Air Canada Fined For Not Using French LanguageBack to Forum
31 Aug 2019
Agree. It’s ridiculous. It reminds me of the days where every SAS longhaul flight had to carry a swede, danish and norwegian crew member regardless of point of departure as well as announcements in all three languages (plus english of course).
Saying that in the Air Canada case it seems the law was broken. I don’t agree with the law as according to Wiki only 20% of Canadians speak french as their first language so giving it ‘equal status’ to english language seems a bit daft. But hey.31 Aug 2019
I immediately knew it would be a French Canadian that raised the complaint. No doubt they’re also members of the Quebecois group that were outraged at certain restaurants in Montreal refusing to translate the following English words into French
What sums up this couples clownish behaviour is their need to have a French instruction to be able to fasten their seatbelts31 Aug 2019
I agree that this is too much, but you cannot compare linguistic sensitivity that is found in Canada to anywhere else in the world. French Canadians or Quebecois are deathly worried that their language and culture are one day going to be swallowed by their English speaking compatriots. Even though I disagree with examples like this one, I also feel some sympathy with a group of people who are arguably the oldest European community in North America trying to retain what is definitely a proud and unique culture.
Also, Air Canada’s rules and regulations clearly state that English and French are on equal par in all of its operations, so the airline breached its own rules.
1 user thanked author for this post.1 Sep 2019
Totally understand this- has no-one noticed that UK language is being swallowed by American English. At least Francophone Canadians are making the effort to protect their language. Here in the UK people have no pride and just accept their fate as the 51st State.1 Sep 2019
There’s a fine line between protecting language and culture , which I’m all in favour of, and pushing to the limit those views which are zealot like in their one dimensional thinking.
I’m quite certain this Ontario ( bilingual province) couple have no issue with Quebec (Canadian province) being pro anti English and allowed to be singly linguistic ( French)
The double standards around Quebec’s demands have been a continual irritant to most open-minded Canadians for years.
I remember trying to pull money out of a BOM ATM in my hometown of Richmond BC which only showed instructions in Mandarin and French !!
Fortunately my enforced French at school came to the rescue.
Did it occur to me to grab pen and paper and claim that Bank of Montreal had violated my English speaking human rights —-Ehhh no2 Sep 2019
I agree that this is too much, but you cannot compare linguistic sensitivity that is found in Canada to anywhere else in the world.
Sorry, but Belgium is a far worse case. Three official languages although French and Flemish (essentially Dutch) are the most widely spoken. All signage in the Federal Capital of Brussels must be in both languages, but then in Flanders only in Flemish/Dutch and in Wallonia only in French. In Southern Belgium (Wallonia) it is often impossible to find anyone who speaks Dutch. In Flanders, the far more business minded part of Belgium, many do speak French, but do so begrudgingly if the other person is a FrancoPhone Belge. My Better half is French, and when we are home in Antwerp, the Antwerpenaars dont mind speaking French to my better half due to him not being Belgian. Belgium is a tiny country that has often had very heated political debates all along linquistic lines, and spends a fortune maintaining the tri-lingual status (German being spoken in the east of the country). We were once in a supermarket, speaking English in the line to pay, when an older couple behind us spoke about how pathetic it was that foreigners dont learn their language. I turned around and in perfect, proper Dutch explained that not only did I speak Dutch and that I am Dutch, but that it wasnt their language, and they could learn a thing or two about speaking it properly as Flemish sounds like a troddler speaking Dutch. Their faces were priceless and they moved to another line. I adore living in Antwerp, but the language issue definitely rears its head on a daily basis.
As for the couple that sued Air Canada, another useless lawsuit that should have been thrown out of court. Simple attention seekers as already mentioned.2 Sep 2019
I worked in BRU for a few months, and the city seems to be divided linguistically with no clear boundaries. The problem was that when we went to see clients, Ginette Dubois could turn out to be a Vlaams speaker, and Annetjie van Herkulen could turn out to be a French speaker, it was a nightmare. If you addressed a Walloon (French speaker) in Dutch (Afrikaans in my case) they would be offended, if you addressed a Flemish speaker in in French they would usually either answer you in French or English.
As Flemish ‘sounds like a troddler speaking Dutch’, my poor Afrikaans probably sounds like a retarded toddler with a speech impediment speaking Dutch, nevertheless it works for me although I usually get a look of sympathy and : “Ja, now let’s speak in English.”
