Quebec tells federally regulated firms to guarantee use of French among employees

Federal response has been weak to date. Will be interesting to see the results of expected court cases:

The Quebec government is giving companies in federally regulated sectors one month to begin complying with new requirements to guarantee the use of French in their workplaces.

The move comes as Ottawa’s plans to modernize the country’s Official Languages Act, which will include new rules for federally regulated companies, are still being debated in Parliament.

Federally regulated sectors include banking, telecommunications and transportation, which were not under the legal purview of the Quebec government until the recent adoption of a new language law known as Bill 96.

Source: Quebec tells federally regulated firms to guarantee use of French among employees

Lost in translation: Patients more likely to die, have serious outcomes when their physicians don’t speak their preferred language

Serious study and implications. During my experience as a cancer patient, I often reflected on how hard it must be for patients with weaker language skills, education and income:

Patients treated by physicians who speak their own language are healthier and less likely to die while in hospital, according to a new study led by Ottawa researchers.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, showed significant differences in outcomes among frail, older patients who were treated by a physician in their own language, compared to those who were not.

Francophones treated by a French-speaking physician had a 24 per cent lower chance of death than those who received care from a non-French-speaking doctor, according to the study. They also had shorter hospital stays and had a 36 per cent lower chance of adverse events, such as falls, while in hospital.

For patients whose first language was neither English nor French, known as allophones, the impact was stark. This group had a 54 per cent lower chance of death when treated by a physician in their own language and a 74 per cent lower chance of hospital-related harms, according to the research.

But fewer than two per cent of allophones and fewer than half of the Francophones in the study received physician care in their own language.

Co-author Dr. Peter Tanuseputro, a physician-scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, Institute du Savior Montfort, Bruyere Research Institute and The Ottawa Hospital, called the findings staggering.

“It’s clearly easier to convey important information about your health in your primary language. Regardless, the more than doubling in odds of serious harms, including death, for patients receiving care in a different language is eye-opening.”

Tanuseputro said the research underscores why it is important for hospitals to pay attention to the language patients speak as well as the languages physicians and other health workers speak.

The findings are likely to resonate in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, where the Franco-Ontarian community rallied to save Montfort hospital after the Ontario government announced plans to close it in 1997. The battle, won after five years of political activism and legal fights, galvanized the community. Today, Montfort is a Francophone university health institution that provides care in both languages and has a research institute.

Still, Tanuseputro noted that the majority of Franco-Ontarians studied did not get health services in French.

The study’s lead author, Emily Seale, a medical student at the University of Ottawa and Institut du Savoir Montfort, said more must be done to make sure patients are heard and understood by referring them to physicians who speak the same language or by using interpreter services.

“This is not only good patient-centred care, but our research shows that there are grave health consequences when it doesn’t happen.”

Dr. Sharon Johnston, scientific director and associate VP research at the Institut du Savoir Montfort said the study is important because: “(it) helps us quantify the risk of greater harm faced by patients who cannot receive medical care in their preferred language. Understanding and addressing this issue, particularly for our francophone community in Eastern Ottawa and Ontario, is a key part of the mission of Hôpital Montfort and l’Institut du Savoir Montfort.”

The researchers relied partly on data from home care services, which keeps track of patients’ first languages.

They studied more than 189,000 adult home care recipients who had been admitted to hospital between April 2010 and March 2018. They compared patients who received care from a physician in their primary language and those who received care in a different language.

Most of the home care recipients in the study spoke English. Thirteen per cent spoke French and 2.7 per cent spoke another language.

Just over half of the physicians in the study spoke only English and the remainder were multilingual. While 44 per cent of Francophones received care primarily from French-speaking physicians, only 1.6 per cent of allophones received most of their care from physicians who spoke their primary language or one they could understand.

Tanuseputro said, in his own experience, making attempts to find a physician who can provide care in a patient’s language, or translation services, is not always a priority in a busy hospital.

“I am guilty of this too. What our study shows is that there are risks and consequences if you don’t do that.”

Among other suggestions, Tanuseputro said teams of physicians should consider a patient’s language and find someone better able to communicate with the patient. And translation services should be used, even if it takes time.

He also said hospitals should assess patients to understand how well they understand English. If they can’t, hospitals should have interpretive services or multi-lingual family available.

