AngryFrenchGuy

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Allophone is a French Word

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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

It’s an English-speaking World Out There – The Quiz!

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Vodpod videos no longer available.
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April 19, 2010 at 1:00 am

Michel Chartrand 1916 – 2010 Canada had Trudeau. We had a real man.

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February 16th 1971. Union leader Michel Chartrand, imprisoned without cause like hundreds of other innocents during the October Crisis, gets out of Parthenais Jail.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

April 13, 2010 at 11:19 am

The Myth of Montreal’s Bilingual Hospitals

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Dying generally sucks, but you do get a few perks: things like a 24h VIP direct line to a nurse you can call when weird things start happening to your mother’s cancer-ridden body.

The thing is, at night the system is rigged up so that you have to go through the Montreal General Hospital’s internal operator to get to the nurse.  Not the public operator used to communicating with the taxpaying public.  The internal switchboard lady.

Dispatch.  What service?

This being one of Montreal’s  “bilingual” hospital, in-house communications are in English.  It takes a few seconds for the operator to switch gears into French and a little bit longer for her to figure out French acronyms and terminology.

Selles?  Selles?  Shit!  What are selles?

Eventually I get the nurse on the phone.  The situation I’m describing is kind of gross and she recommends I take my mom to the emergency.

My mother used to be a patient of the Montreal Neurological Hospital’s Docteur Olivier, the French-speaking successor to the legendary Dr. Wilder Penfield who revolutionized brain science, and the living proof that Montreal’s English hospitals are, according to the Montreal Gazette, nothing but a “mischievous myth”.

“There are French ones and there are bilingual ones”, they explained after former Québec Prime Minister Jacques Parizeau was admitted to the Jewish General Hospital last week.  “Parizeau is getting that care in French – or, at least he is if that’s what he wants. Parizeau’s English is so fluently mellifluous he might just choose to use it.”

While I’m sure the staff at the Jewish will avoid the diplomatic faux pas of addressing Monsieur Parizeau in English, those of us who haven’t managed to come as close to breaking up Canada don’t quite receive the same level of consideration.

When my mother’s name was moved from the interesting cases list to the basket cases list, Dr. Olivier passed her file on to a Czech doctor who didn’t speak a word of French.  He greeted every patient in the clinic hallway with a single question:

Do you speak English?

Only about 40% of patients in Montreal’s bilingual hospitals are English-speaking so the doctor spent the first ten minutes of every second consultation sighing loudly as he fished around for an idle nurse, orderly or first year student who could translate his patients for him.  I got on his good side by setting aside my modest expectation that in 2009 my mother was entitled to receive health care in French in Québec.

The Neuro doesn’t have an emergency ward so that night I take her across the street to the Royal Victoria Hospital, named for the glorious British Queen who spoke German, English, French and Hindustani.  A doctor walks into our examining room wearing a hijab.  This is English Montreal, a tolerant, multicultural community where people value and respect each others cultures…

Do you speak English?

Non.

Really? Are you sure?

The doctor tells me that she can take a look at my mother now or that we can wait.  Mother’s been writhing in pain for about seven hours now, so I take her hand and tell her softly that it’s her turn to be bilingual.

Because my family refuses to live in Saguenay or Rosemont where we belong, we, like 1.7 million Québécois from Côte-des-Neiges to Val-d’Or — people like Jacques Parizeau, Yves Michaud, Pauline Marois, Éric Lapointe and the AngryFrenchMe — have been designated as wards of the McGill University Hospital Center.

Every single word of every single medical file of every single member of my family is written entirely in English.

Twenty-five percent of the province of Québec’s health care is administered by a medical establishment that doesn’t require it’s doctors to learn a single word of the language spoken by the majority of their patients.  The Charest government just gave McGill 3.6 billion dollars, half of the tax dollars earmarked for the construction of two university hospitals in Montréal.

No need to worry, according to The Gazette.  For that price they’ll even care for separatists.  Me and my mom’s can be assured that Montreal’s bilingual hospitals “are open to all, regardless of language, creed, ethnicity, or political conviction.”

The day shift doctor who showed up in the morning didn’t speak French either.  I don’t speak French I’m from Brazil, he told me, almost proud of himself.

