CBC has a story about a new protest by French-superiority groups Impératif français and Mouvement Montréal français: They want to change when “For English, press 9” appears on government-run automatic telephone menus.
As it stands, many government departments have it at the beginning of their menus, so that anglphones don’t have to sit through French options they don’t understand. But the French groups want the option to be read only at the end of the French menus.
I honestly have no words to express how stupid this is. Arguing over automatic telephone menu orders is trivial enough, but what exactly are they trying to accomplish? Save time for francophones who have to endure that two-second delay? Help anglophones learn French by forcing them to sit through menu options?
No, this is just a pointless power grab and pissing contest. And unfortunately for us, the government actually listened. So if you have to wait through a five-minute list of menu options before finding out what number to press to get English service, you know who to blame.
Shouldn’t journalists correct wrong information?
During the CBC News at Six report on this scandal, it featured a few man-on-the-street soundbites from Montrealers about the issue. Naturally, the people interviewed said what the journalists could not: That this is a stupid issue to focus on and people should get a life.
But one of the interviewees defended the English language (because in Quebec, English needs a defence), saying it was the most commonly-spoken language in the world.
Of course, as any knower-of-pointless-facts would tell you, that’s incorrect. Mandarin (Chinese), with over a billion speakers, is spoken by more than twice as many people as English (which is second or third with over 300-500 million, depending on your source). French is ranked in the teens with 130 million (60 million natively).
But this apparent misinformation went uncorrected by the journalist. Why? Did she not know this (in which case, why didn’t she confirm it?), or are statements from random people on the street not subject to the same fact-checking treatment as those from journalists?
Quebec Office of the English Language
Another thing mentioned on the CBC evening news today was the creation of the Office québécois de la langue anglaise, a
bad joke grass-roots English rights group that hopes to pressure businesses into providing bilingual services. Considering the word “racism” appears on their forum, you can guess what kind of people this website is attracting. No doubt it will serve to hurt its cause more than it helps, by propagating the angryphone stereotype.
(UPDATE: Patrick Lagacé and his commenters have some things to say about this new group)
UPDATE (Nov. 10): We should send the Anglo Rights Brigade to Laval University, where it seems they’re clearly needed.