How a comedian, a rap group and a separatist critic are slaying a sacred cow: Quebec’s language rules

Graeme Hamilton on one of the latest twists in the Quebec culture debates:

In Mauvaise Langue, Cassivi mocks University of Ottawa language professor Jean Delisle for an article Delisle wrote complaining about the rampant English in Xavier Dolan’s film Mommy. In an interview, Delisle said he expects the acceptance of English preached by Cassivi will go the same way as the joual slang Quebec authors incorporated into their work in the 1970s.

“Nobody reads those novels any more,” he said. “So in a few years, the Dead Obies will really be dead. It’s a fad.”

The danger of English terms becoming fashionable among French-speakers is that over time the language becomes eroded, he said. “If it continues, if these anglicisms persist, the French words will be forgotten. That’s a step toward the hybridization of the language.”

Ruel has no time for doomsayers nostalgic for the days when Quebec chansonniers were a driving force behind the nationalist project. He sees the Quebec cultural establishment’s conservatism, which shuts Dead Obies out of grants and awards galas because they use too much English, as the biggest threat.

“Some kids are starting to get bored with Quebec, and that’s how you kill a culture,” he said. “If everything is safe and everything is whitewashed, then people will be bored.”

Instead of an attack on Quebec culture, why not view Dead Obies as saviours? “You can see the glass half full or half empty,” Ruel said.

“Is it English culture that is invading ours? Or is it French Quebecers who are weaving French into rap culture, and suddenly you have French rap that gets played in bars alongside Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West because it has that same feel and authenticity?”

Source: How a comedian, a rap group and a separatist critic are slaying a sacred cow: Quebec’s language rules | National Post

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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