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  1. #31
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    What language do you use to speak to anyone else outside of France? It seems like you want to deny it.
    Nun... Zum Beispiel, wenn ich in Deutschland bin, versuche ich Deutsch zu sprechen.

    Ist es nicht offenkundig?

    -----

    And furthermore, I don't know if you have travelled far enough, but there's plenty of countries on Earth where nobody would understand a single word of English. Take Russia or China, for instance. I mean, the real China, not Hong Kong or Singapore.

    This summer for instance, I was stuck in Russia and later in Ukraine. What language do you think I had to learn? How do you think I tried to adapt and survive (yes, it was a matter of survival)?

    Frankly, in which world do you think you're living? Is it the same than mine?


    Okay, I'll ask you something. If the situations were reversed, and French was the dominant language in most of the world... and the effort was towards trying to preserve English in Quebec, would you care? Would most of the French-speakers care? I doubt that they would. Perhaps English speakers are arrogant, but would not ANY speakers of a language in that position be arrogant? Are we any worse than you would be?
    No. I never pretended that current English-speakers were worse or more arrogant than the way French-speakers were during, let's say, the 19th century. But a wrong done doesn't justify any more wrongs. It's not because other nations practised slavery and bigotry that it's a good idea to do the same when you're in position to.



    Well, many of the Chinese, Arabian peoples, and Japanese have learned English for such reasons, have they not? They don't care for English culture at all, they learn the language so they can trade with us and communicate with us.
    This concerns only a tiny minority of people, even if this minority is very active and widely distributed geographically. A language that is not learned through cultural recognition is often quickly forgotten once you're out of school and do not practice it.

    Hispanic workers come here and learn it to find a job.
    And so do African workers in France: they learn French. And so do Turkish workers in Germany: they learn German. What is it supposed to mean? In a foreign country, you learn the dominant language. In Rome, do as the Romans do.
    And in Quebec, you learn French, exactly the same way you learn English when you live... let's say... in British Columbia. Is it really such a frightening, horrifying perspective?

    Perhaps it is different in Europe, though. I know not.
    It seems so.

    What I'm saying is that there are a non-negligible number of people who would learn languages for such reasons, even if you would not. Do you deny that?
    I would be the last to deny it.

    Okay, I think I'm beginning to see your point, though... what you are concerned about, is the loss of our ability to interpret the vast body of French literature in a non-translated form, because you feel that something would be lost in that translation. You feel that there is something valuable and unique to French culture that is irreplaceable. From your perspective, French is unique and beautiful.
    And so is every language: unique and beautiful. And it's not only about translation, it's rather about the way we think, we shape ideas, and how we consider our neighbours. Do we respect them, or do we want to convert them to our own image?

    Yes, French language is wonderful and the "vast body of French culture" (to quote your own words) is incredibly rich, far more than what most traditional English-speakers would often believe. But so are German culture, Russian culture or Chinese culture. The core elements of philosophy, poetry and litterature I perceive here are vastly superior to what is usually avalaible in English and every academician specialized into these questions would confirm it to you. The English supremacy is only fairly recent (and it's an interesting phenomena), hence its poverty and comparative lack of references when you go anywhere beyond the XXth century.

    To master a language gives you access to its culture, to elements more meaningful once you're able to put them into context. This is why, for instance, you can't easily translate a lot of philosophical concepts: ever tried to figure what the Dasein, the Shensui or the Poïesis would be in English?
    It goes far beyond simple translation: with each exemple I use here, it's about the inner mechanics of the language (how you build words and why), and about the cultural and even sometimes, physical context. Whoever has not set foot in the Huangshan mountains might not be able to understand the concept of Shensui and void as a landscape element...
    It goes far beyond the language as a simple written explanation.
    It's about places, paintings, buildings, interactions, discussions, territories: what we define as a cultural identity. And this fundamental perception cannot be really understood practically, but rather, ontologically.

    From mine, it is just another Romance language like Spanish, only far less popular. However, you speak French, and I do not know one word of it. I have to concede that this places you in a better position to judge that than myself.
    Sometimes, discovering a language is a question of fate and chance. And I will not judge which language and which culture Fate has intended for us. But people who are able to withstand cultural immersion are always more interesting and more diverse people.

    All right. I'll try to listen, and stop judging. What do you believe that speakers of other languages have to gain from learning French in particular? What would they gain from it that they wouldn't gain from learning Spanish? What is unique about French? What is so special about it, that people in this particular area, and no other, should be compelled to speak it and be educated in it if they don't wish to be? Why is French important? What do you believe the implications would be if Quebec began mostly transitioning to speaking English rather than French?
    You should not ask me why French seems so important for the majority of people who live in Quebec (even if this is pretty obvious), you should rather ask them and try to understand them if you ever go there.
    I'd say that it seems meaningful for them, that it seems to define who they are. Without it, they would lack something that goes far beyond utilitarian principles. And believe me, you should not mess with cultural identity: most conflicts and major misundertandings of History have begun this way. Rather, be humble and try to respect them if you can.

