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  #41  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 1:09 PM
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Originally Posted by shreddog View Post
Actually I beg to differ with both of you. Based on the people I know/associate with and the trend of responses from Westerners in this thread, the opposite is true.
This thread is incredibly balanced when it comes to Quebec and the language issue, but you and I and everyone knows that Bill 101 is the number one example that people always use to claim that Quebec is more racist than the rest of Canada. It's the anti-Quebec spectre par excellence.
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  #42  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 1:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Rico Rommheim View Post
Clearly what you don't care about and the reality of World cultures ain't the same my friend. Go tell a British person that the English language doesn't in any represent their culture and that in the future Croatian will become their lingua franca, and that this wont affect them in any way.

Real cultures, with real histories don't work like that. A culture's language is a culture's I.D. card in more ways than one. You can't compare suburban British Columbia with say, Spain.
It's also easy to talk about such linguistic and cultural change from a comfortable perch when it's only looming thousands of km away (or not even that close) or perhaps 100 years into the future.

The prospect of not being able to have your car's maintenance issues explained to you in your language at Canadian Tire, or simply not understanding instructions yelled to passengers by the bus driver, or speaking to medical personnel in a language you barely know, would make all of this hit home a lot sooner if and when they did happen.

Most people who are of the laissez-faire view wouldn't be so zen if this happened during their lifetimes.
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  #43  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 1:25 PM
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Originally Posted by shreddog View Post
To me, language is a temporary aspect of our society, as such I feel the government should not dictate the language of business. That said, the language of government - for now - is English and all businesses need to support that. If, in 50 years, the majority language in Vancouver, BC or Canada is Chinese, then the language of government will be that and our descendants will live in that language. I personally don't care if English, or French, disappears in Canada within the next X generations. It just reflects the continued evolution of our society.

Will the US still be an English country in 100 years or Spanish speaking one? Who knows and who cares. Language does not define a society, it is merely a tool to communicate.
You are underestimating everything that modern societies have put in place in order to make themselves perennial. Today's societies are much more organized and controlled when it comes to officialdom. A huge part of this are our education systems.

In the absence of major social upheaval like warfare or something cataclysmic, most places will be evolving from the base they have at the moment, as opposed to making a 180-degree turn.

The transformation of Dantzig into Gdansk in a few decades is not going to happen in Canada, no matter what.

Taking the classic example on our landmass, Miami is not going to be a city that functions in Spanish like Montreal functions in French. It will be an American city that functions in English with a strong, distinctive Latin American feel. Just like Lafayette, Louisiana is an American city that functions in English with a strong, distinctive French/Acadian/Cajun feel.

As for Vancouver, it could become an ethnically Chinese majority city I guess but barrring an annexation by the PRC, Chinese will never be the predominant language of the city. The vast majority of young Chinese-Canadians that grow up in Vancouver can't even read Chinese!
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  #44  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 1:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Ding ding ding! We have a winner. That's the absolute truth.

You'd have to do two separate polls, but you've correctly predicted what the results of those two polls would be.
That's why I mentioned in my OP that people should keep in mind what they said about Quebec's language laws.

I feel that the strong hostility toward Quebec's language laws do not necessarily stem from a principled stand on multiculturalism or linguistic policy, but rather that some of it is based on a mix of: (a) a selfish interest to have English everywhere for convenience purposes, and (b) animosity toward the status of French.

Of course, many have a principled stand on language policy, which I totally respect.
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  #45  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 1:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
It's kinda hard to order, though, if the menu is all in Chinese characters that you can't read.
Have you been to any Chinese signage restaurants in Canada? I've been to several in Markham. Just ask for some help, the folks there are more than eager to help out. Granted, you have to sometimes put up with broken / accented English, but I've never had a problem, and I don't know a word of Mandarin or Cantonese.

edit- meant any, not all.

Last edited by saffronleaf; Oct 21, 2014 at 2:11 PM.
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  #46  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 1:38 PM
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Originally Posted by saffronleaf View Post
That's why I mentioned in my OP that people should keep in mind what they said about Quebec's language laws.

I feel that the strong hostility toward Quebec's language laws do not necessarily stem from a principled stand on multiculturalism or linguistic policy, but rather that some of it is based on a mix of: (a) a selfish interest to have English everywhere for convenience purposes, and (b) animosity toward the status of French.

Of course, many have a principled stand on language policy, which I totally respect.
And of course some of the people in Quebec who snicker at such debates in Anglo-Canada aren't necessarily filled with the most noble of intentions either.
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  #47  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 1:43 PM
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Originally Posted by saffronleaf View Post
Have you been to all Chinese signage restaurants in Canada? I've been to several in Markham. Just ask for some help, the folks there are more than eager to help out. Granted, you have to sometimes put up with broken / accented English, but I've never had a problem, and I don't know a word of Mandarin or Cantonese.
I've never been made to feel unwelcome in any "ethnic" business anywhere in Canada.

