Monday, December 30, 2013

Don't Speak Haitian Creole in Quebec if You Know What's Good for You

Quebec’s French language police are up to their old xenophobic tricks again. This time, the victims are two people who were speaking Haitian Creole—basically 18th century French, with some West African lingual spices—amongst themselves while on the job at a Montreal hospital, when someone complained. Johanne Gagnon, the hospital’s director of communications, told the Montreal Gazette, “Something happened in a ward where some employees—probably two Haitians—were talking to each other in front of a Québécois employee, a francophone, who didn’t understand what the two people were saying because those two employees were speaking in Creole.”

Even though it is not against the Charter of the French Language (Bill 101) to speak a language besides French on the job (so long as you're not speaking to the public and it doesn't purposefully exclude coworkers), the OQLF still set a December 20 deadline for the Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies to do something, lest they risk a thorough investigation from the OQLF and as much as a $20,000 fine. That prompted the hospital to hold a staff meeting on December 10 to remind their workers to speak French.

“This is intolerance,” said Patrick Gilles, director general of the Jeune Chambre de Commerce Haïtienne to the Gazette. “It makes no sense. The OQLF is exaggerating. There is no reason to reprimand anyone over this.”

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