québecicismes into my mind. “Tigidou”, my all time favorite from somewhere in the lower river or Saguenay region for example. What a delicious expression!

    Anyhow, the solution I’ll bet that the average francophone parent would like to see (based on TK’s 61% stat, and of course I look at ALL stats with a very jaundiced eye, but nonetheless…)

    1) Introduce a little simple and informal English in the last year of les garderies maybe 20% of daily activity.

    2) English in Grades 1 to 4 about 30% of curriculum in standard public Québec school day.

    By the way the school day in all of North America is way too short, and kids go home and watch way way too much TV.

    (I don’t really believe in a lot of homework — all that sort of thing should be largely completed in various study hall arrangements at school itself. Two working parents are the reality now-a-days whether good or bad. School should go from 8:15 til 4:30, in primary and til 5:15 thereafter. Dinner won’t likely be ready til 6:15 or so anyhow.)

    Offer further enrichment English opportunities to those who are willing to pay some fees for after school programs.

    3) Grades 5 -8 English 35% of the program. Vary the subjects taught in English from year to year, and teach grammar as a comparative English-French exploration.

    I never understood bugger all about the structure of English until I started to seriously study French. When I was in high school, grammar was a complete bore. I thought a gerund was probably like a taupe, a blind furry little animal that had an underground burrow as likely as not.

    I think comparative grammar properly taught, would improve writing and speaking skills in both languages and be much more interesting in showing the genius of each language, and developing an appreciation and a taste for languages, including heritage languages.

    Here there is some money spent on heritage language program, so in Québec that would be the road to trilingual status, and would be very appreciated by your allos.

    Grades 9 to 11 Perfect French written skills, and as for English just concentrate on oral skills without forcing too much spelling and grammar upon those ados! Then off to the CEGEPS etc. Ideally Grade 10, the year before the final year of secondary, should be an exchange year, 6 months spent with an anglo family in ROC or in West Island and 6 months for the anglo kid to live in a francophone family and study in a Québec French system high school.

    A huge societal problem: Kids don’t read enough! When you read you acquire language!

    Harry Potter did a lot of good around the world in many languages. It may not be great litterature, but it is a great read for kids. Imagination and magic are important. Anything in either system that gets kids reading is really important. Kids should be involved in making the decisions about books to be studied and discussed.

    Why won’t Ontario go ahead and do what I recommend happen in Quebec schools?

    1) It is not an economic imperative here… that is reality. You won’t find 61% of Ontarians ready to vote for that.

    2) I am not the premier of Ontario!

    Otherwise education, including French and bilingual education would be a huge societal priority. I would also hope for a boom economy so I wouldn’t be thrown out after a single term!

    Final word: Go ‘Habs go!

    (They were originally from Timmins, Ontario btw)


    May 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

  12. Je te remercie Bruce pour ton commentaire concernant le fait que j’écrive en francais, mais ce n’est pas une question de couilles :) En fait, je comprends la nécessité d’avoir ce blog en anglais. J’écrirais aussi et peut-etre surtout en anglais si j’en avais la compétence . Au début, j’ai essayé de le faire mais je me suis vite rendu compte de mes limites: c’est une chose d’écrire une courte phrase dans une autre langue mais quand vient le temps d’élaborer un peu, je m’enlise dans un anglais approximatif et difficilement compréhensible. Je ne suis pas du calibre requis pour converser ou débattre avec vous, comme on me l’a fait remarquer poliment: alors, comme AGF m’a laissé faire, j’ai décidé de continuer en francais: ca a au moins le mérite d’illustrer ce que disait Acajak a propos des francophones qui luttent pour améliorer leur anglais, mais qui se buttent a de grandes difficultés. J’ai l’intention de réessayer, car vous etes bon public, mais un dictionnaire ne peut remplacer ma méconnaissance de certaines expressions communément utilisées en anglais parlé ou écrit. Je dois parler anglais a mon travail et les anglos que je rencontre me comprennent, dans la mesure ou je m’en tiens et des phrases simples et que je parle lentement: ils sont gentils et comprennent mes limites. Je te reviens plus tard pour la substance, car il fait encore clair et midnightjack est perturbé par la lumiere du jour qui l”empeche de penser clairement.


