MONTREAL — The debate over whether stores with English names in Quebec should have signs in French isn’t a new one, but it is one that’s been heating up lately.
It pushed Adam Polka, 30, to turn the never-ending argument over language and signs into a personal art project.
“I’m not trying to make a grand political statement,” he told Global News.
“I thought it would be funny to take the argument and absurd approach and literally translate the brands, rather than a more innuendo-ed ‘francisation.'”
The Montreal anglophone, who now lives in Orléans, a French suburb of Ottawa, pointed out that the debate is unique to Quebec.
“Sometimes it’s only in French, and sometimes it’s only in English, and everybody gets along. I’ll leave it at that.”
Polka said he’s Photoshopped about 25 store fronts already — a process that can take anywhere from a few minutes to almost an hour.
“Don’t make me think too hard about it — it will make me realize how much time I’ve spent on them,” he laughed.
As someone who works in marketing, communications and branding, Polka said he’s sure any company that opens up shop in Quebec would know how to cater to the local market.
Polka said the funniest thing he’s learned through the project is just how nondescript store names are, no matter what language they’re in.
“Word-for-word, whether English or French, Best Buy, Scores and Old Navy do very little do explain what they sell in their stores,” he explained.
WATCH: Language debate in Montreal
So, which are his favourite Photoshopped signs?
“Someone pointed out that Jouets Sont Nous should be Jouets Sommes Nous to make it grammatically correct. I’d argue that’s the same logic, as Toys R Us should be changed to Toys R We.”
Despite the debate, Polka said he’s proud to be able to communicate in two languages, “even if not perfectly,” and insisted it’s up to both sides to put the argument to rest for good.
“Breaking down linguistic divides and finding a common ground on which to laugh and live – that’s a good focus, no?”