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Part of the problem is likely the way French is taught in non-immersion elementary and high schools, with overwhelming emphasis on verb conjugation and grammatical minutiae to the exclusion of almost all else. Classroom opportunities for speaking and listening comprehension are infrequent. Students who grow up in predominantly English-speaking areas and have little to no contact with French speakers (that describes the majority of the students in the country, myself included), and who do very well in their French classes because they are able to conjugate verbs in 12 different tenses and memorize the genders of nouns and such, may consider themselves practically bilingual. I know I did, foolishly, back when I was in high school. Until I graduated, that is, when I finally moved away and met native speakers and realized I could barely even have a simple conversation with them in French about the weather. I imagine many other people were in the same boat as I was. This kind of uneven knowledge quickly leads to frustration when you're finally exposed to spoken French in the real world, and likely discourages many people from making any further effort. If elementary- and high-school French classes prepared students a little better for everyday conversations, perhaps more students would be inclined to speak French later.

An anecdote and some observations:

-I was in full French immersion from K-5. My French oral communicative competence in grade 5 would likely have been similar to a native speaker of French of a year or two my junior. My reading, would have been about two or three years behind a NSF, and my vocabulary would have been more constrained and my grammar not as accurate.

I really haven't used French except for four or five occasions for the last 25 years. But two years ago, when I went to France, I was buoyed by the fact that I understood most of what was said to me. When I tried to speak, though, my third language, Japanese, in which I'm reasonably fluent, kept intruding, and I could say almost nothing. Never mind the grammar, the vocabulary simply wouldn't come.

Language attrition is a well documented phenomenon, the same kind of use it or loose it skill that applies to other skills (though less so in a well-established first language).

There is little evidence to support declining language skills with age until much later in life, and then only really with dementia. In a regularly used language, our vocabulary actually continues to grow throughout our lives.

The idea that it is easier to learn languages when one is young is a fuzzy one and mostly wrong. When children start learning a language at a young age and continue to be immersed in it, their eventual level of attainment will be equal to or similar to a native speaker of that language, unlike people who start learning as adults. But a competent motivated adult with the right resources will typically learn much faster INITIALLY at least, than a child, especially in instructed (as opposed to naturalistic) situations. Beyond adolescence, however, there is no research I'm aware of comparing language acquisition at different ages.

Brett: "The idea that it is easier to learn languages when one is young is a fuzzy one and mostly wrong."

Yet this idea informs the early-100%-French immersion that dominates our schools.

"Beyond adolescence, however, there is no research I'm aware of comparing language acquisition at different ages."

I find this remarkable. If that's true, then critical aspects of bilingualism policy, i.e. when to devote resources to language training for public servants, are being made in a fact-free void?

Corey - yup, been there, done that. My sense is that my kids have had much better French instruction than I had, but that might just be the fact that they've been raised in Ottawa, whereas I grew up in Vancouver.

I spent my formative years living in the Eastern Townships and still think of it as 'home'. That thesis looks interesting. The English minority there has been in decline for 40 years. Some of it carefully engineered by the QC governments language policy, but mostly because of the decline of the family farm. Sad state of affairs. The areas closest to Montreal have been taken over by rich people building gigantic week-end manors. I suppose it helps keep the trout streams pristine ... not like anyone else is going to do anything with the land.

For me, it's definitely decline due to disuse. It's been 9 years since the last time French was part of my daily life. But disuse is at least somewhat voluntary, since when I speak to someone else who's bilingual, we generally opt for English. My discomfort in French is much greater than my (francophone) in-laws discomfort in English. Since they live in Alberta and use English for absolutely everything outside the house.

I would seriously debate whether to fill in a census form as bilingual, since if a unilingual francophone stopped by my house for a chat, I wouldn't be able to participate much. But last time I was in France, I found that it took less than a week to get up to a conversational level. It's all there, it's just rusty.