    May 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm

  13. oups, je voulais dire AFG..Mes excuses


    May 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm

  14. “Don’t you know it is forbidden to talk about golf to a montrealer, as long as the habs are in the playoff?”

    OK, je vais souviens ce fait. Peut etre parle le golf apres le quatrieme match :):) Leurs ayant un mal match ce soir. Je souhaiter le match ce soire plus egale. Que plus interesser que le “blowout”. Je sens tres desole pour Halak. Il est beaucoupe mieux que il ete ce soire.


    May 16, 2010 at 9:55 pm

  15. @MDJ,

    “oups, (AGF vs. AFG) Voyons! C’est la faute du clavier lui-même! … pas besoin pour des excuses. Tu est vraiment un homme très poli!

    (D’ailleurs, moi, je l’appeler, comme tu sais, MQC…. Mec de Québec en colère.)

    As tu remarqué comment ABP a affiché trois messages d’affilé en français? Que de merveille!

    Oui, je sais bien de quoi tu explique à propos de la discussion plus profonde dans la deuxième langue, parce que j’ai aussi comme toi le même problème en revers.

    J’aime aussi l’aide de

    pour rechercher des expressions françaises, y en trouvant les pareilles. On peut y aller dans les deux directions, et c’est beaucoup plus efficace que de feuilleter le dictionnaire. Il y a là aussi de bonnes discussions dans les “forums”

    Le connais-tu ce siteweb utile et gratuit?

    Mais quand même j’aime lire tes pensées en français parce qu’elles sont bien formulées et intelligents même si je ne suis pas du tout d’accord avec le désir et les émois émotionels vers la séparation. De plus, je vois que tu te montres comme un homme raisonable dans les fils d’ici, pas de tout comme certains “enragés” plein des sentiments indignes.

    Désolé que les ‘Habs n’ont pas remporté le premier match, ce soir.

    À bientôt!


    May 16, 2010 at 11:06 pm

  16. “You should really stop speaking for all “non-francophones”.”

    (Here we go again)

    You’re right. I don’t have to speak for non-Francophones.

    Firstly, they speak for themselves. In polls, elections, and referendums. There was a poll last week on Bill 101. There was a municipal election in Montreal a few months ago. We can go further back, and you will find me no examples where immigrants and non-Francophones lent support to anything remotely separatist.

    Secondly, separatists notice this trend too (I highlighted the juicy parts):

    “Ma constatation par rapport à la fréquentation obligatoire du cégep francophone vient du fait que nos espoirs ont été déçus. C’est aussi simple et aussi triste que ça. Camille Laurin, René Lévesque et moi-même, à l’époque, pensions que si les enfants de nos compatriotes issus de l’immigration allaient aux mêmes écoles que nos enfants, ils iraient aux mêmes collèges. Mais nous nous sommes trompés.”

    Bernard Landry.

    His observations are correct. His ideas on how to deal with this “problem” are dreadful.


    May 16, 2010 at 11:17 pm

  17. littlerob!

    Oui, je me souviens de ton américanité pennsylvanienne.
    Donc je te félicite pour la victoire des Flyers ce soir.

    Triste pour moi bien sûr, et la plupart des Montréalais!

    Mais l’affaire n’est pas déja fini!
    Pas avant l’instant quand la grosse femme commencera chanter, et elle le fera, bien sûr, probablement après cinq jeux!

    Bon courage, donc!


    May 16, 2010 at 11:18 pm

  18. Noyb,

    It is true that most, not all allos want to go to English Colleges, because they need to absolutely master both languages,(in addition to their own.) Like english speaking Montrealers, they see themselves as Canadian first and foremost, and after that as Québecois, and they have no problems with this duality because Canada is a good country and Québec is a great place within that country. In addition to the anglos and the allos, there are a great number of québécois de souche qui aime aussi cette dualité.
    C’est donc la coalition de “Non” à la séparation.

