Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 09:43:42 CST


Subject: Quebec language & law

On Tue, 11 Mar 1997 08:13:28 -0500 Christopher R. Coolidge said:

For an example of failure of language programs, we need to look at my

former home province Quebec and their continued insistence in shoving the

French language down immigrants' throats(including Anglo-Americans; only

English speaking CANADIAN citizens are allowed access to English public

schools). Then they bemoan that immigrants are taking away all the good

jobsa from their children. I mean, who's more marketable; a Vietnamese

immigrant who speaks both English and French(of course he would have

learned English because he's using Quebec as a stepping stone to get into

the States as soon as he can pass the much stricter U.S. immigration

requirements), or a Quebecois who speaks English very badly? And even

though the Office de Language Francais is a black hole that sucks money

and does nothing but bicker about how big foreign languages are allowed to

be on public signs, the Quebec government still throws money at it. You

wonder why I'm impatient about wasting money on programs that don't work.

maybe it's because I've lived in Quebec all those years...

The definition of failure shifts as perpsectives shift. From Christopher

Coolidge's perspective and other immigrants who want access to English

language schooling for their kids, the policy is a failure. From the

perspective of the French speaker in Quebec who saw his/her language

threatened by the encroaching hegemony of Anglo-dominant infrastructure,

this same policy figures into a larger framework of linguistic legislation

that has indisputedly strengthened the position of French in Quebec, such

that the example of Quebec is cited by Fishman and many others as one of

the few cases where language decline has been successfully reversed.

Whatever one might think of linguistic legislation, these are the

realities, on both sides, that one must take account of if one is

interested at looking at the big picture. Personally, I don't understand

why anyone would not want to look at it.

Mike Picone

University of Alabama