"First, when hiring candidates for a job requiring extensive training and prior experience - say a supreme court justice - it might be wise to compromise on bilingualism requirements in order to get the best possible candidate, given the low rates of bilingualism among middle-aged Canadians."

I find this argument totally unconvincing Frances, especially if you spin it on its head and you argue that "given the high number of bilingual Quebec candidates, you could exclude the unilingual French ones from the start". Of course it wouldn't make sense to make it a stated policy, but somehow that's the way it works (and not just for Supreme Court judges). That's bilingualism as a one-way street: it's hypocritical and it sends the wrong message.

And don't get me started on the plight of the historical anglo minority in the Townships. Yes it's a shame that it's disappearing, but the elderly English speakers have a much better access to English-language services than, say, the disappearing French language communities in Manitoba or Ontario. And they're much more likely to have neighbours, nurses and doctors in French institutions that understand their language. My guess is that their life is not much harder linguistically than that of a francophone in Montreal's West Island (my case).

Guillaume,

Your point frames the issue from a perspective I hadn't thought about: unilingual francophones are punished in the labour market, unilingual anglophones aren't. In fact, there's empirical evidence that this is the case, e.g. this piece in Canadian Public Policy.

My concern is that future federal governments will just give up all hope of ever satisfying the competing demands different language groups and just solve the problem of language inequity in the federal public service by getting rid of the public service. Are you old enough to remember the days when a town would just have a few, publicly-operated, post offices? The staff were unionized, decently paid, and often bilingual. Now retail postal services have mostly been contracted out to franchisees, and service in both official languages is rarely available. It's actually one of the biggest sources of complaints to the official languages commissioner.

I doubt I'll persuade you, or you'll persuade me, on judges, so let's just agree to disagree.

Hi Frances,

Growing up, I actually had a rather big post office in my hometown (later shut down in the mid-90s). You have a good point about privatizing services to avoid complying with the law; I can imagine how hard it is to get service in French in a drugstore outside Quebec (and I guess English service in some parts of Quebec).

If I recall well, within Quebec the income distribution goes something like this (in descending order): bilingual franco, bilingual anglo, unilingual anglo, unilingual franco. The "bilingualism premium" is almost twice as large for francophones than it is anglophones. Now if the paper you quote is accurate and the premium is non-existent for anglophones outside Quebec, you have one of the countries' fundamental features that is not reflected economically at the individual level. It's not outrageous per se, but if it doesn't make economic sense it should at least make political/symbolic sense, no? (...)

(...) Stephen Harper seems is a living proof that you can learn a second language at an advanced age, if the perceived gains are large enough. The message he sends is that you can't reach the pinnacle of the hierarchy without being bilingual and I believe the same should be true of the Supreme Court, given its very large political role. But then we can agree to disagree and I can wish you a good weekend!

Actually I recall the Post Office workers gave me my very first piggy bank (a mailbox), perhaps it stimulated my interest for economics.

Dear Frances:
Laws have been, at the federal level, bilingual since 1867. And they are not translation: each version is the full law.Any party can invoke any side anytime at will. Saying a judge should be evaluated on its legal ability not its language? Law is written in language. Judgments are written and interpreted in language. Saying a Supreme Court Judge doesn't need both language ia like "They are a very good crew. Apart from the flight engineer not understanding the flight manual and the pilot not speaking to control. And the mechanics who just studied about the black wires."
In Belgium and Finland, whatever the level of animosity between the two nations, judges must be bilingual (french-flemish and finish-swedish).
When unilingual John Major testified how satisfied he was of the translation he got of the french arguments, the only possible sane reaction should have been: " How can he possibly knows?" Many lawyers who argued in french in front of the Supreme Ct testified how botched the translations sometimes are.
Anyway, if you want to become a bank president, you study accounting and economics. You don't come back thirty years later braying that your didn't knew it was important and how unjustly you are penalised. Otherwise , I am ready to perform heart surgery on any unianglo volunteer...