    Bon courage. C’est le statut quotidien. Tout change et rien change. C’est normale!


    May 16, 2010 at 11:34 pm

  19. MDJ,

    Besides, your English is a lot better than my French. Your English is excellent in point of fact.

    Just because Acajack’s is absolutely perfect doesn’t mean you need to feel insecure about your insightful contributions. This blog doesn’t need to be all advanced metaphysics, and literary analysis after all.

    I know full well I make lots of typos and text errors here in English, let alone French, yet no one outside of Edward – that effete emigré des états-unis – ever bothers to call these things, and only then in sly jest.

    I don’t give a hoot if a franco says “fighted” instead of “fought”. Big deal. Every language has some irregular verb forms. Prepositions are the biggest killer for me in French… I always get them wrong! (But I don’t feel too guilty, someday I’ll possibly improve!)
    It is statistics, (not spelling or past participles or even the most nuanced word,) that everyone here wants to go through the entrails in their driven search for eternal truth!

    Peu importe! On peut afficher dans une langue ou l’autre comme il convient, ou les deux au même temps. Si l’on veut changer le cheval au milieu du fleuve, pour mieux communiquer les nuances, pourquoi pas? La plupart des gens participant ici, soit anglophone, soit francophone, peut comprendre le français écrit.

    Quant aux “trolls” anglais d’ici, nous devrions nous en fouter complètement d’eux pour toujours. Et les trolls français? À mon avis un troll reste un troll, probablement pour toute l’éternité. C’est a cause de leur infirmité cérébrale, en effet, si pitoyable.
    Mais, dans un autre sens, ce n’est pas exactement notre propre affaire … il y a après tout des hôpitals psychiatriques!

    Je te souhaite un bonne nuit après minuit, Jacques!


    May 17, 2010 at 12:09 am

  20. Tancrède,

    J’ai oublié de te souhaiter une bonne nuit après la perte catastrophique du match!

    Après j’ai lu “L’abominable feuille d’érable” de Roch Carrier je suis devenue une adepte des ‘Habs, la plus grande marque, la plus grande franchise dans l’histoire du hockey. Va les Habs!

    Bonne chance, donc et dorme bien.

    Aussi pour MQC, dorme bien, mais il faut un nouveau forum tantôt! Por favor senor!


    May 17, 2010 at 12:25 am

  21. “Could be ACJ, but they grew up from an early age exposed to both languages, didn’t they. Not the case for many in the maritimes and western Canada. Il n’y pas francais dans l’ouest, comme tu sais bien.
    Yes, exposed to both by either family or the geographical area where exposure to both languages was clearly evident.
    Well, the problem is that it is clearly an advantage for the french to learn english as it is a benefit for a number of reasons and mostly due to numbers. The vice versa is just not an issue in a predominately anglo NA. Simply a matter of numbers and benefits derived. So to say you are not sympathetic to anglos in Western Canada who don’t learn of practice french is quite ridiculous. It would make absolutely no difference in their day to day lives and the benefits are of nothing, unless they wish to work in the federal civil service where the french is mandated. Another make work project for the Quebecois, by the way, as Brian Crowley clearly evidenced in his latest best selling book.”

    Sorry ABP, but I have a lot issues with many of the above statements.

    I have already proven to you that *most* francophones are not exposed to both languages from an early age. Most francophones live in totally francophone environments, or at least in environments that allow them to function in French almost all of the time. I even used the example of a judge who sits on the Supreme Court of Canada to illustrate my point!

    You say that it is clearly more advantageous for francophones to learn English that the other way around, and you say it is a matter of numbers. But numbers of people speaking English 2000 km, 200 km or even 20 km away matter little if you live in a 99% francophone environment where society is structured in French. English is no more useful to a high school principal in Gatineau or the regional director of caisse populaire branches in Laval or Brossard than French is to someone in Ontario or Saskatoon. All a francophone needs to know is a few basic English phrases to fill up the car with gas and order food for the drive down to Florida or Old Orchard Beach, Maine. And when they get to their destination, they can often get by with French just fine if they hang out in the right places.

