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Old October 25th, 2005, 01:18 PM
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I am woefully ignorant about your country being located so far from it . I am located in Alabama.
Last week I received two business telephone calls from the city of Quebec. Both callers began by asking if I spoke French. I replied I only spoke about 80% English and the rest was " southern " and they laughed and proceeded to speak in excellent English.
My question(s) are why would they call the US and ask someone if they spoke French ? ( I obviously answered the telephone in English ).
Secondly both spoke excellent English and certainly had no trouble communicating with me at all so I am at a loss as to why this was an issue.
Finally for those CMs from that area, what is your native language ? You communicate on these boards in English but do you speak French in your homes or on the street ?
Appreciate any feedback you can give.

Regards,

Ben
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Old October 25th, 2005, 02:07 PM
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Tide, I would answer that for you but, I am only 2 states to the left of ya.
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Old October 25th, 2005, 04:07 PM
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We speak southern here, and my boys speak a little Texan. When I call my TA who is in New England, she giggles alot, finally telling me it's the way I talk!!! My son, in the first grade missed the word Dog on his spelling test. The teacher called me in, and it wasn't until she heard me speak, that she changed it to an A. They were told to sound out the words, and he had spelled it Dawg.

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Old October 25th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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Ben:

French is the official language of the province of Quebec. Close to 48% of the Quebec population voted for separation from Canada during the last referendum. Recent poles suggest the percentage would still be close to 48% for separation and sovereignty.

Having said that, a lot of people in Quebec would like for Quebec to be a separate country and not be part of Canada. French would then be the official language of that country.

I suppose, if you would go to France, you would ask if the person you addressed yourself to if he/she spoke English? I know when I go to Spanish speaking country, I inquire if he/she can speak English.

Now to the other question as to what we speak at home. As it happens, I live in the neighbouring province of New Brunswick which is the only bilingual province in Canada. All other provinves are officially English speaking. My wife, children and myself communicate in French. However, when outside of our home, if you don't know the person, you would generally start a conversation in English. English is pre-dominant in this province.

This is not so much different than you would have in states close to the Mexican border where Spanish is allmost the official language?

RollerDonna (our most active CruiseMate) lives in the province of Quebec and might have a better understanding.

Hope this helps you understand a bit better.

Bill
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Old October 25th, 2005, 05:43 PM
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Thank you Bill for this information.
If your province is the only bilingual in Canada does that mean that English is the office language of Quebec ?
Are both languages taught in school ?
One of the guys I talked to said it was getting harder to find bilingual people to work in the service industry there.

Regards,

Ben
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Old October 25th, 2005, 07:41 PM
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Hey Ben:

Don't understand your: "English is the office language of Quebec" ?

If you are asking if English is the business language of Quebec, I would have to say, that, to my knowledge business conducted in the province of Quebec by Quebecers, than the answer is yes.

Most of the business correspondance I have with Quebecers is conducted in French.

However, English is still the international business language and if you are going to do business outside the province of Quebec you can be assured that they will find a way to interact in English.

In my province of New Brunswick both languages are taught in schools. If English is spoken at home, French will be a second language and vice versa for English to be the second language of French schools.

I'm not sure of the school situation in Quebec.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Rollerdonna would be better to answer your query.

Bill
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Old October 25th, 2005, 09:35 PM
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Ben: I'm in Ontario which is Quebec's neighbour to the west. We are an English speaking province. Quebec's official language is French. They have French signs, street signs, stores, etc. etc. I have visited a few times and cannot read the street signs....directions on the highways, names of stores, etc. BUT if I stop for gas or go in a restaurant they will probably speak & understand English, especially in the major cities. In some small towns I may have a hard time finding someone to communicate with.

There was a referendum held about 5 years ago (not sure how long) in which all Canadians got to vote on whether Quebec should separate from Canada and become an independant country. As Bill said, the vote was about 48% for....so Quebec remains a province in Canada, but there are still many unhappy Quebecers who would like to live in their own separate country. I must admit I don't understand all the politics of it, but essentially Quebec is in a way already separate from the rest of Canada when it comes to language. So although the official language is French it is in large part (unofficially) a bilingual province. On a side note: I have no idea why someone would phone Alabama & ask if you spoke French. It makes no sense to me either!

