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Old 04-17-2013, 01:30 AM
 
17 posts, read 103,705 times
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If you are from the U.S. or the rest of Canada you probably speak English and could honestly have little exposure to french in day to day life. If you are a native french speaker in Canada you have probably been taught english in grade school since most of the people in Canada speak it. If you haven't you have been constantly exposed to American movies and music, not to mention the Internet.

I find it convenient that you can go into a business in quebec not be able to find a person that speaks english. It would be somewhat believable if only one or two older people are working there but when its three or more people, especially younger people in a place within a hour of either the U.S. border or a English speaking part of Canada i think its BS.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:43 AM
 
Location: Toronto
1,570 posts, read 2,811,986 times
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A lot of people have the same suspicion. Unfortunately, I can't answer cause I really don't know. But I would like to know.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:53 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
10,024 posts, read 10,564,883 times
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There are a LOT of people in Quebec that speak ONLY French. I don't know why the OP finds that so hard to believe. What makes you think they care one single little iota about American culture? LOL They have their own culture and they think it's sufficient and superior to others.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
21,937 posts, read 27,338,144 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucknow View Post
There are a LOT of people in Quebec that speak ONLY French. I don't know why the OP finds that so hard to believe. What makes you think they care one single little iota about American culture? LOL They have their own culture and they think it's sufficient and superior to others.
And even if they do partake in American culture (which they do to an appreciable degree), they have the option of doing so in French for everything except perhaps music.

At the moment 500 metres or so from where I sit the new 3D version of Jurassic Park is playing in French at my local cinema. As is the case for any other Hollywood blockbuster. Want to read 50 Shades of Gray in French? Pas de problème. Hunger Games? No worries. Harry Potter? Go for it - every single book. And they come out pretty quickly too.

Your kids wanna watch Hannah Montana, Shake it Up or The Wizards of Waverly Place? You're welcome to come to my living room any night of the week to view them... in French.

As for music, well there isn't much difference between someone today listening to Lady Gaga and not understanding the lyrics, as there is someone listening to La Traviata or Carmen, now is there?

Although this lack of English knowledge does sometimes lead to comical situations. Some years ago I attended a kids' talent show with seven-year-olds and a bunch of them did a dance routine to the song "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy". I don't think anyone involved in preparing the show truly knew what the song meant.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:26 AM
 
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2,540 posts, read 3,270,013 times
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News flash, for the original poster.

Quebec is a French language culture, just as China is a unilingual culture, and as many other parts of the world are. It is their "working language ".

Quebec has it's own separate and thriving music and theatre sectors, and it's own TV and radio and newspapers, all in French. There are dozens of magazines, and popular books, produced in Quebec, for their own population.

The assumption that "they really do know how to speak English " is totally absurd. A person can live their whole life in Quebec, and never need to learn to speak English. And it has nothing to do with age, or income levels. Rather, it has to do with personal interest and or employment requirements.

Lets turn the original question around, shall we ? Many Americans live close to the border with Quebec, in Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, and yes Maine, so how many of them can speak French ? Not very many, I suggest. Just living close to the US border has no connection to being able to speak English. Or wanting to do so.

Quebec is a part of Canada, and Canada is a officially bi-lingual country. That goes back to the very beginning of our history, when France was the first European country to explore what is now Canada. The French controlled this place for about 250 years , BEFORE they were defeated by the British. The treaty that was signed at that time, allowed the French speaking people, in what is now Quebec , to retain their religion, and their language, in order to have peace and harmony.

Its how things are.

Jim B

Toronto.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:27 AM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
8,581 posts, read 11,070,781 times
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I moved to Texas five years ago, I'm still looking for someone that speaks English...


More to Acajack's point, just because they may have some understanding of English doesn't mean that they'll speak it. I took French for 11 years, and I know enough to know my basics, but I also know enough to know I'm totally bastardizing the language, and am really reluctant to use it because of that. Could I muddle through if you dropped me in France and I had no choice? Sure. Would I engage in a conversation in French with a customer or somewhere I needed to have full comprehension? Anglais s'il vous plait.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:41 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
21,937 posts, read 27,338,144 times
Reputation: 8602
Quote:
Originally Posted by canadian citizen View Post
News flash, for the original poster.

Quebec is a French language culture, just as China is a unilingual culture, and as many other parts of the world are. It is their "working language ".

Quebec has it's own separate and thriving music and theatre sectors, and it's own TV and radio and newspapers, all in French. There are dozens of magazines, and popular books, produced in Quebec, for their own population.