    Besides, English speaking states are doing exactly the same than what they are doing, if you think carefully to the context. So who are we to judge them, especially in such categoric ways?
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  2. #32
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arclight View Post
    It's typical of the French to claim everyone else is ignorant and arrogant, when they don't get what they want.
    Forgive me, but this is a totally uneducated claim.

    You seem so quick to judge people about their genetics and other ethnic essentialist features (Have you ever delved into Leibniz before?)... What is the next step?

    Am I really sssooooo "French"?? Am I the quintessential Frenchman (if such a man could ever exist)? What is it supposed to mean?

    Don't you think the word "Frenchman" can refer to a lot of very different people, with lots of different opinions and attitudes?

    -----

    There's more than 130 million people speaking French as a mother tongue around the world. So do you think they look and think all the same?
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    Forgive me, but this is a totally uneducated claim.

    You seem so quick to judge people about their genetics and other ethnic essentialist features (Have you ever delved into Leibniz before?)... What is the next step?

    Am I really sssooooo "French"?? Am I the quintessential Frenchman (if such a man could ever exist)? What is it supposed to mean?

    Don't you think the word "Frenchman" can refer to a lot of very different people, with lots of different opinions and attitudes?

    -----

    There's more than 130 million people speaking French as a mother tongue around the world. So do you think they look and think all the same?
    *Yawn*

  4. #34
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    -I think Quebec goes (way) too far with the language police, although there are probably some benefits to a few of the rules

    -I was in immersion for grades 5-10, as in 100% of my day taught in french, and it was mostly a complete waste of time with a side bonus of impeding my ability to learn things like science and history (not all schools have funding to have french immersion in the earlier grades).

    -I'm pro-learning languages at early ages, I suppose, although I'd much prefer to learn a language with a higher "global value" like mandarin. french is better than nothing I guess.

    -some francophones can be pricks about it. some anglophones can be pricks about it. Mostly people just like to be pricks.

    -overall.....meh. I think it doesn't matter all that much to anyone outside of Quebec, or nearby francophone communities (or the gov't). All the bickering gets old, though.
    -end of thread-

  5. #35
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arclight View Post
    *Yawn*
    As-tu seulement conscience que tu viens de te faire piétiner, rhétoriquement parlant?

    J'avoue cependant que la tâche était aisée -trop même-, car en effet, entre un universitaire de carrière et un homme qui apparemment maîtrise mal même sa propre langue natale, il y a un monde, une abime que je serais bien en peine de parvenir à te faire franchir.
    Nous ne nous battions pas à armes égales. Mais j'avoue que la mise à mort fut d'autant plus courte et distrayante.

    La question n'était pas de convertir à mes pensées (ô quelle arrogance ç'aurait été), mais bien de m'amuser... peut-être un peu à tes dépends, c'est mon pêché mignon après tout.
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  6. #36
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    Nun... Zum Beispiel, wenn ich in Deutschland bin, versuche ich Deutsch zu sprechen.

    Ist es nicht offenkundig?
    I can understand enough of the above sentence to realize that you're saying that you speak German when you're in Germany, and you think that's obvious. I'm not sure how I managed to make sense of it, but I somehow know that's what you said. I've noticed that there's often a trick I can use with Germanic (and sometimes Romance) languages to make sense of about half of the words... it involves imagining various distortions and mispronunciations of the words I heard/read until one of them resembles an English word. If it takes less than two "mutations," I can often figure out the meaning. Narrowing the context also helps. It doesn't work with more complex sentences, though.

    -----
    And furthermore, I don't know if you have travelled far enough, but there's plenty of countries on Earth where nobody would understand a single word of English. Take Russia or China, for instance. I mean, the real China, not Hong Kong or Singapore.
    Actually, AFAIK, English is the most common second language in the world. It's the one usually used when two people from another country want to speak, unless one of them knows the others language.
    This summer for instance, I was stuck in Russia and later in Ukraine. What language do you think I had to learn? How do you think I tried to adapt?

    Frankly, in which world do you think you're living? Is it the same as mine?
    Well, it depends on whether you were stuck in an area that caters to tourists or not. The tourist areas usually DO have stuff in English, I believe. I've been to other places, but I have to admit that I never leave the tourist areas because I believe that's where tourists belong, and the rest of the country is pretty much off-limits anyway.

    Of course, if it was in most places in those countries, I would probably have no choice but to reduce myself to using various hand gestures and miming desperately hoping someone could figure out what I was trying to express, relying on an interpreter, or trying to learn some of the language.

