December 9, 2010

At times it's frustrating

We've written about how much we do like living here in Montreal. Like any place, there are issues we wish we did not have. Take for example, taxes. You'll never hear us complain about US taxes ever again. Trust us...even without the recent tax cuts in the doesn't compare.

The one thing that does frustrate us on a daily basis is the language issue. We're open to learning French, we really are. Paul carries a dictionary with him in the car and looks up words when passing by a billboard, hopefully not while driving. He listens to French TV and then leaves the closed caption on so the next person grabbing the remote has to remember the menu features. He and Louis even watch The Simpsons (Les Simpsons) in French. Danielle is doing an excellent job with her French, earning the highest mark on a recent exam in her class (she's in the lowest level of French, but nonetheless, it's a class with girls who are from Quebec and have been around French their entire lives, not just the last two years.) Kish...she's still on Bordeaux. And Pinot Noir.

However, each and every day there is some article in the paper or issue on the news about someone who is pissed annoyed about lack of French here or there. Someone actually complained that our social service group, The American Women's Club of Montreal did not have French on the website. I dare someone to complain about this blog...I would say...just cut and paste and throw it in Google Translate and I really don't care if it's grammatically correct in French. The Quebecois French sucks is not the same as France French and some would say it's like trashy French with a bunch of made-up words.

The irony is that the more the language issue is pushed and pushed in such a dictatorial way, the more it's a turn off of sorts. Sadly, most of the hard-core Quebecois people really don't get the importance of English in today's global society. It's as if they just want to keep people here in Quebec. Some would argue that's exactly what they are doing.

The following article in today's paper is just one of many. It took six months to get our Hydro (electric) and cable bill in English...I hope we don't go back to that.

There are times we want to scream "We're not in Europe, this is freaking CANADA!" Hmmm...better look that up in Google Translate.

Safety board limits English information

Orders from language watchdog. Employers

contacting CSST must do so in French, but policy 

exempts individuals

The provincial workplace health and safety board no longer offers information in English to the province's employers, the result of recommendations by the Office quebecois de la langue francaise.
The Commission de la sante et de la securite du travail du Quebec, known as the CSST, deleted its "Press 9 for English" option on its automated telephone answering service April 26 after the OQLF -known by some as Quebec's French language enforcers -urged it and 165 other public agencies to comply more strictly with Quebec's language law.

Callers can still obtain information and converse in English about employee rights, but Quebec employers must communicate only in French with the CSST.

Asked yesterday by an English-speaking caller if anyone could answer a question in English about employers' obligations, a CSST attendant replied, in English: "Are you from Quebec?"

Told the caller was from Montreal, the person switched to French and said: "I am required by the French Language Charter to conduct all communications with you in French, unless you are from outside Quebec."

The CSST "was being a good corporate citizen, just respecting the law," board spokesperson Pierre Turgeon said.

Many of the CSST's 4,000 employees speak English, but only to members of the public who identify themselves as workers, not bosses, he added.

The CSST is finally applying a 2002 government policy, OQLF spokesperson Martin Bergeron said. Communication between public agencies and the public -not necessarily employers -is being reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with a goal of making French the default language on phone answering systems and websites, he noted.
The OQLF reviewed 166 government agencies last winter and found 80 per cent of them had increased French and reduced English in their phone answering systems and websites. That's up from 50 per cent two years ago, Bergeron said. The agencies reviewed include Hydro-Quebec, the Quebec health insurance board and the automobile insurance board, which all still have extensive English sections on their websites.

Bergeron would not say if changes are coming, for instance, to Hydro's English billing service or the availability of English forms from government agencies. "Those agencies have no obligation to serve people in English," he said.



Mr. G said...

Hi guys...

The "taliban" approach QC has with French is what made us leave the Province without any resentment. Sometimes, as you said, it looks like they just try to make a wall around them built on French and inferiority complex. They should realize that their separation would turn them just in another little third world country!

Sadly, in the meantime, you have to assume your minority condition and cope with it. Or move to Ontario.

Have a good one.

Charles said...

Hello, I read your blog up to here, and this entry sort of bit me as a Québécois.

I think you have to understand your position here, you are un a culture that has been playing defense for the last 250 years. I dislike war analogies, but if there is a culture war you are inside enemy line. You are a minority within a minority, but you represent the majority.

Try not to insult the local language. Imagine if the standard for English was based solely on U.K English, and then people said your English sucks...

I agree with you the no one should care what language American Women of Montreal speak. Funny thing is if you were a member of the Uzbeck women of Montreal, nobody would care.

Most importantly, I would like to say that as long as they don't come by the millions, people here would want Americans (or anybody) to feel welcome. But just like it should be anywhere, a certain level of adaptation is expected.

Some comments on what you say...


"Sadly, most of the hard-core Quebecois people really don't get the importance of English in today's global society. "

Did you ever think that maybe they do, and they fear it?


"The following article in today's paper is just one of many. It took six months to get our Hydro (electric) and cable bill in English...I hope we don't go back to that."

I agree with you 100% that this is wrong, government entities should not expect everybody to speak French.


"There are times we want to scream "We're not in Europe, this is freaking CANADA!" "

Hehe, better not ;) You mean all of Canada should speak English? I think even English Canadians would disagree with you here. Big no-no.

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