    So unless English is seen as a magical key that allows you more easily decipher Lady Gaga’s lyrics or watch Avatar or My Name Is Earl without the dubbing, I don’t see the (professional at least) tremendous advantage of knowing English for *most* workers in Quebec.

    Despite all the talk about globalization, only a small percentage of jobs out there involve international transactions (that would likely take place in English). The vast majority of jobs are locally-based, and take place in the local language: teachers, nurses, doctors, real estate agents, lawyers, bankers, pharmacists, etc. Even people who work for foreign-owned companies or companies where head office operates in another language tend to work in the local language. Bombardier doesn’t impose French on its workers in Thunder Bay, Ontario, for example. Ford doesn’t impose English on workers at its plant in Romania.

    I will not dispute that English is a lot more useful than French in the Canadian and North American contexts. This explains *part* of the discrepancy between bilingualism among francophones (around 40%) and anglophones (around 8%). But it is not the only factor, and many many francophones in Quebec who really have no practical use for English can speak it reasonably well, whereas many anglophones who would perhaps have a lot of use for French (Anglo-Quebecers, federal public servants, aspiring Supreme Court judges, service staff in Ottawa stores, long-time Montreal Canadiens players, etc.) have never learned/will never learn/have no interest in learning French.

    Perhaps it is that many more francophones have come to terms with the fact that they live in a place where there are many anglophones not far away, whereas many anglophones deep down have issues with the presence of francophones and, especially, with the legitimacy of the French language in this part of the world.

    Just a thought.


    May 17, 2010 at 9:25 am

  22. @NYOB

    “There was a poll last week on Bill 101. There was a municipal election in Montreal a few months ago. We can go further back, and you will find me no examples where immigrants and non-Francophones lent support to anything remotely separatist.”

    Hum… What I see is that despite Mayor Tremblay’s despicable decision to play the race card to get his nearly all-white team elected, 58% of Montrealers voted for Louise Harel and Richard Bergeron, both at some point associated with the “separatist”. Fail.

    “Ma constatation par rapport à la fréquentation obligatoire du cégep francophone vient du fait que nos espoirs ont été déçus.”

    Bernie might be disapointed, but a majority of “allophones” still choose to go to French CEGEP. re-Fail.

    (Hint: There are other websites besides the Montreal Gazette letter to the editor section. They contain something called information. Check it out.)


    May 17, 2010 at 11:58 am

  23. ACJ,

    Ton affiche était bon jusqu’ici:

    “…whereas many anglophones deep down have issues with the presence of francophones and, especially, with the legitimacy of the French language in this part of the world.”

    Tu fais référence à Montréal sans doute. Mais c’est très speculatif de se plonger dans les profondeurs d’un autre âme et d’y extrapler un stéréotype comme ça. Nous ne devrions pas oublier que les anglophones de Montréal, face à leur statut minoritaire là se sentent un peu ménacés, même par 101, comme nous voyons ici. Et leur fuite environs la décennie 1970’s fait preuve de leurs craintes p-ê un peu paranoïques.

    C’est la même crainte chez quelques-uns des francos de Montréal. Donc ces faits ne sont pas des évidences d’un mépris général parmi les anglos vers les francos. Il y aura toujours des nuque-rouges dans les deux populations.

    Geck et Gébé par exemple.


    May 17, 2010 at 1:27 pm

  24. “Hint: There are other websites besides the Montreal Gazette letter to the editor section. They contain something called information. Check it out.“

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll check it out.

    “Bernie might be disapointed, but a majority of “allophones” still choose to go to French CEGEP.”

    We can dick around all we want here, but at the end of the day, we must decide what is and what isn’t.

    So either Curzi, Landry, Canstonguay, Marois, Beulieu, Perrault et al. are full of crap, or you are.

    It can be one or the other.

