Friday, July 07, 2006

French-only signs in TMR

According to the CBC, the Town of Mount Royal, a very posh little enclave on the north side of the mountain in Montreal, has caved in to the Office de la langue francaise and painted over the English on its bilingual street signs.

This goes farther than the OLF demand that French be predominant, and seems to be an act of pique on the part of the town council. Given the reaction of neighbouring Cote-Saint-Luc, which is retaining its bilingual signs given similar warnings, this seems like an outburst of exasperation on the part of TMR authorities, who are tired of the language police measuring the size of the English on their signs. Personally, I think it's a bad decision - better to continue to work within the margins of the law, than completely abandon the right to use English in addition to French.

I'm still working through my thoughts from my stay in Ireland, where I participated in an international conference on language law and language rights. At that conference, I was exposed to a whole host of different national, regional and international attempts to protect and promote minority languages, with widely varying degrees of success. To make matters more interesting, the Galway conference was itself a microcosm of language promotion, with simultaneous interpretation provided in English, French and Irish, with many of the session chairs from NUI Galway - all of them fluent in English - speaking in Irish to a crowd lacking any Irish-speakers. The challenge of revitalizing the Irish language makes promotion of French in Canada seem easy, and I'll have more on that in a future post.

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At 8:25 pm, Blogger Andy from Mass. said...

Beaconsfield, QC is attempting to ignore the "OLF" and leave its signs as they are.

The Cyberpresse blog of La Presse newspaper has an enormous number of entries by separatists that respond in the way that you might imagine.

And to think that Beaconsfield may cease to exist the next time the PQ comes to power.


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