The assumption that "they really do know how to speak English " is totally absurd. A person can live their whole life in Quebec, and never need to learn to speak English. And it has nothing to do with age, or income levels. Rather, it has to do with personal interest and or employment requirements.

Lets turn the original question around, shall we ? Many Americans live close to the border with Quebec, in Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, and yes Maine, so how many of them can speak French ? Not very many, I suggest. Just living close to the US border has no connection to being able to speak English. Or wanting to do so.

Quebec is a part of Canada, and Canada is a officially bi-lingual country. That goes back to the very beginning of our history, when France was the first European country to explore what is now Canada. The French controlled this place for about 250 years , BEFORE they were defeated by the British. The treaty that was signed at that time, allowed the French speaking people, in what is now Quebec , to retain their religion, and their language, in order to have peace and harmony.

Its how things are.

Jim B

Toronto.
I would add that I live in Quebec but in the city of Gatineau right on the border with Ontario. Right across the river with Canada's capital city of Ottawa, which is demographically quite predominantly English-speaking. Basically there are a close to a million native English speakers in my immediate vicinity. Ottawa is an important employment location for many people in Gatineau, and much of that work takes place in English. And yet in my city in Quebec right next door I would estimate that between 25 and 30% of adults have very little ability to speak English. Because as this poster said, they don't really have much use for it in their everyday lives. Some may know a little bit but are shy and insecure about speaking it. But many others don't really know much. They learned some in school of course but like many English Canadians with their high school French, they didn't retain much and it lapsed over the years for lack of use. You can be a high school principal or a director of a city department in Gatineau without knowing English. I personally know people who fit this description.

Sure, living on the border like we do you overhear English regularly but in restaurants, shops, arenas, etc., pretty much everyone will speak French to you here and all services from A to Z are available in French.

I am pretty good in English as you can see and my work does involve the occasional use of English but when I am off work unless I cross over to Ottawa I can often go fairly long periods (think weeks) without speaking any English.

So to answer the OP - there is no "conspiracy".
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:43 AM
 
Location: DFW
6,796 posts, read 11,767,775 times
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I've been to Quebec a few times as a tourist.. I've always *tried* to speak the language even though I barely can speak it even having taken French for 4 years in HS. As a touirst, I think it's ok if you can't really speak the langugage but at least make an attempt. The locals probably struggle just as much to speak English anyways. The main issue, IMO, isn't your inability to speak French but your expectation that they can speak English.

Here in California, I live not too far from the Mexican border and a fair # of Spanish speakers are in the area. I know 0 Spanish.. the functional language of my locality is English anyways. I think the people in Quebec living near the border feel the same way too.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:48 AM
 
Location: CFL
903 posts, read 2,241,026 times
Reputation: 979
I think most times in Quebec if someone indicates they do not speak English they are sincere.

However I think there are some exceptions. One is Mikeycc's example where their English is so poor they'd rather not embarass themselves.

If you make an effort when visiting Quebec to learn a few french phrases and show that you are trying to adapt to the place you are visiting it will help. Some english speakers seem to approach it from a perspective that they demand to be served in English in non-english coutries. This will annoy some locals and they might get stubborn and not play along. If you learn "Parlez-vous Anglias" (do you speak english) and start conversations with that you could get those with weak english to give it a shot because they see you trying to work with their language..
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:04 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
21,937 posts, read 27,338,144 times
Reputation: 8602
Quote:
Originally Posted by marc3565 View Post
I think most times in Quebec if someone indicates they do not speak English they are sincere.

However I think there are some exceptions. One is Mikeycc's example where their English is so poor they'd rather not embarass themselves.

If you make an effort when visiting Quebec to learn a few french phrases and show that you are trying to adapt to the place you are visiting it will help. Some english speakers seem to approach it from a perspective that they demand to be served in English in non-english coutries. This will annoy some locals and they might get stubborn and not play along. If you learn "Parlez-vous Anglias" (do you speak english) and start conversations with that you could get those with weak english to give it a shot because they see you trying to work with their language..
This post made me think that I should make a confession: on rare occasions where people are being exceptionally obnoxious I have pretended not to speak their language. I haven't just done this in Quebec but also abroad, since I can blab a bit in several languages.

So if someone speaking language X (usually not the language of the locale) is being a jerk and wants to engage me in conversation or get me involved in something, I will sometimes politely say "Sorry, I don't speak X" in the language I am pretty sure they don't know, and walk away.

Sneaky, aren't I?
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