As for these kinds of restaurants, I've been to one in Vancouver and once or twice in the GTA. In all cases we had a person who could read Chinese with us.

I agree with you that being welcomed and accommodated is rarely an issue, although for some people who can't read Chinese it would likely be intimidating and uncomfortable to be put in this situation nonetheless. So they would not even bother to try.

I've also been told very seriously by people who can read Chinese that some places have two menus and the Chinese menu is often better and cheaper than the one in English. I've also heard that this is an urban legend so...
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  #48  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 1:49 PM
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Originally Posted by RyLucky View Post

Quebec clearly has a different experience with language laws, and has been bathing in a context of french v english for two hundred years. I'll admit that most Westerners do not understand the Quebec-specific issue related to language and immigration. However, Quebecers/Québécois should know that when westerners hear Gilles Duceppe/PQ/BQ and other Quebec politicians relate immigration to ghettos, ban minority religion dress and custom in public, etc, we think of how these attitudes/policies would be interpreted in our culture, and the conclusion is that these attitudes/policies are considered extremely (unacceptably so) conservative. Of course, I don't mean to paint all of Quebec with one brush; I know there are many stances on this issue. Nonetheless, these conservative attitudes seem to be tolerated in Quebec more so than they are in the rest of Canada, probably because French speaking people see themselves in the defensive position, which I understand, but it makes for a delicate and uncomfortable issue from the outside.

The very fact that this forum is using English excludes certain viewpoints and gives privilege to some potential contributors over others. I'm sure there is somewhere on the internet where this issue is being discussed in Mandarin and French with very different attitudes prevalent.
Gilles Duceppe was against the charter, like the VAST MAJORITY of Quebec politicians. I have never heard Duceppe talk negatively against immigrants or their rights.
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  #49  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:07 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
language gives us our vocabulary and idiomatic structure, as well as the symbols available to express our worldview. it is not a mere "plug-in" that can be applied or removed, with no effect, from the legal and cultural outline (20th century liberal/capitalist individualism) that you have outlined above.
The classic apocryphal example being the claim that Inuktitut and other extreme northern indigenous languages have multiple words for different kinds of snow.

But more seriously, once you become fluent in more than one language, you are more sensitized to how each one really has its own world-view.

Just thinking of the various words for woman: from the utilitarian frau in German to the soft powder-puff femme in French to the elegant dona in Italian to the macho-infused borderline rough word mujer in Spanish.

Consider that the word in Spanish for pregnant is embarazada.

In Italian the word for left is sinistra.

Gives you a little bit of insight into the ethos of the people who speak those languages, and of those who speak ours.

Language is not a neutral binary code.
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  #50  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:19 PM
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French-speaking people, in Canada or in Europe I'd say, are known for being less PC than anglos. Our language also reflects this, and all of these terms for example are OK for use in polite company, in media reports and articles, etc.:

cul-de-sac (the ass of the bag): dead end

cul-de-jatte (someone who's ass is in the form of a bowl): actual official term for a person with no legs

nègre: ghost writer

Dix Petits Nègres: still the official French title in 2014 of the Agatha Christie story And Then There Were None.
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  #51  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:27 PM
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danish, amusingly, has no word for "please".

sometimes they get a bit shy over this and say things like "i guess you must think of us as rude."

"thank you" is "tak," which u.k. english borrowed (this may be too nice a word for what went on then) in viking times. today it still exists as "ta".
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  #52  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:36 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
danish, amusingly, has no word for "please".

sometimes they get a bit shy over this and say things like "i guess you must think of us as rude."

"thank you" is "tak," which u.k. english borrowed (this may be too nice a word for what went on then) in viking times. today it still exists as "ta".
There is no word in French for "jaywalking". If you want to say it you have to make an awkward phrase like "traverser la rue alors que ce n'est pas permis" or something like that.

Also, interestingly English does not have an official concrete equivalent for the French "dépaysé", which literally means "decountryfied". The closest would probably be the idiomatic "to feel like a fish out of water". I guess it is because people who speak English feel at home everywhere!
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  #53  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:36 PM
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It's legal to do it in Quebec. English is not only an official language of Canada but that spoken by the majority of its citizens.

My issue with this is that allowing such signage to continue is just a further step towards isolating a community. Why venture outside of your community if you have no need to and can't function outside of it anyway ? There's tolerance and then there's a lack of common sense. This can only end one way if something's not done about it now. Either Richmond wants to be a part of Canada or a Chinese colony. Seems to me that it wants to be part of Canada so English (or French for that matter) should be present on those signs. Canada isn't China. I should know since I currently reside in China.