Hope this helps clear some of this up for you. I'm also sure Donna can give you much more clear information.
Nancy
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Old October 25th, 2005, 10:17 PM
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Hi there. I live in Laval, Quebec. Luckily, some of my government offices here have one or two people who can function in English, but they prefer to speak in French. I am by birth English-speaking, so my children have an exemption to go to english-language schools. French speakers, and immigrant children are forbidden by law from attending English schools.

As well, because I am English-speaking (in fact, the abbreviated version of my first name is a swear word in French), I feel my business is being discriminated against by possible French clients. I advertise in French, I speak French when I answer the phone, but have only a 1% French clientele.

There are areas, large areas in fact, in Quebec outside of the greater Montreal area (most actually) where NOBODY speaks ONE WORD of English.

We have a language watchdog body called L'Office de la Langue Francaise, known in English as the "Language Police" who ensure that all signs in the province are predominantly French. Ditto websites served from here, and commercial telephone answering machine messages as well. Transgressors will be fined and sued until they go under.

The EXTERNAL language of business is English. The internal language is French. Companies must make French language software available by law, and conduct their internal operations in French. There are a lot of "cheaters" in this aspect, but English in the workplace is definitely on the decline.

I am presently breaking the law by using an English version of Windows XP on my computer. A major motion picture cannot be released in Quebec by law until it has a French-language version to run concurrently.

Most people might think the above is draconian. Here it is considered a happy compromise, the alternative being violence and possible civil war. In fact, those English-speakers who demand more rights are shouted down as "provocateurs" or "s**t disturbers".

Edited to add: Quite often, Canadians from thousands of miles away try to "explain" the situation in Quebec, as if they are in the know. To those people I say kindly shut up until you have lived the situation. Until then, you know less than nothing on this subject. Language is a contentious issue in Canada, and there are "Ugly Canadians" on both sides of the debate. Parallels have been drawn between Spanish language rights (or lack thereof) in Texas and Florida.
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Old October 25th, 2005, 10:33 PM
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Unfortunately, everything Cruise Cynic explained is true here in the province of Quebec. Because I was educated in English schools as a child, I was eligible to obtain "eligibility papers" for my children to attend English schools. Anyone who moves from another province, or from another country and was educated outside of Quebec, their children are forced by law to go to French schools, along with any Quebec-born children who's parents were educated in French. English-speakers can get around the law by sending their children to private English schools, but not everyone can afford that. It's not fair, but that's the way it is.
When I tell people about the "Language Police" they look at me like I'm crazy, but it is a fact of life. Not only are all signs in French, if there is another language, ANY other language, the lettering must be 1/2 the size fo the French lettering. We just had to remove the bottom half of a beautiful banner we had at the entrance to our daycare, because the "Welcome" sign was the same size as the "Bienvenue". Ridiculous, but true.....
Despite the fact I was born with a very French-Canadian name, I was brought up in English, and have only learned French in school. I consider myself functionally bilingual, but not fluent. I probably understand more than I speak, basically because I am shy speaking another language. I have no choice at work though, I speak French all day there, but at a 3 yr. old's level!
Meanwhile Ben, I have no idea why anyone from Quebec would phone you in Alabama and ask if you sapeak French. Maybe they confused Alabama with Louisiana, who knows?
Hope that answers some of your questions!

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Old October 25th, 2005, 11:00 PM
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Well Donna, that explains the problem you had with your new computer and the French version of XP.

Take care,
Mike
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Old October 26th, 2005, 12:42 AM
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Edited to add: Quite often, Canadians from thousands of miles away try to "explain" the situation in Quebec, as if they are in the know. To those people I say kindly shut up until you have lived the situation. Until then, you know less than nothing on this subject. Language is a contentious issue in Canada, and there are "Ugly Canadians" on both sides of the debate. Parallels have been drawn between Spanish language rights (or lack thereof) in Texas and Florida.[/quote]

Don't you think that's just a little harsh?? I answered Ben & tried to give him an idea what it's like for me as a Canadian that does not live in Quebec to visit there. It can be difficult because I don't speak French at all. He stated that he is "woefully ignorant" about Canada, and I was merely trying to explain that it can also be difficult for fellow Canadians to understand Quebec or to visit that part of our own country due to the language barrier.

