Thursday, August 15, 2013
Ignoring English.... a Disastrous choice for Young Quebecers
True?...An urban myth?....dunno.
Let's not quibble over details and if it is not true, it could very well be.
On the surface it seems a bit outrageous that strangers come to your country and expect you to speak their language (yes, Canada is a French language country as well) and the moral outrage by unilingual Quebecers may be justified, but unfortunately, wrong-headed just the same.
Over the last twenty years or so, it is a fact that English has evolved into the lingua franca of the world. Wherever you go in the civilized world, you'll find somebody in the room who speaks English and for the hospitality industry, the political class and international business set, it is an imperative.
I'm a polyglot, and at ease in several languages. When I used to travel, it was with phrasebooks and I always made an effort to speak the local language,
Visiting Mexico often, where our company had a factory and where the locals, living in the hinterland, spoke no English, I took up Spanish and got by quite well, but alas have given up for practical reasons.
I remember one such trip to the beautiful boonie town of Zacatecas, where my wife remarked on how surprised she was that nobody spoke English, to which I remarked that she'd never been to Chicoutimi. Hmmm.
But this is twenty years later, I hope the Mexicans made some progress but I'm pretty sure that the
Saguenéens have not.
Now when I check into a hotel or eat in a foreign restaurant of a decent calibre, I actually expect service in English...
Arrogant.... I don't think so.
English is as necessary to a big city hotel or restaurant as clean linens or good food. Those that don't offer the service are suspect and lazy, so I wouldn't trust what I was being sold.
For francophone parents in Quebec who fail to ensure that their children learn English, it is akin to keeping them illiterate or without basic math skills, a dereliction of parental duty.
Quebec remains an oddball society, the only one that I can think of that has made public policy the persecution of all things English.
It's a clever campaign, where politicians and language militants profess encouragement for francophones to learn English, but actually hope they don't.
Through subtle and not so subtle attacks on all things English, the message is passed down rather successfully that those who don't learn English are just fine.
The Mario Beaulieus of Quebec are no better than the Ayatollahs who instruct to their flock that schooling is irrelevant to girls, who after all, are expected to stay home and make babies, and so, education an utter waste of time.
We hear this all the time, that English is unnecessary if a francophone sets a goal to become a barista in a Tim Horton's in Matane.
That is the nationalist version of reaching for the stars.
It reminds me of bygone days where school guidance councilors would regularly tell parents of poor students to send them to technical or secretarial school.
I thought that behaviour went out in the sixties, but apparently language militants in Quebec are of the same mindset.
"Don't bother learning English, it's too big an effort and since you're going nowhere in life, it's unnecessary."
Tell me you haven't heard the Quebecois version of that argument often enough.
And so a generation of children have been told by their government that learning a foreign language like English is nice but not entirely necessary.
Read the anglophobes on vigile.net who tell readers that it's more important to learn Spanish or Chinese and one can understand the fantasy world of the anti-English militants.
Now to those sovereigntists who believe that the only answer is independence, the sad fact is that it will not make English less important, but rather more.
As the rest of Canaeda de-bilingualizes, it means the protection of French in a bilingual Canada will disappear.
Quebec will be all alone, the 7 million francophones facing off against 375 million instead of the 35 million who protect French officially.
Hitherto bilingual Canadian companies with head offices in Toronto will de bilingualize, a natural progression based on the new reality.
Some companies selling into Canada, who were forced to keep French on the label and on the instructions even if it didn't pay, will eliminate translation.
Many companies will continue with French if it pays, but those who believe that it always pays are dead wrong.
Today there is an issue wherein Toronto or Calgary based public companies making public offerings are not bothering to issue documents in French, because they don't see enough interest or aren't interested in selling in Quebec under the rules of the AMT.
French language militants celebrated a great victory when the Quebec government ruled that the practice of making French summaries of English documents will no longer be tolerated and full translations will be required before companies can trade in Quebec.
The question remains whether this new rule will increase or decrease the amount of stock offerings in Quebec?
Those who believe the former are dreaming in technicolor.
It is like those who want to ban plastic water bottles, believing that everyone will alternatively switch to water fountains instead of bottles of soft drinks or juices.
Because of the protective bubble that Canada provides to the French language, francophones have come under the impression that there is an equivalency between languages, the need for anglophone Canadians to learn French, as necessary as francophones to learn English.
French language militants always boast that francophones are more bilingual than Anglophones, but fail to understand that the need for an Anglophone to speak French can in no way compare to a francophones's need to speak English.
It's like boasting that more girls use makeup than boys....there is no equivalency.
Sorry for the painful truth.....
The reality is that French is protected by all 35 million Canadians, like it or not.
Those who believe that Quebec stands alone protecting French are like the toddler whose training wheels are taken off her bicycle for the first time, and who pedals furiously and successfully, unaware that her father is running behind her with a firm hand holding the whole thing upright.
I want to share this tweet as an example of the arrogance of the ignorant, who believe the world revolves around French Quebec.
Pierre Trudel, a retired Quebec sports commentator took offence at Eugenie Bouchard for Tweeting to her followers in English only.
His missive is typical of the ignorance of those who live in the cloistered world of the unilingually French and denotes a not so subtle level of hatred directed at the English.
First, Mr. Trudel assumes or wishes that Ms. Bouchard would be a francophone, which she is not. He adds an accent 'egu' to her name because it fulfils his fantasy.
The product of a French/English family, Eugenie speaks both English and French, but is decidedly Anglophone, having attended school at the very upper class and English "The Study" in Westmount.
Listening to her interviews in both French and English, it is clear that English and the English culture is her preference.
But still, at ease in both languages, (she has a French coach) she is the embodiment of the bilingual class of Quebecers. A fine testament to the young successful bilinguals of Quebec (be they English or French).
But read into Mr. Trudel's tweet and we see quite the frustration. He sarcastically mentions Westmount 'Kwibec,' a pejorative that francophones use, to describe how Anglos pronounce Quebec.
Now on what level is an Anglophone Canadian, who lives in Quebec, but plays on the international world tennis tour (which operates in English,) obliged to tweet in French.
Is it not the height of entitlement of Francophone Quebecers to assume that she should?
Such is the reality of French language militants.
It is sad and destructive, the painful reason so few francophones are really bilingual.
Listening to politicians, police or industry spokesman on television and on the street, it is more than clear that the level of English comprehension is abysmally low.
Thank the government and the Mario Beaulieus for keeping Quebec francophones barefoot and stupid, after all, like the Afghani girls who don't need education, so too are Quebecers, who don't really need English.
And so the rate of real bilingualism of francophone Quebecers is pitiful, with the majority of those claiming to speak and understand English basing that rating largely on the ability to order breakfast in English.
How many can watch a Hollywood movie and fully understand and appreciate what is said?
Francophones reading this blog, and who are truly bilingual, know the truth.
To those who actually achieve real bilingualism, I salute you.
You've done so despite your government and society, which actually resents your success and views your bilingualism as some sort of treason.
Sad but true.....
Posted by Editor on 8/15/2013 09:51:00 PM