Angryphones and frangryphones

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.

12 thoughts on “Angryphones and frangryphones

  1. Kate M.

    Actually, “press 9” always makes me flinch. It’s like, we’re not going to accord you second place, in fact we’re going to push you as far down the number pad as we can; too bad we can’t make you zero, but that’s reserved as an escape key.

  2. princess iveylocks

    Man, interacting with Canadians-at-large would be much simpler if I spoke Mandarin. No joke. I almost shot myself in the head at work recently due to that particular deficiency in my education.

    When I call the government and hear a whole slew of French (Hungarian, Danske, whatever), I hit “0” repeatedly, until the automated service begs for mercy and an operator steps in to process the call. Forget 9, 0 is where it’s at.

    Also, if you’ve ever listened to CBC Radio’s morning “think-tank” panels (comprised of utter morons, who one dearly hopes are not representative Canadian, dispelling idiocy, bigotry, and rumours as sanctified gospel truth)… paragraph 2 wouldn’t even be a question.

  3. BJ

    According to (what else?) Wikipedia, English is more widely spoken than Mandarin (but just barely.) Most Madarin-speakers are Chinese-born unlike English-speakers of whom only some are Chinese-Born. Ni ting dong le ma?

  4. Tym Machine

    Today on the French alarmist news of TVA, a Quebecor company, we heard about a new web site called which stands for « Office Québecois de la langue anglaise », a satyrical wink to the real « Office de la langue française du Québec ». Mr. Howard Galganov, ex-QPAC member, radio morning man and activist talks on it pretty clearly on a right on the target editorial.

    In fact as odd as it may seem, the battle for English Quebeckers within the province of Québec is a lot like the battle of francophones wanting to be respected and wanting to be served in their own language and I respect that.

    Of course it would be so much simplier as my mom always put it if we could all on this planet speak the same language. It happens that the international language is English. However, it is not the case.

    Just as much as English Quebeckers will always remain English people no matter how fluent they will become in French (probably most of QPAC members were very bilingual), a French Quebecker like me will always have as a mother tongue French no matter how much I master the English language and no matter how much I use it and/or like it.

    Therefore respect for one is respect for all. I think if Canada is truly a bilingual country, Quebec should not have law forbidding the use of English at any time just as much as you should be able to live freely and speak whatever language you may want to speak in the ROC.

    At the same time, if bilinguisism would be implemented everywhere, maybe we could ask our neighbouring provinces to do exactly just the same and extend the request above and beyond Ontario to Western Canada before they separate themselves from this mess.


    Tym Machine

  5. Pingback: Fagstein » TWIM: Anglos, poutine and a gypsy

  6. Greg M

    I don’t know why anglos in Quebec stick around to put up with the harassment and discrimination. Masochism? Good for you, I guess, but you sure pay a price. I read this stuff and I know why I live in Ontario.

  7. Armando

    Partition is the only answer for montreal. as an english speaking quebecer I, like you, have no rights.
    Tell me who represents you on the provincial level, or on the municipal level for that matter???NO ONE! We are over 700 000 non francophone in this province. For Christ sake, thats more than the population of Halifax.
    When we speak partition everyone is afraid. Be not afraid. We will prosper from this. We will be represented.
    We spend millions on language like OLF yearly, take this money and put it on health care and education where we need it most. Forget language, forget culture.. thats something we need to learn how to preserve at home with family.
    We will always be outsiders until we partition. If your an Anglo-montrealer born in Montreal your a Montrealer, if your an Franco-Quebecer born in Montreal your a Quebecois. Where is the justice.
    Tired of being an outsider in the country I was born in. I WANT TO BE AN INSIDER AND MAKE THIS PLACE HOME FOR ME AND MY CHILDREN.

  8. Tym Machine

    After years of debating the topic with a good friend of mine, mr Howard Galganov, I came to the conclusion that the ROC should hold a referendum on whether or not Canada should separate from Québec.

    Even though I would vote no on such a referendum if I was aloud to do so(currently, I am a frangryphone living in the province of Quebec but I might move in a nearby future), I now support the idea of the ROC holding such a referendum on the topic. Hell, if Québec was aloud to hold such a referendum on its own territory, the rest of the canadian provinces should be allowed to express an opinion on the topic whether or not the outcome is positive or not.

    My prediction would be that it would not pass due to Ontario and that would surely piss off my friend Howard who is currently militating for such a partition of Canada. Ontario is still hooked up on the liberal freak show and still hooked up on the trudeaumania nostalgia even to the point of electing Stéphane Dion who once called law 101 a great canadian law with 47% of all the Ontario vote according to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey(and hell, they would give a higher majority to Justin Trudeau just for being the son of Pierre-Eliott). However, such a proposition would score really high in Western Canada in provinces such as Alberta for instance for two reason: first, they are sick and tired of federally imposed bilinguism for a minority that does not come even close to 1% of the whole province population and secondly, because they might want to give every chance to Quebec to separate from Canada so they could separate themselves from the liberal mess that Ontario and the Maritimes still wants to impose on Western Canada, a party that has been so hurtful for Western Canadian to the point that in 2006, they ALL voted for Conservatives MPs in Alberta (then angryphones will accuse Quebeckers of having all the same opinion on everything such as label us all separatists…well I wonder if we would have been so unanimous about the Bloc or the PQ what the angryphones might say…)

    By the way, great blog, keep on the good work Fagstein.


    Tym Machine

  9. Anonymous

    I only have one thing to say, anglos in Quebec can do alot more things in english in Québec than frnacophones can do things in french in the english provinces. Just look how many francophones are left in Canada outside of Québec, less than 4% and most of them don’t or barely speak any french in there homes anymore.

  10. Josh

    Anonymous, I would say that maybe anglophones in Montreal have it a lot easier than francophones in the Rest of Canada, but not anglophones across Quebec.

  11. Sir

    In regards to journalists correcting wrong information, although mandarin may be the most common spoken language, English is the international language of business. In terms of numbers, although Mandarin might have the edge, English is the most widely spoken language in the world.

  12. DD

    Re: journalists correcting wrong information…The person said “most commonly used” language, which is a bit inaccurate, to be sure. She wasn’t entirely wrong, however. English is actually the most *widely* spoken language. The wikipedia article given in the above link is the “language with the most native speakers” which says nothing of how broadly used that language is. Mandarin may be used by the largest number of people in the world, but most of them are Chinese, living in China.

    This link gives a better representation of how widely languages are used. English and French are the top two.


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