Quebec language police order Irish pub to get rid of English

Dennis Baron debaron at UIUC.EDU
Wed Feb 20 05:33:33 UTC 2008

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

Quebec language police order Irish pub to get rid of English

Last week Québec’s language police ordered a popular Montréal  
watering hole to get rid of its English signs, and the outraged pub  
owner took his case to the media. Now the dispute has been settled,  
and both sides can sit down to a friendly glass of Guinness (or a  
pichet de rouge, if they prefer).

The pub’s owner has agreed to translate everything on his menus, and  
he’ll greet customers in French if they look like francophones. In  
turn, the pub can keep its English-language cultural paraphernalia.  
The authorities maintain that they had never asked for a name change  
to McKibbin’s Pub Irlandais, and they insist that cultural signs are  
allowed in any language, so long as the proprietors get approval from  
the linguistic authorities before displaying them.

L’Office québecois de la langue française had given McKibbin’s Irish  
Pub thirty days to replace its English signs with ones in French, or  
face fines of up to $1,500 a day for each infraction. Québec’s tongue  
troopers claimed they were responding to an anonymous complaint about  
too much English at the bar. The OQLF gets about 3,500 such  
complaints each year. In 2007 it fined 53 businesses for  
disrespecting French (one store, Best Buy, was fined ten times for a  
total of $5,000), while in 2006, when English apparently ran rampant  
in the city, over 100 fines were assessed.

... If McKibbin’s was a truly Irish pub, the owners would have leapt  
at the chance to throw out anything English and replace their signs  
and menus with Gaelic. Instead, they embraced English as a sign of  
their Irishness.

read the rest on The Web of Language

Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English                                   	
University of Illinois	

608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

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