Remember how Trudeau brought bilingualism in the early '70's? The first idea was bilingual districts. That is, every franco areas were designated bilingual. The point being a guarantee that anglos would get full service everywhere. It had nothing to do with french rights or biculturalism for everyone. Just reassure the angryphones ( WestIsland Gazette reading blue rinse set) that not much would change, no matter what got in the natives heads.
Multicuralism? Reassure the Wasp that the immigrants would safely reamin in their ghettos and that the "other minority" would assimilate in time, just like them...

Still today , in the labor market, speaking french have almost no effect on an anglo worker position or income. Speaking english brings an educated franco almost to its educationnal level. A low qulification unifranco remains what he is (a ff)...
Claude Picher , the La Presse economics columnist who gets almost everything wrong, wrote a couple a days ago
http://lapresseaffaires.cyberpresse.ca/opinions/chroniques/claude-picher/201103/01/01-4374835-une-nation-de-futurs-petits-salaries.php?

He has the numbers but misinterprest. Bilingualism does not bring you benefits. Being educated and speaking english rise a franco's station, is all...

I miss the trout streams and the colour of the leaves in the fall. And Montreal (especially the restaurants). But my God how I don't miss Quebec language politics. Or the taxes.

Patrick, nobody likes language politics. You had the choice to leave it behind. Those who value French in Canada don't have the same option, simple as that.

To bring it back to economics, it's exactly the way Albert Hirschman describes it in this terrific little book that I just got my hands on: Exit, Voice and Loyalty.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exit,_Voice,_and_Loyalty

As for taxes, that's a whole other debate.

I don't think that the ease of learning assumption is really the one behind French immersion. As I said, it's fuzzy. What do people mean by easier? My Japanese vocabulary still outstrips my 9-year old's Japanese vocabulary even though he's a native speaker (albeit raised mostly in Canada). But I still make errors that he doesn't, and have a slight English accent that I can't get rid of that he doesn't. If he were to move to Japan, he'd end up indistinguishable from a native speaker of Japanese, and I never would.

So we have to distinguish between speed of learning and ultimate attainment. Then there are the different components/skills: vocab (which doesn't seem to favour the young), pronunciation (which clearly does) and grammar (which is in the middle). There's also a difference between instructed situations (which favour adults) and naturalistic learning (which favours children, but probably because of social constraints facing adults rather than cognitive constraints).

On the other hand, it's very clear that after three or four years of early French immersion, students are equal in content courses like science and math, equal in English, and way ahead in French.

"Laws have been, at the federal level, bilingual since 1867. And they are not translation: each version is the full law.Any party can invoke any side anytime at will. Saying a judge should be evaluated on its legal ability not its language? Law is written in language. Judgments are written and interpreted in language."

Jacques,

That's all very true. And that's why, at the Supreme court, 1/3 of the judges are from Quebec (by law, and typically you have another francophone judge from one of Ontario, New Brunswick or Manitoba, by practice) and every panel has at least one francophone judge (and typically several, somewhat, bilingual judges - though query whether they are functionally bilingual in legal terms). While no one disputes that the ability to read the french versions of statutes is helpful (since, that's sometimes useful in clarifying statutory ambiguity), it clearly isn't strictly indispensible when there's an equally intelligent judge sitting right next to you who can. The question is, should that be a deal-breaker? Or should judges be assessed on the basis of the entire package they bring to the court, of which being functionally legally bilingual is just one asset (albeit an important one, which is probably why there are few unilingual anglophone judges).

Let me put it to you a different way, in addition to having two different languages, Canada also has two different private law legal systems. In English Canada, we follow the common-law, in Quebec, you follow the civil law. And this has important implications (consider, if you will, federal tax law, most of it relies on private law concepts to give it meaning. But unless you want it to be interpreted differently in respect of taxpayers in Quebec and taxpayers in common-law Canada, it needs to be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with the private law realities in both legal regimes). By your logic, judges on the Supreme Court should have training in both legal systems, in order to fully understand the implications of the decisions they're making (and note, this isn't something that a translator, no matter how good, can help you with.) Of course, in practice, no one does that, both because very few lawyers receive training in both legal regimes, and even fewer practice in both. And we resolve the problem not by demanding that all judges have civil law training, but by insisting that three judges on the court be from Quebec.