I always felt I had an advantage in Belgium since I speak Afrikaans (badly) but therefore understand Dutch and Vlaams, and I also speak French, but usually stuck to English which led to the same accusations as mentioned by AFlyingDutchman! I would seriously question why anyone would want to learn Flemish!2 Sep 2019
I always felt I had an advantage in Belgium since I speak Afrikaans (badly) but therefore understand Dutch and Vlaams, and I also speak French, but usually stuck to English which led to the same accusations as mentioned by AFlyingDutchman! I would seriously question why anyone would want to learn Flemish!
I fully agree with you, pointless to learn Flemish as it is actually Dutch with very few changes. Afrikaans is far more different to Dutch than Flemish is to Dutch. I felt like you when my parents lived in Jo-burg for 3 years, I could understand Afrikaans and most could understand me when I would reply in Dutch, but we swiftly changed to English so as to avoid making any mistakes. Brussels is a real conundrum as officially, it is to be bilingual, but French is of course much more widely spoken, and is viewed as the more elegant language (which I would agree, also like you I am fluent in French), however, the real wealth of Belgium, where the money is and is generated is in Flanders, so one would expect Flemish/Dutch being the more popular or used language, but it isn’t. The funniest thing for me in Belgium is that Flemish TV shows actually have Dutch undertitling and vice-versa, while the languages are practically identical. That said, my partner will says Canadian French is some of the most difficult French for him to understand, so perhaps accents is the main challenge.2 Sep 2019
I did get caught out in Belgium once …..
Our Scotland supporters bus got lost and I was asked to go out and get directions back to Calais.
Whether it was my hybrid Scottish Western Canadian accent or my failing French the gentleman at the petrol station just glared at me with a face that would have turned me to stone. I apologised and asked if spoke English. This was the last straw , he barked at me in a language I didn’t recognise and then turned his back on me. Fortunately a customer at another pump came across , apologised for his compatriots rudeness, laughed at the incompetence of our driver and pointed us in the general direction of France.
As a frequent visitor to other countries try and use the local lingo.
Sadly its becoming evident that language is becoming a tool to spread division rather than bringing people together
A classic and topical example of this is the DB ferries in HK.
When I first went to HK the announcement was in English and then Cantonese, logical since the majority of passengers primary language was English. Now it’s Mandarin (few people speak it), Cantonese (HK’s primary language) and then a cursory announcement in English.
This being a business traveller forum, it would be interesting to find out the common phrases we tend to use to help build relationships in foreign lands. Apart from the tartan army classic of “5 beers please”
Reminds me of the Scottish supporters who took note of the street where they parked up for a game in Dortmund.
Left the camper van , got drunk and when sobered up found that they had parked up in Einbahn Strasse !!2 Sep 2019
Again, my point is not being understood even though I thought it’s quite simple. To simplify it, Belgian law DOES NOT require signage or other official operations to be bilingual, meaning in Flanders you are NOT required by law to have Flemish/French signage or directions etc and vice versa in Wallonia. However, in Canada, it’s the law to have all official operations to be both in English and French so Air Canada broke its own rules. I’m not defending this ridiculous law but it’s the law. I agree that a fisherman in a remote fishing village in Newfoundland will not benefit from a French language road sign but then again it’s the law and English-speaking Canada agreed to that law!
1 user thanked author for this post.3 Sep 2019
However, in Canada, it’s the law to have all official operations to be both in English and French so Air Canada broke its own rules.
Actually I do fully understand your point, and agree with the bilingual status of Canada,, after all Quebec is part of Canada.
I’d argue that there’s letter of the law which can be very hard to stick too and then there’s the spirit of the law.
I’d suggest that AC definitely abide by the spirit of the law.
In this instance, I personally think AC should seek an injunction against this couple barring them from using their services.
They clearly don’t like AC , evidence of the fact that they’re habitual litigators against the company , including a claim that their linguistic rights were violated because they received a can of Sprite instead of a 7 Up when they ordered I presume “sept un haut” —- That says a lot about their motives.
If any of my Scottish friends asked for vodka & lemonade on that flight they’d be delighted to get a Sprite rather than the literal juice made from lemons.
I’m also sure that on an AC flight from CDG to Montreal I’d expect more emphasis on French than English , just as if I was flying from Vancouver to Honk Kong then English, Cantonese and French would be de rigour and sensible
For me it’s about common sense and respect. If this couple ever headed to British Columbia they’d never be out the courts or possibly hospital if they’re that easily stressed by the minutiae of legislative language.
1 user thanked author for this post.3 Sep 2019