While the study looked at home care patients who were in hospital between 2010 and 2018, Tanuseputro said the situation may well have worsened during periods of the pandemic when family members were generally kept out of the hospital and unable to help interpret.

The study can be found at: https://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.212155

Source: Lost in translation: Patients more likely to die, have serious outcomes when their physicians don’t speak their preferred language

Lisée: Le louisianisateur

The vast majority of temporary residents in Quebec are international students, likely the majority in English language institutions. Some will move outside Quebec following completion of their degrees, particularly those who are unilingual and attend anglophone institutions. All have mobility rights across the country so the impact on Quebec demographics will likely be more limited than Lisée argues.

And of course, language spoken at home is the wrong measure given that immigrants and allophones largely speak their language of origin at home, and French in the public space:

L’heure est grave. François Legault pointe un doigt accusateur vers un gouvernement qui, par son insondable incurie, met en cause la « survie de la nation ».

Les chiffres sont incontestables. En trois ans, le coupable a déroulé le tapis rouge à 90 000 unilingues anglophones, massivement regroupés à Montréal, et à 30 000 autres qui ne connaissent rien à la langue de Vigneault. Il est grand temps de nommer le responsable : le gouvernement de François Legault.

On aura beau chercher dans les mandats de Philippe Couillard, Jean Charest, Robert Bourassa, on ne trouvera nulle part, avant la CAQ, un gouvernement qui en a fait autant, avec l’immigration, pour affaiblir le français et angliciser Montréal. S’il y a un louisianisateur au Québec, c’est François Legault. Et encore : on n’a pas encore les chiffres de 2022 et, sans la pandémie, c’eût été pire encore.

On pourrait parler de pompier pyromane si François Legault tentait aujourd’hui d’éteindre ce feu de forêt linguistique. Il n’en est rien. Alors que le sinistre, majeur, se trouve dans l’afflux d’immigrants temporaires dont la présence est constante et croissante, Legault n’agite son boyau que vers le petit feu de broussaille de la réunification familiale. Une fois soustraits les mineurs et les retraités, on ne trouve, là, que 3000 adultes non francophones par an.

La question de l’immigration est compliquée. L’indulgence doit-elle nous conduire à excuser l’incompétence du premier ministre en la matière ? Pendant la campagne de 2018, incapable de répondre à des questions simples au sujet de l’immigration dont il avait fait son thème phare, il admit ne pas être « un génie en herbe ». Il a eu quatre ans pour se mettre à niveau. Il ne l’a pas fait.

D’autant qu’avant ses déclarations de dimanche dernier, il avait à sa disposition les documents les plus à jour qu’on puisse espérer : les rapports que l’économiste Pierre Fortin et le démographe Marc Termote ont produits pour son gouvernement et qui braquent les projecteurs sur le dérapage linguistique opéré par l’afflux de temporaires non francophones.

Ils ne mâchent pas leurs mots. L’accélération fulgurante, voulue par Ottawa et permise par Québec, provoque chez nous « la perte de contrôle de sa politique d’immigration permanente », dit Fortin, et « le risque d’un recul important de la francisation de sa population immigrante ». Termote renchérit : « Pour que l’immigration temporaire ne contribue pas à fragiliser la présence du français, aussi bien dans l’espace public que dans l’espace privé, il faudrait que le pourcentage de francophones parmi ces immigrants soit au moins égal au pourcentage de francophones dans la population d’accueil ». Un tel constat, conclut-il, « devrait suffire à justifier une intervention croissante du Québec dans la gestion de cette immigration ».

Mais Fortin décrit un ministère de l’Immigration « submergé par un tsunami d’immigrants temporaires » — 177 000 l’an dernier — sur lesquels « le ministère n’exerce qu’un contrôle timide ». Comme Termote, il note que le gouvernement québécois détient, en ce moment, le pouvoir de limiter leur nombre ou d’exiger qu’ils aient une connaissance préalable du français. Un pouvoir qui existe dans l’entente Québec-Canada, confirment au Devoir le négociateur québécois de l’entente, Louis Bernard, et l’ex-responsable de la planification au ministère de l’Immigration, Anne Michèle Meggs.

Pourquoi ne le fait-il pas ? Fortin tente une explication : « Le gouvernement, écrit-il, craint sans doute les accusations d’irréalisme et de cruauté » de la part des cégeps et universités anglophones et des employeurs qui utilisent ces programmes comme des bars ouverts. Bizarre, car la mère patrie de l’anglophonie, le Royaume-Uni, n’hésite pas, elle, à exiger une connaissance préalable de l’anglais à ses futurs immigrants, y compris temporaires. Cruelle Albion !