Moreover, the proposal to require judges to be bilingual isn't realistic. Outside of Quebec, there just isn't enough French spoken for many (most) lawyers to become functionally fluent in French (and, again, the key point is functionally fluency. I've lived and gone to school in France and can read, understand and make myself understood in French, but I have no illusions about being able to follow a court hearing or technical legal arguments in French). Given that, it's unrealistic to expect those lawyers to be functionally fluent in French. I still can't figure out why people think this is a problem, we've managed 136 years without a requirement that SCC judges be bilingual, without anarchy erupting, why do we need to change? (And, for what it's worth, it's only in the last 62 years that the SCC was the final court of appeal in Canada, for the first 82 years of Canada's history, the final court of appeal was the decidedly unilingual privy counsel in London).

Incidentally, I gather from one of my colleagues who went to McGill that, in Quebec, both the English and French versions of Quebec statutes are equally authoritative (which came as a surprise to me, but there you go). By your reasoning, shouldn't it be a requirement that Quebec judges be fluently bilingual in both English and French to be appointed to the bench (I'm sure, in practice, many of them are, but I note that no such requirement is imposed under the Courts of Justice Act (Quebec), and I don't imagine that many francophones would be impressed if that requirement were added). Or should we just leave well enough alone.


"You had the choice to leave it behind. Those who value French in Canada don't have the same option"

C'est vrai. Les Quebecois et Quebecoise qui ont, grace a la loi 101, jamais eu la chance d'apprendre l'anglais ont beaucoup moins d'options (sorry my grammar is rusty and I'm typing on a US english keyboard so accents are a pain).

But, who says I don't value French in Canada?! Quebec language politics and the preservation/promotion of French have very little to do with one another.

Jacques -


thanks for that reference, I didn't know that Quebec was thinking about introducing more English instruction (if I understand correctly, the proposal is for every student to spend part of 6th grade in intensive English instruction?). On the salary figures quoted - given the huge demographic differences (age, education, social class, part of the province people live in) between the various groups it's hard to know what to make of them, but it's interesting nonetheless: francophones bilingues:38 851$. Anglo-Québécois bilingues, 38 745$. Anglos unilingues 34 097$. allophones qui parlent les deux langues (et souvent, dans leur cas, une troisième)33 097$. francophones unilingues 29 665$.

I'm surprised allophones earn that much, actually.

The politics of that are fascinating. But I suspect unilingual francophones face much the same challenges as kids from small towns everywhere in Canada - it's hard to get an education, and there are just very few good jobs. How much language training will help is an open question.

Guillaume: "It's not outrageous per se, but if it [becoming bilingual] doesn't make economic sense it should at least make political/symbolic sense, no?" Yes, I guess it does - but there's other competing symbols - e.g. Canada as part of the Pacific Rim. Quebec is a long ways away. I have one small relative out west who - despite having a francophone grandparent - is currently fighting against her parents' efforts to enroll her in French immersion.

And it's so discouraging - once my daughter was giving a public speech at a rally (long story) and she wanted to say a few words in French. She asked a prominent local francophone if her pronunciation was o.k. and was told "you should just stick to English." And her accent is really not bad (yes, I'm one of those proud parents who tick the both box).

Bob, thanks for the legal perspective.

C'est très bien pour ton français Patrick.

I don't know you more than what I've read from you here; I'm sorry if you interpreted my comment as saying that you don't value French in Canada.

We could argue forever about the pros and cons of Bill 101, bilingualism and so on. I was just saying that if you want to live your life in French (working, studying, getting services, etc.) politics are going to come into play sooner or later, even within Quebec (never mind what it is in other provinces). And speaking/writing English perfectly has little to do with this.

