Tag Archives: Office-québécois-de-la-langue-française

More commercing en français

Quebec government ad at Peel metro

Remember that “Ici on commerce en français” campaign from the Office québecois de la langue française, that thought it could get businesses across the province to put little stickers in their windows to make non-francophones feel unwelcome?

Well, it’s back, and either because it was unsuccessful or because it was, the office is taking a different approach this time, targeting the consumers instead of the businesses. They’re handing out reusable bags this weekend with the goal that everyone will use one when they go to a business and the business owners will realize that it’s a good idea to serve them in French.

(They promote the bags as “un moyen … écologique”, which might carry more weight if those same bags weren’t being advertised using a giant ad trailer being hauled through the streets by a gas-guzzling SUV)

My point about how this is a waste of our taxpayer dollars remains – businesses in Quebec still have to provide customer service in French, and the number that refuse or are unable to do so won’t be swayed by this campaign. But, fortunately, I’m a bit less peeved about this idea than the last one.

The right to be served in French is one that I support. It is just common sense to speak the same language as your clientele (which also means being bilingual in heavily anglophone areas like the West Island or Hampstead). And it makes sense to codify this right into law, because there are assholes out there who think they should be able to live here without communicating at all with French Canada.

But what I actually like about this campaign is that it will facilitate communication between businesses and customers. I recall a while back I was in a store, giving short or non-verbal answers to the person serving me, and after a few exchanges the person got frustrated because he (or she, I don’t remember) couldn’t figure out what my preferred language is.

This bag, while intended to satisfy the small part of the Quebec population who feel that anglos are constantly planning an invasion and will wipe the French language off the face of the Earth at any moment, makes that uncertainty go away. If someone walks into my store with that bag around his or her shoulder, I’m going to speak to that person in French.

The next logical step is to start producing similar bags that indicate the wearer’s preferred language is English.

But somehow I don’t think the OQLF would go for that. After all, bags that identify someone as an anglophone might offend francophones and make them feel unwelcome.

UPDATE: Kristian Gravenor has his own take on this at Coolopolis.

Ici on tue personne

The Office québécois de la langue française, always looking for fun ways to spend money making anglos feel unwelcome, has started a new campaign to get store owners to place stickers in their windows reassuring people that yes, they speak French. They even got comedian Louis-José Houde to lend his voice to radio ads (because some unfamiliar voice telling you your language is in jeopardy just isn’t good enough).

The campaign is focused mainly on Montreal, but also Gatineau and the Eastern Townships, which are the three places you’re most likely to find anglos in Quebec.

I don’t quite get the point.

By law, all Quebec merchants should serve customers in French. So this sticker would be at best redundant.

The supposed idea is that merchants who don’t show the sticker would not see any francophone customers (or at least no card-carrying members of the St. Jean Baptiste Society). But that would only work once a majority of businesses got the sticker, which won’t happen any time soon no matter how free they are. Indeed, anything that smells of the OQLF would probably be rejected by Montreal businesses who don’t want to rock the boat and make things political for no reason.

Not to mention that searching for stickers would also annoy hard-core francophones who think all businesses should serve people in French (which, again, they’re required by law to do).

Besides, it would be fairly simple to just lie, put up one of those stickers and then promptly ignore it. People do that with alarm system stickers all the time.

So this campaign, which encourages retailers to unnecessarily affirm that they follow the law, and which annoys francophones and anglophones alike, is good for what exactly beyond wasting a bunch of taxpayer money?

Language police do good for a change

The Office québécois de la langue française has recently announced a deal with video game manufacturers concerning providing French-language games in Quebec. It will require, as of April 2009, that all games with a French equivalent sell that version here if it wants to sell and English version.

The deal, reached after months of discussions, is fair, reasonable, practical, and common-sense. It protects the rights of French consumers while limiting inconvenience to anglophone ones.

The OLF did this.

No kidding.

Hopefully this is just a first step in a change toward positive, realistic actions designed to promote the French language instead of restricting the rights of non-francophones.