Thursday, March 31, 2005

No italics for Quebecoise?

by RudyG

I moved this discussion here for those who wish to continue either: 1. the Quebec separation question (below) or 2. the Spanish-in-italics discussion (please add comments to "Nothing italic about DT", in the column at the right).

RudyG last wrote:

"The Quebecoise are a minority within Canada who've fought battles against what they see as oppression by the dominant Canadian culture."

Martini Republic editor's response:

Rudy, with all due respect--have you ever been to Montreal, or any part of Quebec? Or even to Canada? This statement strikes me as a vast underestimation of French Canada. First off, both French and English titles appear on all national government correspondence. But beyond that, the battles in Quebec have typically been for complete separation, and also over the exclusion of English in Quebec; any sense of Anglophone cultural or linguistic “oppression” is extremely vague in Quebec--indeed, it is the French speakers who have tried to exclude English, to the economic detriment of the city. Quebec is gigantic--it feels like a country, and when you are cinq kilometres outside of Montreal, English language speakers disappear completely.

March 31, 2005, 13:33

Response from RudyG:

"Have (I) ever been to Montreal, even to Canada?" you ask. I doubt that looking across from Niagara Falls counts, so I'll say, Je crois que non. Nor have I set foot on African soil, so my info about the "reputed" apartheid there may have been simply self-delusion. And since I never visited Antarctica, penguins possibly don't, in fact, reside there.

Since I'm something less than a world traveler, I'm forced to depend on your personal observations that "the battles in Quebec have typically been for complete separation, and also over the exclusion of English in Quebec".

Good enough. "Complete separation" sounds like a battle, one against the gov't and dominant culture of Canada, I assume.

I've read--though never seen them all in person--of many others who wanted the same. Do the Northern Irish ring a bell? Chicanos, blacks, Hawaiians and many indigenous peoples from the continental U.S. (which I have seen some of) also come to mind. They had/have good reason (however "extremely vague" they may seem), but were not "given" the power to do so.

Those who say such peoples may have no right to decide their own fate, since they might makes "mistakes" like the Quebecoise, might seem to be aligning themselves with the dominating gov't's and cultures--not a wise, defensible affiliation in front of, say, the World Court. (I think that's in The Hague, which might be in Europe.) But then, maybe they know better because they've seen more of the world, I assume.

Rudy Ch. Garcia

1 comment:

msedano said...

i work in montreal from time to time. it's a french speaking country. punto final. but just as much, it's a bilingual place. when you go into a store or restaurant, if my french isn't to their liking they'll switch easily into ingles. commercial documents and work stuff will be bilingual by law. and they get all these religious holidays off with pay. and they have concubine laws for benefits like family leave. it's a different culture.

the issue with the italics is cultura. not an instance of cultural hegemony. the prescriptivist who insists that "foreign phrases" be capitalized is completely correct. the editor who italicizes Spanish words is just plain wrong; Spanish words are no less foreign than English words, or vice versa.