Wednesday, May 5, 2010

French vs. English Volume 11

Slim Pickings For Language Zealots
One of Quebec's most successful retailers DOLLARAMA finally launched a website, although I'm not sure what for, it's not like they're going to announce a sale or something, but no matter.

The company rushed the launch to coincide with corporate meetings announcing a surge in profits. Unfortunately the French version wasn't quite finished and a note on the site indicated that the French version would be launched within two weeks.

To the barricades!!! French language militants flooded the OQLF (the language police) with complaints pointing out that the company was violating the law that demands that Quebec companies have French web sites.

Reaction of the OQLF?...  Gimme a break......

French singer disses the French language.
On a recent edition of the Radio-Canada talk show Tout le Monde en Parle two interesting guests were queried about their roots to the French language.- French singer/actress Charlotte Gainsbourg was in town for a singing gig and made an appearance on the Radio-Canada Sunday night talk show. The show's sovereignist host, Guy A. Lepage, ever obsessed with the French language asked her why she chose to sing mostly in English. Without batting an eye or attempting to give the weakest politically correct answer, the ex-ingénue commented that she found French inconvenient and difficult language to work in. Ouch!!!!! A shocked host quickly changed subjects....What the boys on the show may not know is that while she appears to be a red-blooded Francophone, she is in reality, a closet Anglophone, having been educated in English.
A second guest was none other than Montreal comedian Sugar Sammy ( Sam Khullar) a product of an immigrant Indian family. Of course that meant that he was forced into a the French education system despite the fact that his parents spoke English. He has, like so many other under those same circumstances become a bone fide Anglo, who is devastatingly funny in both English and French. I'm surprised that they had him on the show because he is the poster boy of what French language militants fear the worst, an immigrant turned Anglo. Arrghhh... He was quite funny, said Bill 101 sucks and even did a great impression of a Haitian hockey commentator. A funny interview, once again for the separatist panel members.

Language cops target sex store.
Boutique Séduction a Montreal North sex store, has been ordered by a Quebec Court judge to pay $500 for selling an item called "Sleeve Super Stretch" whose packaging was in English only.
In a 10-page ruling, Judge Gilles Michaud  said, it’s important for consumers to be able to understand written instructions on the items they buy. Link

Should the "The UPS Store"be "La Magasin SCU"
The ubiquitous Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste held a 'massive' demonstration of one hundred twelve militants in front of a Repentigny UPS store protesting that the name of the establishment is in English. The Francophone master franchisee who has no control over the registered trademark was treated to assorted insults in a letter accusing him of disrespecting francophone Quebeckers. The fact that the business is run completely in French is decidedly beside the point and a spokesman for the SSJB warned of a boycott.

More French Language & Sovereignist Groups
It seems that every few days a new organization or group is created either to defend the French language or promote sovereignty.
This week's entrants, a new political party named the Quebec Renouveau received a lukewarm reception, even from sovereignists who complained that a new political party would go even farther in splitting the sovereignist vote. One person commented that the party's new logo look like it belongs on a tub of BECEL butter!

If you think that there aren't enough organizations out there defending the French language you'd probably be in agreement with members of these groups who gathered to welcome a new entrant into the club.
Le Mouvement Montréal français 
Forum jeunesse du Bloc québécois
Comité national des jeunes du Parti québécois
Mouvement étudiant pour le français de l’Université de Montréal
Mouvement étudiant pour le français de l’UQAM
Conseil jeunesse de la SSJBM
Comité souverainiste de l’UQAM
Mouvement des étudiants souverainistes de l’Université de Montréal
Jeunes patriotes du Québec
Mouvement pacifique pour l’indépendance du Québec
Réseau de Résistance du Québécois

All these groups were supposedly represented at the Club Soda last week to welcome aboard the latest entrant, the  Mouvement des cégépiens pour le français.
The announced attendance of 300 probably meant that about 150 showed up and that was with free entertainment and refreshments....Ugh....

Union Complains about too little French Representation
The Syndicat des Communications de Radio-Canada, the union that represents Francophones workers of the the CBC in Quebec and New Brunswick, is complaining about the marginalization of Francophones on the Board of Directors of the CBC. With the naming of Torontonian Edward W. Boyd to the board, Francophones are reduced to just 3 members out of the eleven positions (27%). The union wants to see a return to the good old days where Francophone representation on the national board reached as high as 42%. After all, fair is fair. LINK

Black-Eyed Peas Unwelcome in Quebec City
It seems that some French language militants are furious that Anglophone groups will be headlining this summer's Festival d'été de Québec (Quebec Summer Festival.) Complaining in a letter to LE SOLEIL , a certain Yvan Giguère says that it is a travesty that more Quebec artists aren't being presented instead of groups like The Black-Eyed Peas and Iron Maiden. Trouble is, the only way to make the festival pay is to bring in artists that sell. You'll remember this same argument occurred over Paul McCartney's concert in Quebec that drew over 300,000 people. Come to think of it, maybe not everyone in Quebec thinks it a bad idea to go to a concert featuring some of the world's best talent!


  1. "Should the "The UPS Store"be "La Magasin SCU"

    Next target 1-800-GOT-JUNK which will be called,
    "1-800 a reçu du bazar" oh wait that does not work out to a phone number.. ummm ok forget that lets just shut down and leave.