    But I have a suspicion that you will once again take us into the realm of separatist contradictions where the “we are both” logic reigns. The world in which “we are a minority-we need to protect ourselves”/“we are a majority-do was we tell you”, “Bill 101 is a success-I see immigrant kids speaking French in Cote-des-Neiges/Bill 101 is a failure-the ROC Anglos are re-invading Montreal”, “The Gazette is lying to you #234/The Gazette is credible when it comes to FACTS”, “The Anglos are a 10% minority-they should shape up and assimilate/The Anglos shouldn’t play the victim-they are in fact a majority connected by a half an hour drive from the rest of their brethren,” French language is doing great”/”French language is in danger”).

    What is the point of these meanderings, may I ask?


    May 17, 2010 at 1:37 pm

  25. “Geck et Gébé par exemple.”

    Except that Gébé Tremblay, as do most anglophobes, can and does write in English. Canada’s francophobes, with extremely few exceptions, are unilingual English.

    Even the haters from both sides are totally different in this respect!

    Bruce, I am not saying that everyone is like this (and you are perfect example of the minority of Anglo-Canadians who do make the effort – it is always refreshing to meet people like you), but for the vast majority of people it is as if the francophone element of the country is something they prefer to not think about. It is like an artificial, temporary inconvenience that they think will eventually go away.


    May 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm

  26. Bruce: “Tu fais référence à Montréal sans doute.”

    It is especially galling to some people when you are exposed to this attitude in Montreal, but in fact, it exists all over Canada, to be quite honest.

    From the 25-year-old unilingual Ottawa native born two decades after the passage of the Official Languages Act who is all bitter and francophobic because his options in the federal public service because he never learned French, to the nice people in the ROC who occasionally ask my family what language we are speaking, and when we answer French, ask us if we are from France!

    In the meantime, you have people like Supreme Court judge Louis Lebel from Quebec City who, to support his lofty career ambitions I suppose, enrolled at the U of T in the 1960s in order to have at least a bit of English under his belt, lest it come in handy one day. Turns out it did.


    May 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

  27. “So either Curzi, Landry, Canstonguay, Marois, Beulieu, Perrault et al. are full of crap, or you are.

    It can be one or the other.”

    Or how about it IS both?

    How about some sovereingtists will be unsatisfied until all immigrants go French university AND some think that, considering the formidable odds facing Québec, we can celebrate our successes? How about Immigration is generally a good thing for the future of French in North America AND English is gaining ground in Montreal because of other factors? How about someone having all the facts AND coming to the wrong conclusion (the history of science…), how about English Montreal HAS learned French (which is good), yet its parallel network of institutions perpetuate the separation of French and English societies (which is bad). How about some Québécois think we are doing OK, some think the end is upon us?

    How about we are not the single, one-mind, ethnically pure tribe that your media tries so hard to portray us as, BUT a collection of individuals of varied opinions, origins and perspectives who happen to live in Québec and participate in French language culture?


    May 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm

  28. “Or how about it IS both?”

    You won’t weasel out of this one that easy. If you are correct, you must say that they are wrong. If they are right, then you must admit that you are wrong. This is not a disagreement over the last Canadiens game at your local depanneur where we can all agree to disagree. This is much more serious – it has to do with politics and laws that influence people’s rights to choose. So if your people institute (or advocate) certain legal measures to curb certain trends, you can’t just come up to me and claim that the trends that the laws are meant to curb are not real. If you claim that the trends are not real, you must then admit that the law that was passed (or is about to be stepped up) is wrong. You can’t support restrictions on immigrants’ choices and still claim to have them on your side. If you do have them on your side, why do you restrict their choices?

    “How about we are not the single, one-mind,”

    The plurality of opinion within a movement or a demographic group is less of an issue (it’s actually good in this case – the more divided you are, the less damage you’ll do), and it wasn’t what I was referring to in this particular case anyways. A bigger issue is the lack of one mind in one individual. The things that I cited, about The Gazette, Anglophones, Francophones, Bill 101, came not from some separatists, they came from one particular separatist. So my question was directed to you, not to your people in general. So let me ask again: what is the point of these meanderings?


    May 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm

  29. “I have already proven to you that *most* francophones are not exposed to both languages from an early age”

    Montreal Radio Stations

    French 11
    English 14

    TV (off air)

    French 5
    English 11 (includes some American Channels)

    Newspapers and weeklies around Montreal:

    French 41

    English 31

    Channel surf up from Channel 2 on your cable system and count the amount of english channels available as opposed to french.

