MONTREAL – In a restaurant that promotes French food, French wine and French culture, Imad Nabwani never thought he’d hear from the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).
“We just received a letter from the language police saying that there are two stickers at the door which are not legal,” said Nabwani, the restaurant’s owner for the past seven years. “One of them is ‘Trip Advisor Recommended’ and the other is Interac which says ‘Say Yes to Interac’.”
Nabwani admits that the law is the law. He completely removed one sticker, and made adjustments to the other.
This isn’t an isolated case. The Parisian-style brasserie is just the latest in a slew of Montreal establishments being asked by the OQLF to take down their English stickers, or at least provide a French equivalent.
“There is no complaint, there will be nothing after that,” OQLF spokesperson Jean-Pierre Leblanc told Global News on Thursday. “It’s just to get the information to the people and say maybe you have a customer that doesn’t understand English and then it will be good for him to have the French version, he will understand.”
But in tough economic times, Nabwani fears stories like this one bring bad publicity to the city, and cause more harm than good.
“We are in Montreal and it’s a French city and we love it and we are very proud, but we would like to promote our city in a positive way,” he said.
The restaurant has always been careful to comply with language laws. The menus on the walls are only in French, so a letter from Quebec’s official language watchdog was the last thing Nabwani expected.
“To tell you the truth, the first impression I got I thought it was a joke,” he said. “Then I realized no, it’s a serious thing and I have to go through it and try to comply by the law.”
Nabwani has already started the procedure with Interac and Trip Advisor to obtain new, French stickers.
“We’re not gonna fight something like this, but let’s put our money, energy, love into something else!”
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