  2. “The show's sovereignist host, Guy A. Lepage, ever obsessed with the French language asked her why she chose to sing mostly in English.”

    This was a good show. For a change, they had some artists that weren’t enthusiastic spokesmen for Quebec’s nationalist cause, carefully handpicked before the show to peddle the separatist line to the gullible audience in full agreement with the hosts, like the Loco Locass clowns who were guests on the show a month or so ago.

    And you’re right about Lepage. He and his co-host Turcotte are obsessed about the language, and more so about English than French. They always sneak in a question about linguistic preferences to anyone who could perform or function in French (i.e. anyone even remotely associated with Quebec, France, or the Francophonie) but who opt to perform and/or function in English. You can almost see pain on Lepage’s and Turcotte’s faces whenever they talk to people who left the French language behind.

    In this emission of the show, I liked the fact that the guests were a lot different and didn’t sugarcoat or hold back to appease the hosts (like some do, for example the Anglophone president of the Allouettes Larry Smith who was on the show some 5 months ago and gave Lepage/Turcotte the answer they craved – something about importance of other languages, and how Spanish is as widespread as English – something that Quebec Anglophobes love to tell themselves even though no Anglophone has ever denied that fact or really cared). Gainsbourg said what she said (she could have also added that English enables her to reach a much wider audience than French ever would), and Sugar Sammy, when asked about Bill 101, has (rightly) pointed out that the law is harmful to a lot of Francophones, and much less harmful to Allophones who live in Montreal and manage to learn English despite the laws that are there to hinder them. In saying this, Sugar Sammy touched on a very important point – namely, that there are the “children of bill 101” (like Sammy, and...myself) – in whose case 101 can be viewed in more or less positive terms as it only adds a language to the repertoire of 3 languages, and there are “victims of bill 101” – i.e. many Francophones, especially in the regions but also in Montreal Est, who remain unilingual and thus professionally handicapped thanks to the cynical law passed by bilingual hypocrites. Turcotte and Lepage are prime examples of a “victim of bill 101”, and therefore obsess about anyone who switches (or is able to switch) to English and while they can’t do the same (and are therefore left behind). Some claim that Lepage is bilingual, but there is no record of that – not one interview that he’s given in English, no video in which he speaks English, and whenever he does use English on his show (on very rare occasions) he limits himself to no more than 3 words at a time, never a full sentence, and always with a heavy accent. I suspect his English is very limited and nowhere near “fluent”. His insecurity in regards to the English language is certainly indicative of his inability to function in it.

  3. I spent 3 months in Drummondville with Katimavik in 1999 with a wonderful family. I was aware of the sensitivity of francophones towards English encrochment but didn't realize how ridiculous it could be. The family took some grief from sovereignist family and friends for the name of their black Lab! "Tammy" was apparently too English sounding for some of them. Unbelievable!

  4. In another failed attempt to find a video of Guy Lepage speaking English, I found something else.


    “…J’voudrais remercier le publique qui regarde TLMEP a chaque dimanche malgre le blockbuster d’excellent qualite qui nous oppose TVA depuis 5 ans…”

    I’m not sure what this “blockbuster on TVA” is, but Lepage must be delirious if he thinks that TVA (or any other French channel) is the only competition for TLMEP in Quebec. With half the Francophone population bilingual, and 20% of the population made up of Anglos and Allos, American channels pose a much greater risk to the viewership of TLMEP.

    I personally enjoy Spielberg’s “The Pacific” that airs on HBO on Sunday nights. And I could mention many more programs on English-speaking TV that totally outcompete Lepage’s show.

  5. To add further on adski's comment regarding "Victims of Bill 101":

    Quebec is an old, large and quite populated province with all its people and resources. It can not be denied that a lot of Quebecers have achieved highly in many fields of human endeavors. However, outside of the political realms, I can not find a highly-achieving unilingual Quebec Francophone.

    Business: Guy Laliberte, Paul Desmarais
    Arts: Karine Vanasse, Celine Dion
    Exploration: Julie Payette, Marc Garneau
    Sports: Jacques Villeneuve, Chantal Peticlerc
    Hockey: do I need to mention them?

    And I am sure we can name a lot more famous bilingual Francophones. Point is, by limiting access to English education, Francophones really are shooting themselves in the foot. Not to mention that there is a discourse to expand Bill 101 to CEGEP and unuversity level.

    Look, in Montreal there are 4 universities. If we compare McGill to UdeM, McGill certainly wins. If we compare Concordia to UQaM... can we still make a fair comparison there?

  6. Troy, I believe the Desmarais family are franco-ontarians but, still, these language militants are ridiculous. I'm all for a French montreal. I like it. It's different from the rest, fine, it sounds nice and adds variety but this paranoid fear that its going to vanish has got to stop. It's safe. It's not going anywhere. We all speak it and unfortunately its only the ethnics and montreal anglos that view bilingualism as an asset.

  7. The Swedish group ABBA sang all their songs in English. Sweden is roughly the population of Quebec. Nobody ever called ABBA on this.

  8. 1:22am: Based on what you wrote, score one for the Swedes. Swedish is spoken by Swedes, and only Swedes, so it is not a widely spoken language internationally. Congratulations to them for learning English. Many of them like to go to American movies (as many of them picked up a North American English accent as opposed to a British English accent).