    No. I never pretended that current English speakers were worse or more arrogant than the way French-speaker were during, let's say, the 19th century. But a wrong done doesn't justify any more wrongs.
    Okay, now I'm getting somewhere. You believe that it's morally wrong for a minority of language speakers within a country not to be protected from pressure to assimilate to the culture and language of the majority. That's an interesting perspective. I guess if I can understand why you feel that way... everything else will make sense.


    This concerns only a tiny minority of people, even if this minority is very active and widely distributed geographically. A language that is not learned through cultural recognition is often quickly forgotten once you're out of school and do not practice it.
    Well, if they constantly practice it by using it in business... they could still remember it. Although I guess they wouldn't be as fluent as someone who was genuinely interested in the culture. They would just know the bare minimum need to express what they need to express.
    And so do African workers in France: they learn French. And so do Turkish workers in Germany: they learn German. What is it supposed to mean? In a foreign country, you learn the dominant language. In Rome, do as the Romans do.
    And in Quebec, you learn French, exactly the same way you learn English when you live... let's say... in British Columbia. Is it really such a frightening, horrifying perpespective?
    No, not really. I just meant that there seem to be more people choosing English as a second language than any other language, because it's more useful to them. I think that people should learn the dominant language of a country if they go there for any length of time. In fact, I think the dispute about Quebec is that some people see them as being like immigrants who have refused to learn Canada's dominant language and demanded special accommodation for no good reason, and others see them as a legitimate minority trying to avoid being subjugated by the majority. Neither perspective seems complete, though... I think the situation is probably far more complex than either side makes it out to be. They've both painted pictures of reality, each of which emphasize some truths and ignore others.
    And so is every language: unique and beautiful. And it's not only about translation, it's rather about the way we think, we shape ideas, and how we consider our neighbours. Do we respect them, or do we want to convert them to our own image?

    Yes, French language is wonderful and the "vast body of French culture" (to quote your own words) is incredibly rich, far more than what most English-speaker would often believe. But so are German culture, Russian culture or Chinese culture. The core elements of philosophy, poetry and litterature I perceive here are vastly superior to what is avalaible in English and every academic specialized into these questions would confirm it to you. The English supremacy is only fairly recent (and it's an interesting phenomena), hence its poverty and comparative lack of references when you go anywhere beyond the XXth century.

    To master a language gives you access to its culture, to elements more meaningful once you're able to put them into context. This is why, for instance, you can't easily translate a lot of philosophical concepts: ever tried to figure what the Dasein, the Shensui or the Poïesis would be in English?
    It goes far beyond simple translation: with each exemple I use here, it's about the inner mechanics of the language (how you build words and why), and about the cultural and even sometimes, physical context. Whoever has not set foot in the Huangshan mountains might not be able to understand the concept of Shensui and void as a landscape element...
    It goes far beyond the language as a simple written explaination.
    It's about places, paintings, buildings, interactions, discussions, territories: what we define as a cultural identity. And this fundamental perception cannot be really understood practically, but rather, ontologically.
    Wow. I wonder how English has affected my thinking? I mean, other than just in that it has caused me to view history largely from the English and American perspectives by default. I'm a little more curious than most... I often try to read about the UK, Canada, or Australia's perspective on events. I've found that we often influence each other quite strongly, and still have very similar values, despite not being part of the British Empire anymore. At times it almost seems like we might as well be, though, the way we seem to flock together on many issues. I mean, there are differences... but the similarities seem much bigger.

    You've made me wonder what kind of imprint languages tend to make on the psyche. And specifically, what particular kind of imprint English leaves, or what kind other language leave.

    Cultural identity? Hmm... well, I suppose I didn't think about it that way. Although, I have to say that some cultural identities may present a serious threat, and in some instances destroying them might be necessary for self-preservation. But I don't think Quebec's cultural identity is harmful to Canada or the United States, at worst it's a little eccentric, so there's nothing wrong with it.

    Sometimes, discovering a language is a question of fate and chance. And I will not judge which language and which culture Fate has intended for us. But people who are able to withstand cultural immersion are always more interesting and more diverse people.
    I suppose they would be. Although people here in the United States rarely have a need or an opportunity for cultural immersion. In Europe, I imagine it's often a matter of practicality and proximity that spurs interest in other cultures, while here... one could easily spend their whole life never hearing a language other than English (except maybe Spanish, and not even that often). We have a large area dominated by one language.
    You should not ask me why French seems so important for the majority of people who live in Quebec (even if this is pretty obvious), you should rather ask them and try to understand them if you ever go there.
    I'd say that it seems meaningful for them, that it seems to define who they are. Without it, they would lack something that goes far beyond utilitarian principles. And believe me, you should not mess with cultural identity: most conflicts and major misundertandings of History have begun this way. Rather, be humble and try to respect them if you can.
    Okay, my assumption was that most of these people wanted to learn English, but the government was forcing them to learn and use French. If it's important to them to use French, however, then they should be allowed to keep it. I was just thinking that French shouldn't be forced on them if they no longer want to maintain that cultural identity. If they do want it, though... then they should have it.
    Besides, English speaking states are doing exactly the same than what they are doing, if you think carefully to the context. So who are-we to judge them, especially in such a categoric way?
    Well, there you go.