Historically, groups that didn't integrate were distrusted and eventually oppressed. You don't have to search very far and wide to find an example but the most prominent one that comes to mind is Jews in Europe. Granted, we didn't ask to be mistreated but part of it was that we often refused to integrate if it could be helped. That didn't change much until the 19th century and by then it was too late.
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  #54  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
The classic apocryphal example being the claim that Inuktitut and other extreme northern indigenous languages have multiple words for different kinds of snow.

But more seriously, once you become fluent in more than one language, you are more sensitized to how each one really has its own world-view.

Just thinking of the various words for woman: from the utilitarian frau in German to the soft powder-puff femme in French to the elegant dona in Italian to the macho-infused borderline rough word mujer in Spanish.

Consider that the word in Spanish for pregnant is embarazada.

In Italian the word for left is sinistra.

Gives you a little bit of insight into the ethos of the people who speak those languages, and of those who speak ours.

Language is not a neutral binary code.
Language is culture in many respects.

The other day I was over at Ayreonaut's place drinking a few beer. He was watching football and kindly switched it over to Mrs. Brown's Boys between score checks for my benefit.

One of the characters said, "She's after having a close encounter of the willie kind." and Ayreonaut perked up: "She used Newfoundland past tense."

I hadn't even consciously noticed it happening.

That's a little bit of a culture clash, based solely and completely on language.
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  #55  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:39 PM
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This thread needs a poll. Yes. No. Or it would be the proper thing to do. My vote's for the latter. Not sure whose fault it is, but Chinese do not interact with this city very well. There is obviously some resentment aimed towards the Chinese community, you can see it in various comments sections. A friendly gesture is needed here.
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  #56  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Also, interestingly English does not have an official concrete equivalent for the French "dépaysé", which literally means "decountryfied". The closest would probably be the idiomatic "to feel like a fish out of water". I guess it is because people who speak English feel at home everywhere!


yet on the other hand, we have no exact translation for "chez".
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  #57  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:53 PM
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Language is culture in many respects.

The other day I was over at Ayreonaut's place drinking a few beer. He was watching football and kindly switched it over to Mrs. Brown's Boys between score checks for my benefit.

One of the characters said, "She's after having a close encounter of the willie kind." and Ayreonaut perked up: "She used Newfoundland past tense."

I hadn't even consciously noticed it happening.

That's a little bit of a culture clash, based solely and completely on language.
Languages evolve, morph and sometimes die out, and there is not much you can do about it. It's a natural process.

On the other hand, even if is totally normal, when they do die out I am of the view that something is lost.

Frédéric Mistral won the Nobel prize for literature barely more than 100 years ago writing in Provençal, and today probably barely 2% of the population of Provence could read his works. In 50 years there will be no one but a handful of scholars that will be able to read it.

On the other hand my kids can easily understand songs and writings from 13th century France with little to no interpretation required.
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  #58  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 2:57 PM
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Yeah, it's sad. Walking downtown with Aisling (from Ireland), she can read all the old Newfoundland Irish names.

I knew, for example, that Talamh an Éisc meant "Newfoundland" - but to hear Aisling pronounce it passing a restaurant with that name... I had NO idea it sounded so beautiful. It's something like thalla-van-ice. I want to record her saying it before she goes back to Dublin just to keep it handy.

*****

And another example of change, as opposed to loss. Her name. It's spawned two names in Newfoundland. In Ireland, it's written Aisling and pronounced Ash-ling.

Here, we have the name Aisling, but it's pronounced Ains-lee. We also have the name Ashling.
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  #59  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 3:02 PM
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Largely agree with Metro. Have signs predominantly in Chinese if so desired, but those signs must also have the same in English on them.
Agreed. In HK many have the same and it helps immensely.
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  #60  
Old Posted Oct 21, 2014, 3:03 PM
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Yeah, it's sad. Walking downtown with Aisling (from Ireland), she can read all the old Newfoundland Irish names.

I knew, for example, that Talamh an Éisc meant "Newfoundland" - but to hear Aisling pronounce it passing a restaurant with that name... I had NO idea it sounded so beautiful. I want to record her saying it before she goes back to Dublin just to keep it handy.

*****

And another example of change, as opposed to loss. Her name. It's spawned two names in Newfoundland. In Ireland, it's written Aisling and pronounced Ash-ling.

Here, we have the name Aisling, but it's pronounced Ains-lee. We also have the name Ashling.
Ireland's another good example. I know they've undergone a Gaelic revival of sorts (including in the literary field) but it's still a steep uphill climb. For most of the Irish population a good chunk of their cultural heritage (ie anything language-related) is still somewhat alien to them, or at least quite far in the background when compared to stuff in English like Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, etc. For example.
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