Bob,

Quebec has only French as an official language, whereas Canada is officially bilingual. Your argument about Quebec judges doesn't make any sense. Citizens are entitled to a trial in their language wherever they are in Canada, that doesn't mean every single judge should be able to speak both languages. But when it comes to the Supreme Court there is really no alternative: there's only nine judges and they rule jointly. And translation isn't enough apparently:

http://www.lawyersweekly.ca/index.php?section=article&articleid=1171

As for things being ok for 136 years, well that's not the whole story right?

"Another explanation is that people's language skills decline when they are not used. This seems obvious and uncontroversial. Yet, if true, the "lost because unused" theory implies that people rarely have conversations in the other official language, even if they would like to do so. In this regard, it is interesting that bilingualism rates for those 40 and older appear to be slightly higher in 1986 than 2006 (I haven't tested to see if this difference is statistically significant). During the past 25 years, Canada's population has being moving west, where less French is spoken, which might explain some of this decline in language fluency."

There is nothing unusual about people wanting to have conversations in French and not being able to. Outside of the National Capital Region, west of Smiths Falls and Carleton Place, that is exactly what happens to anybody who learns French in school, Immersion or not. Ottawa and Montreal are in the Bilingualism Belt and aren't typical of either the rest of French or English Canada.

After high school if you get a job in the private sector in English Canada you'll likely never use French again. Skills degrade over time. In such an environment a French Immersion student won't be able to keep conversational French by 30.

The Public Service of Canada is unusual in having very formal and demanding levels of French requirements. I've taken their language tests, miraculously I got a B standard, though I didn't have to do the Oral component, which has a fearsome reputation. I had digested a French grammar textbook for the previous two weeks. I live in a small town in Central Ontario and there was nobody to practice French speaking skills with. The French teachers in the schools all have day jobs.

Friends in the Public Service have told me that even having Immersion or having taken French in university is no guarantee of language ability when it comes to those tests. Abilities do degrade.

FWIW I'm looking for a job in the Public Service, good language results are real asset. "BBB Imperative" is par for the course for Public Service jobs in Ottawa. It also makes the line shorter. If the stars align one of my priorities is to get French lessons on my own bill and time to bring me up to CCC standard, CBC on a bad day. It's rocket fuel for one's career.

BTW CBC is the usual standard for executive, the B being oral, the C's are reading and written expression.

"Here's a picture, based on 2006 Census data, showing the percentage of non-Francophones in each age group who are bilingual, that is, who answered "both" in response to the question: "Can this person speak English or French well enough to conduct a conversation?

* * *

"The 1986 and 2006 numbers, taken together, imply that people gain knowledge of both English and French up until their late teens, and then gradually lose it."

There may well be a problem with self-reporting. If people are not used to conversing in a second language, they may not be aware of how well they can do. Also, what has been forgotten can be relearned quickly. I have heard that a period of two weeks is normally enough to recover conversational ability in a second language.

IMX, I lived in Japan in my youth. Almost 20 years later I never carried on a conversation in Japanese, and if someone who spoke both Japanese and English said something to me in Japanese, I would hem and haw and then reply in English. Then I went to Japan, and, to my surprise instantly carried on conversations in Japanese. I had forgotten some vocabulary, but could finesse that. However, if I had been given a questionnaire a week before asking if I could carry on a conversation in Japanese, I would have answered no.

If you want to find out if someone is fluent in French, don't ask them if they are. Better to talk with them in French.

"Then again, the latest medical research suggests that being fluent in more than one language delays the onset of Alzheimer's by up to four years - which is one pretty good reason to gain and keep those language skills."

Well, maybe. There is also research from years ago that indicates that the grammatical complexity of one's utterances (at around age 20, though the specific age probably does not matter much, if at all) is negatively correlated with Alzheimer's symptoms in later life. Language skill is an indicator. As for language training, . . .


