Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Petition for Bilingual Road Signs Deposited...Good Luck

There's a reason that there was a Facebook  group dedicated to the creation of a 'sarcasm' font because as we all know the use of irony to mock or convey contempt is particularly difficult to reproduce in print.
As to the petition to require English on Quebec road signs deposited in the National Assembly today it is with that measure of sadness that I say....     Yah...Good Luck with that.

I want to congratulate Harold Stavis, the author of the petition on his hard work and dedication but with all the good intentions in the world,  the petition hasn't got a snowball's chance in Hell of being implemented.
I was going to describe the effort to get English or pictograms added to Quebec road signs as a Herculium task, but on a sober second thought would sadly describe the effort as a Sisyphean Task.

 "The French Language Charter allows safety signs to be in English as well as French, however, it’s up to the discretion of the Transport Ministry. The government said it won’t comment until it’s had time to study the petition but a spokesperson for the transport minister said 90 per cent of Quebec road signs are pictographs. He added that signage near the border is bilingual."  Link to Global

For over forty years it has been the policy of every single Quebec government, separatist or federalist, to eliminate English where it could and humiliate it where it could not.
That policy has become so ingrained that it permeates our entire Quebec society and where almost all businesses have also adopted what I like to refer to as an "eliminate or humiliate" attitude.

 This Loblaw's grocery sign is exactly what I mean when I say humiliate. With the English language displayed in an unreadably small font, words that were probably translated by Google and with nary a soul bothering to correct the obvious translation blunder.
And this by the way is representative of all signage in the company's Quebec stores, where English is displayed in just such a humiliating and slapdash manner, where the entire store is filled with signs with nonsense English translations and syntax. This from the mightiest of grocery chains in Canada.
I wonder how long a French sign with such obvious errors would be permitted.
 It is simply pitiful to see giant companies like Loblaws who are based outside Quebec scramble to get on board with the spirit, not just the letter of the language law.

And so where English can be used, many businesses don't bother because it's cheaper to operate in one language and only knuckle under when language rights activists rise up in local markets where Anglophones are a substantial part of the clientele.

The elimination and humiliation of English has really nothing to do with communication and everything to do with the Francophone elitists obsession with bullying its English minority as punishment for perceived historical injustice towards francophones in general and the French language in particular by English Canada.

Here is an article written by William Johnson  who is by far the finest and most eloquent defender of English rights in Quebec.
The piece entitled Quand le ciel linguistique est menacé was published in French  a couple of months ago and I know of no English translation, which is a pity because it is remarkable, blowing apart the long-held mantra that Bill 101 was based on the fragility of the French language. If you read French, please do Le Devoir the courtesy of reading the article there.  Le Devoir

Here is my translation with apologies for any defeciencies.
According to the Leger poll released on January 23, 2017 in Le Devoir, 66% of Francophones believe that French is threatened. Nothing new. It is a dogma inscribed in our collective consciousness.In 1972-73, the Commission of Inquiry into the Situation of the French Language and Linguistic Rights in Quebec, chaired by linguist Jean-Denis Gendron, delivered its report after several years of public meetings and sociological studies. There was then a consensus among the witnesses who appeared before the Commission that French was under threat. For example, the Montreal Catholic School Board submitted a memorandum in 1968 stating: "Quebecers do not feel that they want to speak 'good' French because they are aware that, on the one hand, using the bastardized version, the message will be understood anyways and that, on the other hand, this 'correct' language which would be imposed upon them is of little use in  the workplace where the influence of English dominates. "
A still more sombre view was affirmed in a book published in 1971 by the Association of French Teachers in Quebec titled The Black Book... The impossibility (almost absolute) of teaching French in Quebec. The following findings were made;
"What can be left of French life when one speaks English at work, when one reads English on the way back home, when one listens to English radio or television in the evening at home? A language that isn't a language of communication is destined to disappear ..."Bilingualism is a step towards English unilingualism in Quebec. Who said that? All serious linguists.. 
Bilingualism always plays in favor of the stronger, it destroys the language of the minority. It kills it slowly, it consumes the weakest ...
 Bilingualism always ends up giving birth to a bastard people."
 An opinion poll commissioned by the Gendron commission was soon to confirm that the people of Quebec believed what intellectuals and teachers were telling them, that they were almost all working in English and that French was more or less confined to family life. The survey asked: "It is said that the French Canadian has to work in English, while outside his work he lives in French. In your opinion, what proportion of French Canadians is in this situation? "
To this question, 78% of respondents in the Montreal region said that French Canadians worked "overwhelmingly or in the majority" in English. Only 3% believed that "the very small minority" had to work in English.So what are the facts? The Gendron commission engaged sociologists to provide a detailed description of the language of work. Surprise! The researchers found that on average, Francophones in Montreal worked in French, 19.1 days out of 20. So they used English on average less than one day out of 20.
Outside of Montreal, according to the experts' report, Francophone workers worked in French on average 19.6 days a week. The research director for the Gendron commission, sociologist Pierre-Étienne Laporte, commented on these results: "We believe that we can say that the preponderance  of French among Francophone workers is stronger than we had anticipated. As we know, there is a climate of opinion in French Quebec that the majority of French Canadians are in the sad situation of "living in French and working in English" ... Our investigation revealed the extent to which the linguistic situation of Francophones at work is better than the general public believes. "Has this serious work, led by credible researchers, succeeded in enlightening public opinion? Not at all. On April 1, 1977, the government of René Lévesque published a white paper to announce and explain the Charter of the French language that was to follow. This white paper was presented as a summary of all previous research on language. In fact, it was rather a summary of all the myths received about the desperate situation of French. One did not even hesitate to lie deliberately.The following assertion was presented as having been made by the Gendron Commission: "English is clearly dominant in general communications at work: 82% of all communications are in English throughout Quebec, 85% in Montreal and 70% in the province. English is also predominant in more specific modes of communication. "
Having previously read the report of the Gendron commission, I was amazed by this statement and went to verify it. Indeed, I found these figures, but they did not say what the white paper wanted them to say. This section dealt with the working conditions of Anglophones only, not all workers in Quebec, let alone Francophone workers. It should be noted that the other statements in the White Paper were supported by a reference to the source from which the information was derived. But there was no reference to this statement, which radically distorted the real situation of French in the world of work. I concluded that the misinformation was deliberate.