I made him speak to me in Spanish.  He got the point and dropped the grin.

(Now let’s have a moment of silence for the millions of Mexican-Americans who don’t have access to health care in their own language.  Aren’t you just fucking proud to be Canadian right now?)

That night was a hard one, but it wasn’t the toughest yet.  I spent many other long nights at the Royal Vic and the Montreal General Hospital with my mother.  Tired, scared and confused by the quick succession of unfamiliar faces coming and going around her, my mother started to speak to me in English in those last few weeks of her life.

My father had started to do the same thing in the last days of his life.  So did my grand-mother.  So did my grand-father.

Anyone still wondering why I’m angry?

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Written by angryfrenchguy

April 12, 2010 at 7:00 am

Gilles Duceppe’s Separatist World (…ok, Canadian) Tour

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In his excellent biography of Pierre Bourgault, journalist Jean-François Nadeau tells the fascinating story of the gay veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who lived with a pet kangaroo in his Shaughnessy village house near the old Forum and became an indépendantiste pioneer. In his book, Nadeau also recalls the separatist firebrand’s long forgotten tour of the Canadian West, early in his career.

Way back in the day, before paying lip-service to Canada’s “bilingual” nature became a litmus test of canadianess, Bourgault toured the Prairies to explain the idea of an independent Québec to hostile crowds of Westerners who had no sympathy for any “French power” or “Québec Libre” nonsense and who basically were going out to see a freak show.

According to Nadeau, Bourgault usually left the room to standing ovations.

This week the Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe launched his own Canadian Tour, but Québec’s independence is not the radical idea it once was.  The idea that with Québec out, Canada will be more a more united and nimble country has much greater acceptance today than it did when Bourgault spelled it out to his unsuspecting audiences of farmers and cattle ranchers.

And Canada has changed too, since Bourgault’s time.  Like the Prime Minister’s muse, Tom Flanagan, is quoted as saying in the Globe and Mail: “In the West, it’s a yawner, whether Quebec is in or out”.

Duceppe is one of the longest-serving members of the House of Commons, a familiar face to all Canadians and, even if bashing separatists who collect a federal salary is always a good for a few votes in te ROC, most people in Ottawa recognize the Bloquistes are kickass parliamentarians.

It’s hard to see what Duceppe will accomplish with this tour, or even who would come out to hear him.

One useful thing Duceppe could do, if he was so inclined, is reach out the Canadian left and see if  his sovereigntists comrade Amir Khadir‘s suggestion that the Bloc and the NDP work out some sort of  formal alliance has any legs.

Why, not?  If the Bloc is in Ottawa for the long run, there is not fundamental reason why it couldn’t form a united opposition with the NDP, with a common social platform and separate constitutional planks.

Damn, I could even make a case that it could form a government with the New Democrats, deferring it’s votes on any constitutional or federal-provincial issue to Québec’s National Assembly, achieving a kind of sovereignty-association without changing a coma in the Constitution.

I’m not holding my breath.  Big ideas are hard to sell in the age or micro-targeting.  It would be surprising if anything inspiring or novel came out of Duceppe’s voyage.

Now I’m not saying Duceppe is a boring politician of that he doesn’t have any good ideas.  He’s certainly one of my top 5 separatists.

I’m just saying he looks more like a dog man than a kangaroo type of guy.

Written by angryfrenchguy

April 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Drunken Anglo-Canadian Mob Beats up One of Their Own: Kevin Parent

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Québec signer Kevin Parent, the all-time best-selling artists in Québec music history after Céline Dion, was beat up by a mob of drunken tourists a couple of night ago while out on the town in Québec City.

The singer suffered a concussion and says he remembers nothing of the incident, but bystanders report the attackers were drunken English-speaking tourists.

As if the apparently xenophobic attack was not pathetic enough, Kevin Parent is himself an Anglo.  The morons beat up one of their own.

“This incident made me understand the rage of the oppressed Québec francophone who is pissed on in his own city, in his capital, during his own carnival…”, declared Parent in a press conference on Tuesday.

