In Quebec it is actually an offence to have a sign in English (or any other language) and not in French. Personally I think this is ridiculous and we have seen why. The Economist reports:
On February 19th, Massimo Lecas, co-owner of an Italian restaurant, Buonanotte, in Montreal, wrote that he had received a letter from the office warning him that there were too many Italian words (such as “pasta”) on his menu. This was a violation of Quebec’s language charter, he was told, and if they were not changed to the French equivalents (pâtes in the case of pasta) he would face a fine.
Think how much money they spend on enforcing this stupid law. I wonder if they’d warn a place that has a quote in Latin!
Other restaurant owners who had received similar letters—a fish-and-chip-shop owner who was instructed to call his main offering poisson frits et frites, a brasserie owner who was asked to cover the “redial” button on his telephone and the “on/off” button on his microwave—came forward, an indication this was not an isolated incident.
You can’t make this up!
Journalists happily uncovered more extreme examples, such as the owner of a sex shop who tussled with inspectors over the English-only instructions on a sex aid. She offered to translate the safety instructions into French and place a sticker over the English warning, but this did not satisfy the inspectors. The case went to all the way to the Superior Court of Justice. (I wonder if the lawyers were able to keep a straight face.) The owner ended up with a C$500 fine.
She got fined $500 because the sex aid only had English instructions! I love this extract from the more detailed story:
The product in question, she wrote, is a ring used on the male sexual organ to enhance a female partner’s pleasure. During Mr. Picard’s first visit, he noted that the packaging and safety label were in English only. Ever vigilant, he made three subsequent visits and noted “partial corrections” but not enough to make the product conform to the law.
The poor bureaucrat – had to visit the sex store three times and inspect all the gear for correct language instructions!
In testimony at trial, the store manager said no similar product was available with French text. Under cross-examination, the Crown inquired about a Trojan product sold in drug stores with bilingual packaging, but it was established that the Trojan product was different because it vibrated. Store records introduced as evidence established that 16 of the Super Stretch Sleeves were sold over 12 months.
What a great trial this must have been.Tags: French, Quebec