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Canada has two official languages.

There, in five words, I’ve threatened to open one of the biggest cans of worms in the entire Canadian experience: the uneasy coexistence of French Canada with English Canada. (I personally think that, overall, the existence of two strong cultural groups is a good thing — it just isn’t a ‘simplifying’ thing. It’s definitely a pervasive thing, though: five years ago Graham Fraser (Commissioner of Official Languages) was quoted as saying “…I think that language is at the core of Canadian experience.”)

No one really understands all the nuances of French/English interactions, of course. Mostly everyone gets along but there can be… flare ups. Posturing politicians. Brawls in doughnut shops. Referenda on secession. Stuff. Millions of words have been written on the subject. It’ll probably still be a thing in the 23rd century.

I have nothing to add to that mountain of words — no insights, no epiphanies, no enlightenment.


All I’ll say is that the 1945 trope namer says some things worth hearing. Well, that and an experience in a restaurant in Sherbrooke told me something about it. Or maybe it was just something about me — I can’t be sure.

After the end of ‘Numbering‘ we were (a) in Canada, (b) in Quebec and (c) hungry. Just down the road, though, were accommodations and two hundred and sixty-five places that would be happy to feed us.

We dithered a bit (well, I did — dithering is usually a job I volunteer for) and decided on a place named after a remote province in Vietnam. (Well, either that or a corporation that sells seafood.)  I was a little apprehensive about potential language issues but I almost always worry more than is absolutely necessary. And I wasn’t really worried anyway: I can read French well enough and menus are usually kid stuff.

There was no translation of the menu needed, though, because it consisted entirely of photographs of the various dishes; you were supposed to point at the one you wanted. Despite the simplicity of the process, the obvious helplessness and incompetence of this particular maudit anglais shone like a beacon and my hostess felt the need to explain to me in her broken English (probably at least her third language) how to use a menu. It took me a while but eventually I got it.

Language doesn’t always have to be a problem. And dinner was excellent.


The Author

Rose Glace is the pseudonym of nobody important.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Signing – Rose Glace's Blog

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