“I spent years building a bridge between French and English.  I spent years going to the Junos to say that the Québécois are cool and going to the [French-language music award ceremony] l’ADISQ to say that Anglophones are not all boring and are good people…”

Essentially famous for his French-language albums, Kevin Parent’s mother tongue is English.  Just like Mary Travers, a.k.a. La Bolduc, who became Québec’s first ever popstar during the Depression, Kevin Parent is a Anglo from the maritime region of Gaspésie who made records in French.

In a move that says a lot about the impressive vitality of Québec’s music scene, in 2007 Parent reportedly had to leave his record label, Tacca records–ironically run by fellow Anglo Donald K. Tarlton–and join Audiogram to finally record his first English language album.

The incident is reminiscent of another in 1997 when Québec legend Serge Fiori, frontman of Harmonium, was also allegedly attacked by four drunken English-speaking women in Montreal.  The women were later acquitted.

Although Fiori and Harmonium are closely associated with the  Québec nationalism of the 1970’s, he declared in a 2007 interview with Richard Martineau that he “functions a lot in English, writes in English”, and even seriously considered starting over, in California, in English, under another name when fame back home became to much to bear.

Anglo on Anglo xenophobic violence…  The English-canadian press is reportedly brainstorming ways to blame the attacks on the separatists…

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 23, 2010 at 6:04 pm

There is plenty of French at the Vancouver Olympics

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Walking around downtown Vancouver yesterday I was thinking many things.  I was thinking it just might be Canada’s most beautiful city.  I was asking myslef if Vancouver was the first city to hold the Winter Olympics in the middle of summer.  I was thinking that if I was a crackhead I would also prefer to live in Vancouver than, say, Thunder Bay.   I also thought about Pamela Anderson a lot, but the fact that she is from Vancouver was only a pretext.

One thing I wasn’t thinking is : “This is a bilingual city.”

Montréal’s federalist media, Québec’s Premier Jean Charest, the Liberal Party of Canada’s Denis Coderre, the federal commissioner for official languages Graham Fraser, the Heritage minister James Moore are pissed off at Vancouver for not appropriately showcasing Canada only officially approved branding as a billingual/multicultural country during last Friday’s opening ceremonies.

“I am so proud to be a Canadian! It is with great pride that I realized that the organizers of the Vancouver Olympics truly understand the real Canada!”, wrote Réjean Tremblay–in English!–in La Presse. “I am so proud that I had to put some of my emotions in writing in this country’s “superior language” so that the bosses at VANOC would be proud of me.”

See…  I don’t get that.

God forbid Vancouver should present itself to the world as what it is:  one of the great Pacific cities like Singapore and Hong Kong and San Francisco, born of the fateful meeting of Asia and Great-Britain, of wandering Brits, Punjabis, Cantoneses, Hans, Scots and Malays.  A city where English is the common language.

Why do Canadians always feel the need to pretend we’re all living in northern Ontario, hunting moose and speaking bilingual under four feet of snow?  Over two thirds of Canadians live on the Pacific Coast and in the Great Lakes area!  French and snowstorms are as foreign to the culture of Canadians in Vancouver and Toronto as bullfighting yet English Canadians always seem obligated  to pretend they’re living in Kapuskasing!

You hear French all the time in Vancouver.  Walking the city yesterday I heard French spoken by squeegee punks on Granville and very chic Haitian ladies on the waterfront.  Some fluently French-speaking Anglo hipster on Commercial was able to explain to me how to purchase a six-pack.  I even talked French with a Sécurité du Québec police officer on loan to the RCMP.

But I also heard just as much Japanese, Cantonese and Punjabi.  I also heard kids who’s roots could have been anywhere in the world speaking English to each other.  That’s what Vancouver is:  a multicoloured (the concept incorrectly expressed as multicultural in Canadian English) city where people are educated and work in the commonly agreed upon language of English.

Kind of like the society the people of Québec have been trying to build for the last 40 years, except that because it’s being done in English instead of French, British-Columbia it is considered “normal”…

Vancouver is an English-speaking City and its Olympic Games and cermonies reflect that fact.  If anything, it’s the Asian aspect of BC culture that is absent from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic branding, not the French language.

Now, let’s just hope that if and when Québec City get’s to host it’s own Olympic games in 2022, the French language will be as visible as English in Vancouver…

Written by angryfrenchguy

February 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm