Tuesday, January 23, 2007

L'Anglais, tu t'en vas.

The debate continues.

Being an anglophone, I'm supposed to take offense at this sort of thing. I'm supposed to find the language laws (signs are to be in French. If other languages are to be included on signage, the French must be prominent.) fascistic and racist. I suppose they are to a point. But I also get a twisted feeling of excitement being an American who struggles with the fact that I live in a city where the majority of people don't or won't speak my native language. I somewhat enjoy seeing us anglophones struggle with the language barrier, getting embarrassed and pissed off when we don't get our way.

I think I feel this way because in the U.S. I always lived in areas with large immigrant populations, mainly Hispanic and Haitian, where there was little or no effort made to accomodate the fact that they did not speak English. Where, because they did not speak English, the only jobs to be had were dishwashing jobs. Where, because one does not speak English, it is assumed that one is of below-average intelligence.

So, while the language situation in Montreal is the same as in those cities in which I have lived, only the other way around, I see it as a bit of poetic justice. I'm happy to see anglophones squirm a bit.

I have a feeling, though, that as my speaking of French gets better, and I become more at ease when people ask for directions, when the coffee bean shop guy doesn't speak English, or when my teacher unloads a five minute speech on me in French concerning la mode or politics and expects me to respond likewise, I have a feeling that I will be bored with Montreal and will be sick of their stupid language laws.

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