    That was an interesting debate. Thanks for taking the time to explain all of that to me. Ideas such as the ones you describe... are not obvious to people like me. I have to struggle to conceive of them. It's not that the concept doesn't exist in my mind, it's that it's not something I would naturally tend to think of, because it seems like such a foreign and unusual perspective. And when I do think of such things, I often struggle to express them or talk about them, and thus usually end up forgetting about them. A practical perspective seems much less complicated to express than an ontological one, though it often leaves things out.

  7. #37
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    Okay, my assumption was that most of these people wanted to learn English, but the government was forcing them to learn and use French. If it's important to them to use French, however, then they should be allowed to keep it. I was just thinking that French shouldn't be forced on them if they no longer want to maintain that cultural identity. If they do want it, though... then they should have it.
    Well, believe me, the vast majority of Quebecers are more than happy to use French. Or else, they wouldn't have repeatedly voted these bills by a wide, very wide margin.

    After all, it's still a democracy up north!

    -----

    Don't take for granted what a would-be libertarian lunatic MP would say about it! He represents nothing, or almost nothing.
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  8. #38
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    I'm so very jealous of my immersion friends. I think it's unhelpful to do high school in French immersion if you're planning on attending an English-speaking uni, b/c of all the math and science terms hurt my K-12 immersion friends' first years who otherwise would've kept up with the premed crowd, but my friends who just did K-6 or K-8 had the best of both worlds. That's what I would've liked. If I move back to Canada and have kids I'm putting them in immersion until junior high.
    -
    I am very much in favour of stepping up the French language & cultural support from the government outside of QC, but I think they should loosen up some of the laws inside of QC. It's sort of excluding a lot of people who aren't already "in" with the French culture who might otherwise want to learn. My sister did the government sponsored Explore program, and I think more people would try to learn informally if you didn't pretty much have to be fluent before you moved into the province. I considered spending my gap year in Quebec because I wanted to learn, but chose Africa instead. I was intimidated by the language barrier and wanted a year without a lot of stress and isolation.

    I've also considered doing the Explore program now on my grad school summer break since my visa doesn't let me work in America off campus, but I know it's full of young people and I would prefer either a variety of ages or people with a bit more life experience. I spend enough time with 18yos teaching freshmen. They're great and all, but , breaks from adolescent bravado and watching them negotiate their first experiences of adult freedom are important!
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    Well, believe me, the vast majority of Quebecers are more than happy to use French. Or else, they wouldn't have repeatedly voted these bills by a wide, very wide margin.

    After all, it's still a democracy up north!

    -----

    Don't take for granted what a would-be libertarian lunatic MP would say about it! He represents nothing, or almost nothing.
    No Sir... these laws were ratified without public vote..

    Sir, I am a Canadian.. You are not.. I live here, You don't.. Please do not think you know more of what is going on over here.
    I know for a fact you have never been to Quebec.

  10. #40
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arclight View Post
    No Sir... these laws were ratified without public vote..
    Bills are ratified by an assembly whose members were elected... am I correct?

    Do you think you should have a referendum for every law your government propose, just like in some Swiss cantons?

    -----

    And furthermore, despite the various changes in power in more that 30 years of Québec's political history, no majority rule expressed the need to cancel this bill.
    Only a few lunatics did, like the man you pretend to support. Are you aware that libertarianism is a form of ideological extremism? Besides, Bernier is a notorious crook, and it's no wonder Harper accepted him first, and then had to make him resign later.

    Sir, I am a Canadian.. You are not.. I live here, You don't.. Please do not think you know more of what is going on over here.
    Once again, that's plain demagogy. You are just as biased as anybody else would be, and I would even dare to say than you're also an incurable extremist yourself who quite obviously seems to suffer from a strong identity issue, directed especially against French Canadians.
    Believe me, in France we follow Québec's politics very closely: they are our cousins, remember?

    I know for a fact you have never been to Quebec.
    And you would be plain wrong, Sir! I've been plenty of times in Québec and in Canada, and that includes Montréal.
    Believe it or not, most of my local friends hail from Westmount, an English-Speaking district (and my university had a student exchange program with McGill, not with Laval). But all of them were happy with their status within Quebec, because it makes them feel "special", apart from every other boring place in North America where English is the overwhelmingly dominant language.

    Those were the exact words of my friend and mentor Melvin Charney, if you have ever heard of him?
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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