    Now, in Calgary.


    English 18

    French (two, SRC and CBC French )


    English: 6

    French : 1 (SRC)

    Newpapers and Weeklies:

    English: 7

    French: Couldn’t find any.

    The above is no way an authorative or totally accurate list, but clearly shows that at least in Montreal which makes up nearly 50% of the population of Quebec are exposed to a great deal of english. There is not doubt that in Trois Rivieres there is much less exposure to anglo media. But, facts indicate over 50% of the population of Quebec is exposed to english on a regular basis (likely higher) How many anglos in Calgary are exposed to French on a regular basis?

    Now be real ACJ, the populace of NA is overwhelmingly anglo, not french. This, in itself, provides much exposure from video games to movies which are released in english only in many cases with the french versions following some time later.

    “This explains *part* of the discrepancy between bilingualism among francophones (around 40%) and anglophones (around 8%). But it is not the only factor, and many many francophones in Quebec who really have no practical use for English can speak it reasonably well”

    A matter of exposure and need as your figures obviously indicate. I suspect if the shoe was on the other foot that very few francos would learn english if there wasn’t any advantage. (Assuming English the minority language in NA) As you say, you have seen your relatives(friends) struggle with learning english. If it was so hard and of no value why did they do it?, if not for a purpose.

    ” whereas many anglophones who would perhaps have a lot of use for French (Anglo-Quebecers, federal public servants, aspiring Supreme Court judges, service staff in Ottawa stores, long-time Montreal Canadiens players, etc.) have never learned/will never learn/have no interest in learning French”

    Why, They don’t see any instrinsic value to learning the language. Not that they particularily dislike the french, it is an attitude of total ambivilance.

    “many anglophones deep down have issues with the presence of francophones and, especially, with the legitimacy of the French language in this part of the world.”

    ACJ, they (many) don’t really care or think about it a great deal. Of course, when they hear for instance, about equalization payments to Quebec, in Western Canada or about the bilingualism bill for Supreme Court justices they simply equate the french with Quebec and form a negative opinion (read broadbrushing).

    Not all but a great many.


    May 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

  30. Noyb & AFG,

    C’est une catharse Montréalaise entre vous-mêmes qui ne touche des gens de ROC que indirectement. Mais il y a sûrement d’autres tirés des deux côtés anglo et franco à Montréal, dans la ville, qui ne participent pas dans ce type de rancoeur tout à fait inutile.

    “how about English Montreal HAS learned French (which is good), yet its parallel network of institutions perpetuate the separation of French and English societies (which is bad)..[…]

    How about we are not the single, one-mind, ethnically pure tribe that your media … [ MY INSERT: read here, the Montreal Gazette, because the Globe is pretty balanced and low key about Quebec] … tries so hard to portray us as, BUT a collection of individuals of varied opinions, origins and perspectives who happen to live in Québec and participate in French language culture?”

    People who “think” in ROC, not the politicos, not the sheep, not the rabble, the unsound, the marginalised etc. but the minority of anglo society who actually think in a rational, and national and global way DO think of Quebecers in this manner.
    Don’t forget that a majority of Ontarians voted yes to Meech lake.

    Acajack should also remember that.

    These are the people who took the trouble to think through the question and actually take the trouble to go vote.

    As for the other provinces, well they were not around at the time of Confederation, and they are too far removed to visit Quebec very much or to understand too well, so for them it was more about the West wants in, wants influence, wants power, and no one gets special treatment etc.

    Although Noyb is ticked about 101 he also allows it doesn’t really affect him particularly.

    Also what is this white thing –voting white — is this 1970 nuit blanche avec Michel Lalonde or something? Last time I looked at Québec TV, the old stock French looked pretty white to me. Louise Harel and Richard Bergeron look pretty white to me. Are only anglos “white”, the only real ” whiteys” of the world? C’mon now!