Again, the media shouted that the language sky was falling, even if the census data said the opposite.

As the petition for English signage is deposited in Quebec's National Assembly I am wondering what will be the reaction.
Will it be politely received and then ignored.
Will it be fiercely and loudly rejected by French language nationalists .
Or both.

One thing that I'm sure of is that we won't be getting any new English road signs.


  1. Before I begin, let me understand correctly that this petition wants that all traffic signs across Quebec be bilingual, does it not?

    This is one of few issues that I actually agree with the Separatists, well parts of it. What good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Then why all traffic signs in Quebec need to be bilingual while it is not the same in English Canada? Not all traffic signs in the RoC (excluding New Brunswick) are bilingual. Vast majority of them are unilingually English. In fact, the counter-argument is right. Quebec uses much more pictograms than in other provinces which simply use English words to convey message.

    I would support bilingual signs in the Bilingual Belt part of Quebec and in the Autoroutes but not in the whole province.

    As well, if we are talking about labels on grocery stores... Come on now. How are those items labeled in the RoC? Not a word of French. Of course we are not talking about packaged food, just those that the stores label themselves.

    1. In complete fairness, RoC have screwed up French labelling before - see this: http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/04/11/un-sandwich-turquie-epice-du-sein-sobeys-s-excuse_n_15944020.html

  2. Interesting response, Troy. As Mr. Berlach wrote, at best the petition will be given lip service, and unfortunately the efforts of Mr. Stavis, whom I commend for such efforts, are for naught and a complete exercise in futility.

    Sometime ago, Philip, you linked several items on YouTube with respect to individuals such as Irwin Rapoport and others who addressed a committee on, I believe a Bill 14, designed to increasingly alienate Anglophones. I remember Mr. Rapoport stating his parents and grandparents didn't teach him or other children of his generation Yiddish. My father spoke Yiddish alone to my grandparents, but nobody taught it to my brother, my cousins, or me. Does that make us diminished Jews, or human beings period? I really don't think so.

    I think the only sure way English will be totally eliminated from their lives will be if Francophones go to other countries where French has been retained, like France, maybe Belgium and a number of Francophony African countries (fat chance)! I would say too they can separate from Canada, but it's not as if we in the rest of Canada will cow-tow (I can see enough of a backlash against French outside Quebec), and I'm sure there will be enough fighting against the Acadians, many of whom I speak to on the phones that don't sound French but more like some bastardized language you can call Cajunspeak. I know Acadians who ridicule that Cajunspeak. Poor things can't even go to Quebec because Québécois alienate and ridicule Acadians, Franco Ontarians and Franco Americans, too! Gosh darn shucks! All minorities in Quebec are treated equally--like second-class citizens, thus, ergo and therefore if you are not a true-blue Old Stock Québécois, you're subject to complete alienation.

    The only enjoyable part of Quebec separation (with the possibility of partition by the minorities) would be watching them suffer like when the black population (whoops--Africans) took over Zimbabwe, their dollar eventually devalued to the point their hundred trillion dollar bills ($100,000,000,000,000) could be used for ass wipe because they wouldn't buy a roll of toilet paper. No federal largesse, like EI, OAS, GIS or over ten billion dollars in equalization payments.

    Simply put: Bill 22 and subsequent legislation are affirmative action. Who needs affirmative action? Inferior peoples who can't adequately integrate and take the necessary steps required to become equal to those of us who study and work hard to achieve the goal. They shutout those who can and put in those who can't. Think the executiveship of most Quebec professional corporations (find me an English name among the personnel) and of course the civil service.

    We're in the 43rd year post-Bill 22, year #40 for Bill 101, and you minorities still don't get it! It's done! It's over! It's a fait accompli! Under the so-called federalist premier, minority constituencies are going to be made larger so your votes will be increasingly marginalized, and I'm sure they'll be enlarged again down the road. Address a bus driver in English and they'll likely throw you off the bus (maybe bodily), ridicule you, or in English neighbourhoods, throw everybody off the bus.

    If you're under age 40, you better speak fluent French, and if you have Jewish names like Levine or Labow, change them to Lavigne and Lebeau. You ain't one of them, then prepare for a lifetime of being an inferior being on their soil.

    Case closed.


    Mr. Sauga