The Anonymous Widower

The Language Rules In Quebec

There is a big row going on in Quebec about the use of the proper language in an Italian restaurant.  It’s here in the Guardian. This paragraph shows the pedantic nature of the language police.

After a five-month investigation into an anonymous complaint, Massimo Lecas received a letter from the board telling him that his establishment, Buonanotte, had broken the law by including the words “pasta” on the menu and “bottiglia”, the Italian word for bottle, instead of the French word bouteille.

It sounds like several Italian restaurants, I have been to in the UK, the Netherlands or France.

I have only been to Quebec once and wouldn’t go again.

I don’t speak French well, but I can read it pretty well, as I’ve spent a couple of summers in the South of France and have also read some of the James Bond books in French.

But I found the French in Montreal very difficult and I never worked out how to use the public transport, as there is no English translation.  It was almost like going to Wales and finding everything in Welsh. Even Paris, which last time I looked at the map was in France, is a city, where instructions for public transport are in multiple languages and in that respect it is much better than London.

But the main reason, I won’t go, is that I found on that trip it was difficult to stay gluten-free. In fact, I got glutened for the only time in recent years.  It was mainly because the good restaurant I ate in, had probably used oven-chips, which are coated in wheat to make them crisp.

Some years ago, I used to own a hand tool company. We sold in numerous countries including the United States and France, and then had an enquiry from a distributor in Canada.  They would take the product, but the product leaflet would have to be in perfect Canadian French. French just wouldn’t do! So at some expense we got a French Canadian translation and the product was duly launched in Canada.

Some time later, we had an urgent order from France and sadly we were out of French leaflets, so we told them, we did have the French Canadian version in stock. So we faxed one to France and the French said that the leaflet was rather quaint and a good laugh, but that it would do to fulfil the urgent order.

There’s no doubt that French Canadians are much more bothered about their language than the French.

Perhaps though some Canadians are also a bit touchy about English spelling.  I once flew to the States sitting next to a secretary at the New Zealand High Commission in Toronto.  She had to be very careful she didn’t use American spelling, when writing to some English-speaking Canadians, as otherwise they’d return it with corrections.

March 13, 2013 - Posted by | World | , ,

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