    Educated Haitiens who speak standard French could be supporting the Harel/Bergeron “non white” campaigns, and I don’t know how they voted, but 42% tends to win in a 3 way race, unless there is a run-off, which there was not, so no one knows how that might have panned out.

    Could it be that Democracy is good if your candidate prevails, but maybe you see it as “bad” if the other candidate wins?

    And why would a bilingual city elect a unilingual mayor, who is closely allied with those like Parizeau and Landry who keep dissing the allos in high profile political pronouncements after every big “diss”appointment.

    The allos are the lowest paid people, the hardest working, the most exploited, and it is not lost on them that they are being publicly rebuked and reviled, that there are other opportunities within Canada elsewhere, even if they will still be allos by some other name over here. Dumping all over them is never a good plan! Forcing their kids into French only post-secondary institutions will only encourage many of them to pack up and leave. You know it, and Bernard Landry realises it as well.

    Acajack has written that Gébé, full of venom and anti-semitism at least has the balls to post in English, … well bully for him, the little anglo and Jew hater!

    And anglos such as Geck for instance don’t have the couilles to post in French “to express their francophobia”

    Well if they are so francophobic, why would they ever want to, since they didn’t learn French anyway in the first place, and didn’t need it for a job in Saskatchewan or Ontario.

    It is really only the non-ideological people oriented “thinkers” in society that discuss policy and institutions and guide change. It is only when a fair minded and rational thinker is dissing you that there should be thought process as to why that should be.

    And pray tell why should the thinkers of ROC be all obsessed by the insecurities of some francophones who either choose, or can’t help feeling that way.

    As for integrating all the institutions of Montréal as bilingual well you could work towards that ideal which could perhaps come about in about a generation of generous dialogue on both sides, rather than an “angry” dialogue.

    The problem with this blog in my opinion is the “angry” aspect. Maybe it helps to vent, but I get the feeling that it is a war of statistics and *proofs* and that neither side is listening much to the other. A lot of jousting — perhaps fun, but hardly transformative.

    What about constructive proposals complete with some concessions on either side, a brainstorming of how to make things better and keep both linguistic groups reasonably happy that they live together in a fabulous city with such incredible potential beyond what it is now.

    As for “Montréal s’anglicise” …well make some babies, speak to them in French, Don’t move to the suburbs when you are doing well – stay in Montréal, get friends from various language groups, don’t have a heart attack if some bozo guy talks in English at the depanneur in the Plateau, (maybe a tourist) and start to enjoy life as a glass at least half full rather than three fourths empty.

    And don’t whine about the allos and their children, how they are letting Québec down!

    They have their own enormous struggles to deal with, plus they are making life physically more pleasant for the francophone elite by doing all the mundane jobs. They are there in the same downtrodden shoes that Gaston Miron lamented his compatriotes had to wear in that time, now past. But you put impossible coercions upon their kids, and like Sammy Sugar they are going to wind up trilingual while francophones are perhaps going to be compelled to become unilingual. And then lose out because of it.

    French is not on any kind of decline outside of Montréal, and Montréal is the successful laboratory where any franco can acquire English, at the same time as your more ideological compatriotes are hoping like gébé to “kick english canada out of Québec”

    Those of you who are ideological who can speak English do that to anglos who want to shyly work on their French skills with you, or mow them down in machine gun French, or just perhaps walk away. Kids in neighbourhoods don’t have these hang-ups. Perhaps it is time for you guys to “grow down” before re-growing up!

    The other day an anglo patient in my office here in Guelph heard me talking to someone in French, born in Quebec etc, and he called out in French also and was clearly understanding. Turns out he was born and raised in Point St. Charles and picked up French from the neighbouring kids in Verdun. There was no rancoeur amongst these kids, got along great in both languages despite being amongst the most deprived in the city. Today he is a stone mason here, and is reflective and a “thinker” despite an appalling history of being raised in a series of foster homes, resented by his own parents and not well treated in the various foster homes where he was “extra money” fundamentally. His life back then was the other kids franco and anglo of the neighbourhood.

    Anyhow that was before militancy and “cultural” wars.

    Bonne nuit


    May 17, 2010 at 8:08 pm

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