CANADA-LANGUAGE

Posted on in Politica e lingue 11 vedi

CANADA-LANGUAGE
QUEBEC GROUP THREATENS BOYCOTT TO REVIVE ENGLISH

BY PATRICK WHITE
QUEBEC CITY, SEPT 9 (REUTERS) – AN ENGLISH-LANGUAGE WATCHDOG GROUP IN FRENCH-SPEAKING QUEBEC LAUNCHED A HIGH-PROFILE CAMPAIGN AND THREATENED A BOYCOTT ON WEDNESDAY TO REVIVE THE LANGUAGE OF SHAKESPEARE IN THE PROVINCE.THE CAMPAIGN WILL TARGET STORES AND BANKS THAT REFUSE TO DISPLAY ENGLISH COMMERCIAL SIGNS, THE GROUP SAID AT A MONTREAL NEWS CONFERENCE. "WE HOPE TO REACH OUT TO THE FRANCOPHONES SO THEY UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT OUR CAMPAIGN TO REVIVE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN QUEBEC," SAID WILLIAM JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF ALLIANCE QUEBEC, AN ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LOBBY GROUP."IN THE PAST, WE WERE AFRAID TO LAUNCH A LANGUAGE WAR. WE LACKED CONVICTION," HE SAID.FRENCH HAS BEEN THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC SINCE 1974. IN 1977, THE PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE PASSED TOUGH LAWS PROTECTING THE FRENCH LANGUAGE AND ENCOURAGING ITS USE, AND IN 1988 CANADA’S SUPREME COURT RULED FRENCH-ONLY COMMERCIAL SIGNS WERE ILLEGAL. QUEBEC HAS SINCE CHANGED ITS LEGISLATION TO PERMIT ENGLISH SIGNS, AS LONG AS FRENCH ONES ARE PREDOMINANT.ABOUT 83 PERCENT OF THE QUEBEC POPULATION IS FRENCH-SPEAKING AND ABOUT 10 PERCENT IS ENGLISH-SPEAKING. "WE HAVE SEEN OUR RIGHTS FLOUTED AND RESTRAINED. WE HAVE SEEN OUR PEOPLE, THE QUEBEC ENGLISH-SPEAKERS, DEPART AND BE LEFT EXILED BY THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS — OUR PARENTS, OUR NEIGHBOURS AND OUR FRIENDS," JOHNSON SAID.SOME 300,000 ENGLISH-SPEAKING QUEBECERS AND MORE THAN 100 CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS HAVE LEFT MONTREAL SINCE 1976, WHEN THE SEPARATIST PARTI QUEBECOIS WAS FIRST ELECTED AS THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT."THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS PART OF THE QUEBEC IDENTITY. THOSE WHO WANT TO DENY THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, DENY THEMSELVES," HE SAID. "WE CHERISH THE FRENCH LANGUAGE. IT IS PART OF OUR HERITAGE AND OUR IDENTITY. WE SUPPORT THE BLOOMING OF FRENCH. JOHNSON IS A CONTROVERSIAL FORMER NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST AND A STAUNCH PROMOTER OF CANADIAN UNITY.HE SAID THE PUBLIC CAMPAIGN WAS LAUNCHED TO ENCOURAGE BANKS, GAS STATIONS AND SHOPS TO DISPLAY ENGLISH COMMERCIAL SIGNS AND DISTRIBUTE ENGLISH LEAFLETS."WE INVITE THEM TO HELP RESTORE RESPECT FOR ENGLISH. IT SHOULD BE A PATRIOTIC DUTY," HE SAID, ADDING THOSE BUSINESSES THAT REFUSE TO RESPECT ENGLISH WILL BE BOYCOTTED AND VISITED BY DEMONSTRATORS."WE WILL ASK ANGLOPHONES AND CANADIANS IN GENERAL NOT TO SPEND A PENNY ON THE INSTITUTIONS THAT DO NOT RESPECT ENGLISH. WE WILL ASK THEM TO WITHDRAW ALL THEIR MONEY FROM BANKS THAT DO NOT SUPPORT THE EXISTENCE OF ENGLISH IN QUEBEC," JOHNSON SAID. "QUEBEC IS OUR HOME. WHATEVER HAPPENS, WE ARE HERE TO STAY."QUEBEC HAS LONG STRUGGLED TO PROTECT ITS LANGUAGE AND CULTURE FROM BEING SWAMPED BY ENGLISH SPEAKERS IN THE REST OF CANADA AND NORTH AMERICA. TWO STUDIES RELEASED IN 1996 SAID THE HEALTH OF THE FRENCH LANGUAGE MAY STILL BE FRAGILE IN QUEBEC, HOME TO 7.4 MILLION OF CANADA’S 30 MILLION INHABITANTS.

09/09/98




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