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04-14-2011, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Montreal, PQ
Country: Canada
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Originally Posted by Et le But View Post
This was my situation too. I lived in Montreal for 5 years and to this day speak very little French unfortunately. I understand more than I speak but when I try use any sort of complicated French I often accidentally switch to Spanish (which I'm more comfortable with) and it just leads to confusion.

In my experience if you understand that you are in a Francophone city but don't assume any more than that you will rarely, if ever run into trouble. Knowing a few words in French and not assuming anything about the person you are speaking to's language skill goes a long way. Almost everyone in Montreal is bilingual to some degree, it's one of the best things about the city, but it also leads to insecurity and misunderstanding which is easily resolved by being polite and honest.

Yes, there are occasionally issues, every city has its a-holes but downtown Montreal is as close to a model of bilingualism as you can find, and any political tension is rarely directed at tourists.

And damn Bunka Gurndeep, you sound really unlucky. That waitress thing happened on Crescent? That's especially odd considering a lot of employees around there are anglophones. And that taxi thing is illegal.
The only times I've ever had a problem was when I was the employee and customers would get pissed off. Thing is though I always spoke French to them and they were just dicks about it anyways, because I had an accent or screwed up a word or two. I find it's a lot easier going out somewhere finding a nice francophone server at a restaurant than it is to be working at that restaurant and have a nice francophone customer. Just basing it on personal experiences. Some people get really mad even when you make an honest effort, but then they wonder why some people don't speak french or make an effort. To a lot of people an effort isn't enough, they get mad when you aren't fluent. I've experienced this first hand, not much you can do about people who are *******s. I always knew the actual terminology for the job but now and then I'd make a mistake or forget a word, and some people would simply be intolerant of this, meanwhile the same guy likely can't speak a word of English.

I just find it's a two-way street when you live in Quebec, people should make an effort on both sides of the equation not just assume because it's Quebec that English isn't worth learning. To me that's even more ignorant than an Anglo Quebecer not learning French because France, Quebec etc are two very small places in the world and the worlds English speaking population is about 100x that of French. Now I'm by no means perfectly bilingual but I do have conversational French skills, I'm still by no means perfect, but I just find 95% of the time when it's someone being ignorant and treating you like **** because you don't speak their language 100% properly, they never even put one ounce of effort to learn your language themselves, and they feel entitled to this kind of behavior just because they're Quebecois. Usually it isn't a big deal, but you sometimes make an effort to speak French with someone and they don't even care about the effort, they just immediately jump to the conclusion that because you don't know one word, or don't say a sentence perfectly, that you've never made any effort to learn the language what-so-ever.

Especially in the case of people who live in like BC like the person above, I find the expectation that they should know more than just a few words to be a little bit high of an expectation. While Canada's second language is French, it's only spoken as a first language here and in a few other Countries. It's hardly a significant language like English is. If you live in Quebec though I understand. I just don't see why a lot of people act all entitled to treat people who aren't fluent like **** when they themselves aren't even fluent in English or simply refuse to speak it just to be a ****** bag. I know nobody on HF is like this as we're all forced to speak English on these forums, so obviously anyone whose willing to do that alone must have some sort of tolerance for this sort of thing, I just hated it being an employee where people essentially come to your place of work for the sole purpose of putting you down because you're an Anglo with limited French skills. (Alcan employees, I'm looking at you, get off your high horses you aren't better than anyone)

As a customer I don't remember ever having these kinds of problems though, typically people try to treat customers with respect even if they don't like them due to some personal bias, and anyone who doesn't in an entry level job like that, I don't see how they could keep their job doing that sort of thing.

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