MONTREAL – A language controversy has again hit Montreal; this time not over the fact that Quebec’s language police have told a restaurant to change a word on their menu, but because they declined to do so.
A Roxton Falls resident named Patrick Andries visited a Thaizone franchise on the eastern part of Sherbrooke Street and complained to the Office québécois de la langue français that the franchise used the term ‘takeout’ instead of the French equivalent term. He became angered by the fact that the agency didn’t appear to give due regard to his complaint.
“They simply said, ‘yes, it was an infraction… but it was minor’ so they wouldn’t follow up on it,” he said in a telephone interview. “You could think of this as minor… but I think they are frightened of the Pastagate precedent and controversy.”
That controversy occurred when OQLF language inspectors gave a citation to the owner of an Italian eatery because he used the Italian term ‘pasta’ instead of the French equivalent. The incident generated headlines across the country and the agency was drubbed in the court of public opinion as taking its mandate too far.
Now a Gatineau-based organization, Imperatif Français, has issued an online missive taking up Andries’ cause, criticizing the OQLF as shirking its duties as defenders of the French language. Some could understand Andries’ frustration.
“An appropriate concern: language is linked so much to identity and how we express ourselves on a day-to-day basis,” said Rachel Baker, who studies French at the Université de Montréal.
Other Montrealers – who have largely existed in a bilingual environment – were not as doctrinaire when they talked to Global News Sunday afternoon.
“I think it’s taking it a little too far and you’re undermining the personality of any kind of business, restaurant or otherwise,” said Monica Tello, a Montrealer.
“Whether it says takeout restaurant whatever it is, we live in a society that’s a mix of both,” said Jeff St-Hilaire, another Montrealer. “So they just have to live with it.”