I assume (and you may correct me if I've misunderstood) that I am one of those people you wish would kindly shut up, (although I only live hundreds of miles away, not thousands). I don't claim to understand what it's like to live in Quebec or try to run a business with such language barriers, but I am still also a Canadian and take offense at the part of your post you felt compelled to edit to add.
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Old October 26th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Living so close to the border of Quebec I have only a little input. Cruise Critic and RollerDonna summed it up well - as they should as they live there. We on the border follow what goes on in Quebec pretty closely as it effects us and our commerce as well. When I was very young and we went to Quebec there was quite a bit of English spoken and signs had both languages, and many people would speak to you in English. As the seperatist became more passionate about their cause the English disappeared pretty rapidly. Only once in a while do I come across a sales person that can't (or sometimes I think refuses) to try and communicate in English. I have learned enough French to be able to read signs and such so you can figure out where you need to go, enough to shop and read menus...very basic stuff. I'm ashamed of my poor language skills, and feel like I should know more.

The interesting thing is that many people from this side of the border grew up in homes where French was the only language spoken at home. Mostly the generation ahead of me, but even in my classes there were some children that had never been spoken to in English until they came to school on the first day. It was very hard for them. My MIL who has always lived in Vermont grew up in a very French-Canadian home. Only French was spoken. When the family all gets together all of her generation and the children of the oldest siblings in her family speak French, and those few of us who don't understand are pretty much left out of the conversation. Though if you listen long enough you catch on.
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Old October 26th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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When I was on vacation last summer with extended family, there was a Quebec family next to us and all week we didn't communicate. Then, on the final day, it took my three year old to break the ice by saying hi and talking up a storm to them. Then, we stood outside and talked for hours on the final night. They became so warm and freindly towards us. They also were fascinating and informative to talk with. Anyway, it dispelled my stereotype about Quebec people and I wish we had talked sooner. There was only one woman there who had a very good grasp of both languages so could put her thoughts very well into english. The children didn't say a word.
This discussion about how things are in Quebec is quite interesting.
Karen
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Old October 26th, 2005, 08:18 AM
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I thank all that have responded. What you all have said has been an " eye opener " for me as I was truly ignorant of the realities of your lives in Canada and Quebec.
This " language police " is difficult for me to comprehend.
Thanks for the education.

Regards,

Ben
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Old October 26th, 2005, 10:38 AM
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I hope to visit Quebec one day with my eldest daughter who is in French Immersion. FI is becoming quite popular as an alternative-kind of like a private school-type alternative. Don't know if my younger will go into it. It was through NO encouragement from me that the eldest enrolled in Late FI(Gr.6)in Middle School- she decided in Gr.1 that she wanted to take LateFI. There was early(Kindergarten) FI at her elementary school offered. I only took French classes for 5 yrs.in highschool so I do not speak much French at all.
The Language Police thing seems quite ridiculous to me.
When I went on my first cruise there was a Quebec couple seated next to me. He did all the talking saying his girlfriend could not speak English. Well, later in the meal, she did speak and her English was just fine.
I remember last time we went to Bellingham,WA a ?Chinese lady ordered something at the Food Court and the cashier could not understand her so I had to help 'interpret'!lol Here in Vancouver you are quite used to many different accents/languages!
RD- I never knew you spoke so much French!! Good for you!
CC&RD-we could type French in our posts!lol
Brenda on the westcoast of Canada
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Old October 26th, 2005, 12:40 PM
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Rebel> My comments were not directed at you, or any one else posting on this thread for that matter. If you took it that way, I apologise.
My comments are directed at those Canadians who live in B.C., Alberta etc... literally too far away to know anything, never visited or lived here (you have to live here to experience it) but add their comments as if watching Peter Mansbridge for 15 minutes makes them an expert on the subject.

For those who want to visit here, I encourage it. The politics here simmer well below the surface.
The French in Quebec (by my experience) actually draw a BIG distinction between AMERICANS who cannot speak French and their fellow Canadians who speak only English. They will be very patient with Americans, but do not suffer English Canadians too well. In fact, they tend to like Americans. I know I generalize, but it seems to be the rule rather than the exception. I know LOTS of French Quebeckers who are tremendously polite, cultured and hospitable.

Also: To located true French Quebec culture, you have to look hard, and venture out of the cities, perhaps to a Cabane a Sucre (sugar shack). They like to keep their culture to themselves.
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Old October 26th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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Gee- I live on the westcoast..???
The only thing I know about is the Language Police!! I must make sure I take my daughter when I come to visit so I(she) can read all the French signs!!
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