Requiring that all lawyers be bilingual is irrealistic and useless. So is requiring that the guy in South Podunk SK be a constitutionnal scholar. But if your goal is a high legal position( and the ability you know you have is sufficient to bring you there) then get the required training. If you want to be a bush pilot, fine. If you want to captain a 777 in a terminal zone, understand the controller. Lifting iron is not hockey. You need the muscle to play. Enough analogies.

Bob and Patrick:
Québec judge are bilinguals. Like anyone going to university, half your books are in english.
3 Supreme Ct members must be from the Québec bar so they know the Civil Code, not french. How can the 6 non-civilists can render judgment on laws they don't know and never practice is beyond me but par for the course. And I repeat myself : not only Quebec laws but federal Canadian ones are eqully valid in each language.
The Charter of the French language doesn't prevent anyone from learninig english. It only specifies that non-citizens must go to french schools, a standard far more lenient than anywhere else in the world. A German going to Geneva must go to french school, a French in Zurich must go in german. No one thinks it of a violation of some fundamental right of immigrants deciding the law and culture of the land does not fit them. And contrary to Canada, the language you speak in Switzerland do not determine your income and your status. As The Economist once wrote: "Canada is the only country in the world where speaking french does not mark you as a member of the superior class."

For most Anglos, learning french is a hassle. The kind of things upper-middle class parents inflict on their children to show the neighbors they are rich enough and don't need the kids feeding the chickens for the family to survive. Like ballet and the swim team, you are surprised they like it and make it a career choice. Or in the immortal words of Peter Worthington : "French is a requirement for the upper federal civil service. Little Susie will learn it the way she would learn chainsaw juggling if required. With grim determination and without enthusiasm."
Allophones in Québec frequently, like my Chilean and Lebanese sister-in-laws, have three languages because, unlike in ROC, it is not clear which language is sufficient. No one in Ontario has an hesitation : learninig french for an immigrant in Toronto is like going to the Bronx,paint yourself in blackface and speak jive. Goes against the program...

When you cross languages and qualification, what you get is always the same: english improves the lot of educated francos, if only because to get qualified you must be bilingual. For the francos. education. english and income-status are colinear. And unavoidable.

Unilingual anglos can't get in the Quebec civil service. God knows how The Gazette rants about that. As if there was a huge pent-up desire among the Gazette-CFCF audience for pledging an oath of loyalty to Québec...I worked in the West Island riding office of an Anglo MNA ( provincial MP). A perfect bilingual gentleman. I learned to hide my name from the constituents. And in the end , I learned that my boss was what the South Africans black called a "verligte" (enlightened). "Scratch a verligte and you'll find a Boer". OK it was 30 years ago but still.

Frances: I feel your dishearteningment ( I had to forge a word..) but so often hearing an Anglo trying his french is either
a) horribly painful to contemplate and you wish to end the pain of an innocent well-meaning person toward which you bear no ill will
or
b) you want to end the sight of somebody manifestly condescending to the natives(anyone from Macleans excepting Paul Wells and CFCF apart from John Grant).
In the end you mostly try to avoid the situation. Call it the avoidance sequel of canadian linguistic PTSD.
Collateral damages sometimes ensues.
Ray Conlogue had some nice passsages on that in "Impossible Nation".

http://www.amazon.ca/Impossible-nation-longing-homeland-Canada/dp/1551280337

The G&M recalled him for having gone native.

Language is to Canada what sex, politics and money are elsewhere: subjects to be avoided at the dinner table...

It would be interesting to isolate the 1 million or so anglo- and allophone Quebecers born in Canada from the population you used.

Migration patterns, a public policy generating a generation of "enfants de la Loi 101" (Children of Bill 101) obviously had an impact on the number of non-francophones speaking French in Quebec. One would assume the number of older (non-franco, born in Canada) folks speaking French in Quebec aged 40 in 2006 is much higher than the Canadian average of 9% and has probably trended upwards since 1986. Nowadays, 90% of non-francophones in Quebec have a degree of command of the French language, according to figures quoted this week in the Quebec press.