Non seulement cette gestion a été inexistante depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir de la CAQ, mais son premier document de planification, de 2019, se donnait l’objectif d’augmenter de 15 % le nombre de ces temporaires. Ce qu’Ottawa a fait, et bien au-delà, avec plaisir.

Cette réalité, autrement plus grave que la question de la réunification familiale, nous oblige à poser une question grave. Si quelqu’un, au pouvoir, souhaitait que se poursuive sans interruption l’arrivée de tous ces temporaires qui anglicisent Montréal, que ferait-il ? D’abord, il gouvernerait pendant quatre ans sans jamais réguler ce flot. Ensuite, il ferait une fixation sur un objectif secondaire, sans grand impact — la réunification des familles — pour lequel il ne peut agir seul. Surtout, il ferait mine de ne rien pouvoir faire sans obtenir des pouvoirs que, c’est certain, il n’obtiendra jamais dans le cadre canadien. Tout cela en feignant d’être très préoccupé par la survie linguistique de son peuple.

Je suppose que si François Legault lit ces lignes, il s’indignera que je lui fasse un tel procès d’intention. C’est que la distance qui sépare ses discours de ses actions en immigration impose la plus grande sévérité, à l’heure où il demande aux Québécois un aller simple vers un cul-de-sac.

Sur le fond, où va-t-on ? « Dans la région de Montréal, on observe, et on continuera à observer un écartèlement croissant entre un français de moins en moins utilisé à la maison et le français resté plus ou moins majoritaire dans l’espace public, écrit Termote. Peut-on concevoir une société durablement soumise à un tel comportement quasi schizophrénique ? Comment réagiront les immigrants, et les anglophones, lorsqu’ils constateront que le français est minoritaire, ce qui est sur le point d’advenir sur l’île de Montréal et qui le sera dans une ou deux générations dans l’ensemble de la région métropolitaine ? »

Comment ils réagiront ? En faisant de l’anglais la langue commune, tout simplement. Et en remerciant celui qui a rendu la chose possible : François Legault.

Source:

Immigrants in Quebec could struggle to have rights respected under new language law

Of note:

Groups helping immigrants, migrant workers and refugees in Montreal say their clientele will struggle to have their basic rights respected under Quebec’s revamped language law.

Bill 96, the province’s overhaul of the Charter of the French language, was adopted into law at the National Assembly Tuesday. The law’s wide scope limits the use of English in the courts and public services, and imposes stricter language requirements on small businesses, municipalities and CEGEP students.

One of the law’s clauses calls on newcomers to learn French within six months of arrival, after which they can no longer access most public services in another language.

Community workers say that could make it difficult for their clientele to access justice and even complete daily errands, pushing some further into isolation and vulnerable situations.

They believe Quebec is creating a two-tiered immigration system, where people fleeing strife who speak only rudimentary English could be discouraged from coming to the province despite growing labour needs. Meanwhile, the province is relying on an increasing number of temporary foreign workers in low-wage jobs to fill significant labour shortage gaps.

“We really feel discriminated against,” said Evelyn Calugay, who runs PINAY, a Filipino women’s rights group.

Filipinos coming to Quebec are often compelled to fill precarious jobs, such as domestic work, leaving them little time to learn French, Calugay explained. They already come from a country with eight major dialects, she noted.

Calugay, who is 76 and came to Quebec in 1975 when the province was desperate for nurses, said it took her a year of full-time French classes to get to a point where she could understand and be understood in French.

“We learned English in school because it was taking from the American system, so the language was imposed on us, and before that our ancestors were forced to speak Spanish,” said Calugay. The Philippines was a colony first of Spain, then the United States until it gained independence after the Second World War.

Calugay said she appreciates the importance of preserving the French language, and following the laws and customs of Quebec and Canada, but that the revamped language charter now feels coercive, rather than a way to promote French.

“We don’t even encourage temporary workers to come to Quebec for now,” she said.

Legault shifting focus to immigration

Premier François Legault told reporters Tuesday after the law passed that he wanted to turn his focus to making sure a larger number of immigrants accepted into the province already speak French, noting he would be making it a campaign issue in the upcoming election.

