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 ...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? "
Bilingualism always ends up giving birth to a bastard people."
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 .
One thing that I'm sure of is that we won't be getting any new English road signs.