This increase of French language proficiency among Quebec anglo/allo population would in turn lower the proportion of non-francophone bilinguals in the ROC.

Bouchecl - "It would be interesting to isolate the 1 million or so anglo- and allophone Quebecers born in Canada from the population you used." Yes, definitely.

Jacques - love the chainsaw juggling image

I never said anything about the Supreme Court.

"but so often hearing an Anglo trying his french is either ... "

Oh brother. And once they go through the hassle, as you say, of learning French this is how you reward the effort. Classy.

"The Charter of the French language doesn't prevent anyone from learninig english"

Strictly speaking, no. How many English immersion students have there been in QC in the last 35 years?

In any case, I can't get too excited about it because Bill 101 actually served me very well. Though it has imposed some unfortunate restrictions on francophone Quebecers (see Frances' comment above about unilingual francophones and the labour market). But that's no my problem.

Jacques writes:

The Charter of the French language doesn't prevent anyone from learninig english. It only specifies that non-citizens must go to french schools, a standard far more lenient than anywhere else in the world. A German going to Geneva must go to french school, a French in Zurich must go in german. No one thinks it of a violation of some fundamental right of immigrants deciding the law and culture of the land does not fit them. And contrary to Canada, the language you speak in Switzerland do not determine your income and your status. As The Economist once wrote: "Canada is the only country in the world where speaking french does not mark you as a member of the superior class."

No, Bill 101 rode roughshod over the rights of the English-speaking minority in Quebec, my family among them. Rights that had been protected as far back as 1867, which was what the dual-language requirement for Quebec laws was all about. Bill 101 restricted the rights of English-Canadians to move to Quebec and receive schooling in English. Access to English schools in Quebec was restricted to the children of parents who had been educated in Quebec in English. It therefore put a recruitment cap on the Quebec English community. That bill had real effects which where deliberate assaults on the English community.

The United Church of Canada has a preponderance of English-speaking clergy. Those rural United Churches in the Ottawa Valley and Eastern Townships, like United Church congregations in the Maritimes and the Prairies, are reliant on the Transfer & Settlement of ministers from other Conferences and in particular the Settlement of newly ordained ministers from out of province. Traditionally those minister's children would go to English schools. Bill 101 closed that down. It was incredibly hard on the United Church and its clergy.

My father, a minister, was educated in Quebec in the 1950's and therefore I had Bill 101 rights. I was very nearly born in Quebec due to that.

Jacques further writes:

Frances: I feel your dishearteningment ( I had to forge a word..) but so often hearing an Anglo trying his french is either
a) horribly painful to contemplate and you wish to end the pain of an innocent well-meaning person toward which you bear no ill will
or
b) you want to end the sight of somebody manifestly condescending to the natives(anyone from Macleans excepting Paul Wells and CFCF apart from John Grant).
In the end you mostly try to avoid the situation. Call it the avoidance sequel of canadian linguistic PTSD.
Collateral damages sometimes ensues.
Ray Conlogue had some nice passsages on that in "Impossible Nation".

I have heard some agonizingly painful, broken and downright ungrammatical English from people learning the language, some fresh off the plane. You accept the fact that they are learning and be patient with them. How else are they to learn if not through practice?

Determinant, you dodged quite a big bullet right? You might have been forced to actually learn to speak French to live in Quebec. No actually you could still attend English school, go to university in English, get English-language healthcare and apparently still earn more than an unilingual francophone without speaking a word of French. Not too bad eh?

Do you really want to do a comparison of English language rights in Quebec and French language rights in the rest of Canada? Seems to me that despite our draconian ethnic extermination techniques in Quebec we still fall way short of the rest of Canada if we look at the results. Do a little experiment: just try ordering a sandwich in French in Ottawa and then try ordering the same sandwich in English in Quebec City (let alone Montreal). Then tell me which one is the bilingual city.

Patrick
How many went to english immersion?
Apart from having twice as many english tv and radio stations, three times the screen space ( at leat in MTL), 3/4 of the books in my university library ( about 95 % at the graduate level) and 99% of my professionnal correspondance in english I still immersion?

