English is gaining ground in Quebec

English is gaining ground in Quebec
English is gaining ground in Quebec

Although the situation is not as “dramatic” as in Montreal, Quebec, the oldest French city in North America, is increasingly seeing its visual landscape changed by commercial displays where rebellious English sometimes takes up all the space. . A shameless lexical degradation, a hassle due among other things to the laxity of this law 101 which has just been modified with law 96. But will this be enough to counter galloping Anglomania?

One thing is certain, the tourist who walks the Côte de la Montagne or the streets Saint-Jean, Saint-Louis or Saint-Paul to find the linguistic patina “ typically French » so sought after will certainly be disappointed to see how the almost monolingual posters in English of the soulless franchises Mary’s Popcorn, Mango Tea, Cool As A Moose, Sugar Daddy’s candy, DavidsTea, etc. could so easily replace the French of the charming bistros of yesteryear.

And what applies to outdoor commercial signage also applies to public utility instructions, cultural events (the Fest, the Week), restaurant menus, programs, etc.

It is a cancer whose metastases have spread throughout the lower town and also in the Faubourg Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a neighborhood – mine – known to be very militant, where windows such as Stay Sharp, Gold Rice and Barber Shop give the answer to the North Face and Vape Shop cupboards of this world. What “linguistic diversity” is!

And the worst part of all this? This is because often, unfortunately, the offending posters frolic innocently next to the pennants and gonfalons marked “Local accent” strewn everywhere by the City in an effort of economic and social promotion. Frenglish as a “local accent”, really?

In fact, I have the impression that English signage has become as bad as Japanese knotweed in terms of colonizing the visual field of the National Capital. You cut a stem and four stems grow back from the same rhizome. So, recently, after filing a complaint with the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), we succeeded in my neighborhood in pushing a “delinquent” merchant to redo his sign in French. Everyone was happy, starting with the owner himself, except that barely three weeks later, three new businesses in the same area were pompously advertised in English. Like knotweed, I tell you… Discouraging!

But how is it that we can only count on citizen denunciation and the (often laughable) sanctions of the OQLF to bring unconscious or unscrupulous traders to heel? What makes it so easy for a non-law-abiding merchant to obtain an operating permit in Quebec, a center of history and culture?

Why must we always wait to take action downstream (with the OQLF), when it would be so simple, upstream, if municipalities, commercial development companies and other organizations concerned jointly carried out real awareness campaigns for a commercial signage in French? What are we waiting for to act rather than passing the buck when things get out of hand? And are our elected officials, all levels of government combined, sleeping? Isn’t the cause worth it?

Finally, adopted recently, Law 96 must become fully operational in June 2025, regarding display. Until then, hoping that this will be enough to put an end to it, I only hope that Quebec and its “American accent” do not suffer too much. It’s already enough globish indigestible like that.

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