As I said, there are collateral damages.I accept the fact that they are learning. I also understand that the labored english of the fresh migrant will improve and lead to something. I also understand the trying-to-be-bilingual anglo is torturing itself for nothing. Except outside Montreal, he will never use it and even then. In my family's store in Quebec City we welcomed them. But God did it slowed the service...


Wish we could go back discussing three-stages logarithmic regressions on the relationship between education level and kraft dinner consumption...

As an addendum to my first post.
"A German going to Geneva must go to french school, a French in Zurich must go in german. No one thinks it of a violation of some fundamental right of immigrants deciding the law and culture of the land does not fit them."
In fact it also applies to Swiss citizens. The Swiss federal gov't is 4lingual. Ticino is uni-italian, Grisons (Grevauden) is 3-lingual(it-ger-romansch), 3 are bi (german-french), are

Fat finger on the last post
3 are uni-freanch and 14 uni-german. There are no public schools in the canton non-official languages even for citizens moving inside the Confederation.

http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/europe/suisseunilingue.htm

In Finland, finnish and swedish are official at the state level. The minority region of Aland is uni-swedish even for finnnophones.

http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/etatsnsouverains/aland.htm

Same in Belgium.

I am not saying we should follow their models even if it seems to work well at least in Finland. ( One of my colleague is a Aland swede and is very satisfied and a Finland patriot to boot. His family fought for Finland during WW2.)

Language status is about status. Swedes dominated Finland but they are now not numerous enough to cause problems and live in an isolated area. Flemish and Wallons are numerically equal and the Wallons were the former masters, position they are losing. English in Canada are the conquerors, despite claims that in 1763 there was only a cession ( feel so nice to be reminded you are chattels...)
Canada is the only multilingual juridiction in the world where internal migrants can choose a non-majority public school. It didn't prevent the assimilation of ROC francos ( provincial regulations made sure french schools were inaccessible, forbidden or starved of funds and economic discrimination ensured you made the wise choice anyway). But it did great for Quebec anglos running the de facto apartheid system ( Speak white anyone?. BTW, Quebec civil service ran in english until 1910 and the first franco Minister of Finance wasn't appointed until 1966,money being serious enough you didn't leave it to the natives...

Ok back to three-stages regressions

Chip on your shoulder Jacques?

You have a problem with the choices Louis XV made?

Guillaume:

I was born in New Brunswick in fact and spent my formative years on the North Shore. Nope, didn't dodge anything.

Somehow we are leaving the realm of economics and entering the realm of emotion. I may have contributed to that, mea culpa.

Gotta say I've been following this discussion with a bit of dismay. After almost 20 years as a member of an exotic linguistic minority, I've heard variations on many of these themes, and I can sympathise with virtually all of them. I'd really rather not have WCI be yet another battleground in this campaign.

Let me second what Stephen's said.

This is wandering way off topic.

Agreed, I don't come here for this kind of discussion. Apologies if I have gotten a little carried away. Better close the comment thread.

If Yiddish was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for me.

Oy!

Stephen:
anything for any reason about language in any canadian discussion setting will bring you here.
So what about a nice post on regression estimate of kraft dinner demand?

Anyone wishing to exchange stale arguments can go through my FB account...

I'm actually really interested in the KD demand. When do we get to see the results?

In "If I Had a Million Dollars", the Barenaked Ladies came to the conclusion that Kraft Dinner is a normal good: increased income led to higher expenditures on Kraft Dinner. A pretty surprising result, I thought.

I'm trying to imagine how good the French would be, spoken by the graduates of high schools in many parts of Ontario, for instance. Maresee bowcoo. Would it be like their mastery of mathematics perhaps? Or reading and writing?

And just how would their unilingual parents assess that knowledge of French for census purposes?

Give me strength.

Bill: "And just how would their unilingual parents assess that knowledge of French for census purposes?" Clearly very optimistically!

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