He said his government has increased the proportion of its selection of immigrants who speak French from 55 per cent to 84 per cent, but that the proportion of French-speaking immigrants accepted into the province by the federal government was only about 50 per cent.

While Quebec manages economic immigration to the province — a power other provinces and territories in Canada do not have — the federal government is responsible for the admission of refugees.

Calugay points out that if Quebec’s powers are extended to include refugees, the province could effectively limit admissions from certain countries based on their French proficiency, while bringing in more temporary foreign workers, who mostly hail from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

“Because that’s cheap — what does a capitalist want? Cheap labour, of course,” she said.

Mostafa Henaway of the Migrant Workers’ Centre agrees with Calugay that the government appears to be prioritizing temporary migrant work in order to appease its voter base.

“There’s this idea that they want a temporary and sort of disposable, flexible workforce,” Henaway said in a phone interview.

“So, the CAQ can say it reduced permanent migration. Then at the same time, they can say they increased the number of temporary migrants and protected the French language.”

He said the six-month clause means vulnerable workers and immigrants in all kinds of situations could have trouble understanding and making themselves understood when it comes to denouncing abuse.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far rejected Legault’s calls for Quebec to have complete control on immigration into the province but has pointed to Bill C-13 tabled by the federal Liberals, which in part aims to increase immigration from French-speaking countries.

In a statement to CBC News, Jean Boulet, the provincial minister responsible for immigration, labour and francization, said prioritizing French-speaking immigrants is important for Quebec, “given the French character of Quebec and the issues in sustaining the official language of Quebec.”

“Temporary workers are essentially the responsibility of the federal government and there is no threshold limiting the arrival of this category of immigration,” Boulet said.

In 2021, nearly 24,000 temporary foreign workers were employed in Quebec, the highest number yet in the province and up from about 17,000 the year before. Quebec announced last year it had signed a deal with Ottawa for companies in the province to hire up to 20 per cent more than that.

When children are the translators

For Rose Ndjel, the director of Afrique au Féminin in Montreal’s Parc-Extension neighbourhood, the challenge posed by the extended language restrictions will be on people who have already lived there for years and may not have easy access to French courses because of time and cost.

Ndjel helps run a local bank of interpreters who speak many of the more than 130 languages present in Park Ex, such as Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Lingala, Urdu and Tamil.

Ahead of the law’s adoption, she said a local school board employee contacted her asking for interpreters to translate teacher meetings to parents.

“The people who speak French in Parc-Extension are people who moved here from other neighbourhoods,” Ndjel said, referring to the growing gentrification in the area.

“Otherwise, it’s the children who go to the elementary and high schools in French who speak the language.”

She said children sometimes miss school to help translate services, such as at doctor’s offices, for their parents or grandparents.

“That will happen even more with this law,” Ndjel said in French. “Parents won’t be able to do anything without their kids. Unfortunately, that’s where we’re at. Children’s health is at stake.”

Source: Immigrants in Quebec could struggle to have rights respected under new language law

Indigenous leaders say Quebec’s language bill colonial, paternalistic

Of interest and a reminder that Indigenous rights can collide with Quebec linguistic and other policies:

Indigenous leaders in Quebec say the government’s French-language bill is destructive, paternalistic and could put the survival of First Nations languages at risk.

Bill 96 would push Indigenous students to pursue higher education outside the province, Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, told reporters Tuesday in Quebec City.

“It’s a staggering irony, that the first inhabitants of the land in Quebec are being forced to study outside their territory; that’s something we find unacceptable,” Picard said at the legislature.

Bill 96 makes several amendments to Quebec’s signature language law, known as Bill 101. If passed, it would reinforce rules about the use of French in workplaces, the civil service and the justice system. The bill would also require students at the province’s English-language junior colleges to take three additional classes in French.

John Martin, chief of the Mi’kmaq council of Gesgapegiag, on the Gaspé peninsula, said many Indigenous communities were historically forced to speak English and that requiring young people to master a third language — French — would make it more difficult for them to succeed.

“If our communities are going to be able to flourish, education is a key component, but remember also that education has been used as one of the key factors in the assimilation of our people and the destruction of our cultures and the destruction of our languages, and that is why this government needs to sit down and listen to us,” Martin said.

“It is a destructive bill. It is a continuation of the kind of colonialism, paternalist and extinguishment activities that governments successively have conducted since their establishment on these territories.”

Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, grand chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, located near Montreal, said the bill could also impact access to justice.

“We do not want to see this bill move forward without any kind of exemption or consideration of Indigenous people, our languages, our cultures that have been here since time immemorial,” she said. “The way that this government is conducting itself is very dismissive and it disregards us and our long history and our presence on these lands.”

Sky-Deer said the Indigenous leaders want a meeting with Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the legislation. She said if the minister doesn’t meet with Indigenous leaders, community members will have to resort to taking other actions.

The Indigenous leaders were invited to the Quebec legislature by the opposition Liberals and Québec solidaire. While the Liberals have said they plan to vote against the bill, Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé said her party plans to vote for it.

Source: Indigenous leaders say Quebec’s language bill colonial, paternalistic

McWhorter: Don’t sleep: Linguistically, Black Americans can walk and chew gum at the same time

Of interest:

In March, at the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication, one panel presentation was of particular interest: It concerned requirements in first-year college composition classes and discussed the idea that for students whose home dialect is Black English, or another nonstandard dialect, requiring them to write in standard English is a potentially unjust, if not flatly racist imposition, forcing some students to suppress their true selves in favor of a hegemonic artificiality. This school of thought holds that writing instructors should allow — encourage — such freshmen to write either purely in their home dialect or to engage in “code-meshing,” mixing the home dialect and the standard.

It’s an approach that accomplishes the feat of both underserving Black English speakers and diminishing Blackness.

During the panel’s Q. and A., an attendee presented this question: “What do we do when the resistance to code-meshing, for example, in our writing classrooms, comes from our BIPOC students? I ask because, of my attempts to encourage students to use their home dialects in writing, Black students in particular often resist those practices as setting them up for failure. Which only reflects how ingrained they are in a system that is inherently racist.”

The question and the panelists’ answers were quite revealing, including one from Asao Inoue, a rhetoric and composition professor at Arizona State University, who responded that when he hears that kind of objection from a student, he asks himself:

Is it that I have to say, or I have to create a classroom, and a learning experience, that demeans the linguistic history of that student in order for that student to go into the world and go into unfair racist, white supremacist systems and succeed? … Because if that student says, “You’re setting me up for failure,” what they’re saying is, “I want to succeed in that unfair system. I want to game that system.”

But, Inoue continued:

You’re always still going to be Black, or you’re always still going to be Latinx, or you’re always still going to be something else. … you can mouth the words that are white, but they’re coming from a body that’s something else, and you may be read that way. And so, for me, my goal as an educator is to change the system.

Because, he said:

What they’ve been exposed to is capitalist-inflected [expletive] about education being the way in which we, you, become a nice little cog in the system and you get skills. So you can go out in the world and make Microsoft more money.

While not all writing professors would go that far, in terms of appending a critique of capitalist reality to teaching freshman composition, just the notion that standard English is exterior to Black students’ real selves requires a closer look, because it tracks with worrisome currents in the way we are encouraged to think about race, especially lately.

Few familiar with today’s academic world will find Inoue’s opinions especially surprising. The idea in education circles that standard English functions as an unjust “gatekeeper,” holding back students of color, has been around for a long time. Related has been the idea that at the grade-school level, Black students whose home dialect is Black English should be taught as bilinguals of a sort. Adherents of this philosophy don’t say standard English should be withheld but suggest that standard English and Black English should be presented as different languages, as it were. Recall the “Ebonics” debate that gained national attention in the 1990s.

In 1993, English Leadership Quarterly, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, published a piece by two Indiana University of Pennsylvania English professors, Donald A. McAndrew and C. Mark Hurlbert, arguing that:

Writers should be encouraged to make intentional errors in standard form and usage. Attacking the demand for standard English is the only way to end its oppression of linguistic minorities and learning writers. We believe this frontal assault is necessary for two reasons: (1) it affords experienced writers, who can choose or not choose to write standard English, a chance to publicly demonstrate against its tyranny and (2) if enough writers do it regularly, our culture’s view of what is standard and acceptable may widen just enough to include a more diverse surface representation of language, creating a more equitable distribution not only of the power in language and literacy but also, ultimately, of the power in economics and politics that language and literacy allow.

Later, as The Washington Times reported in 1995, the N.C.T.E. discussed eliminating “English” from its name. That year, a delegate to its annual convention said, “If we are to offer diversity, there can be a conversation about language arts, but not about English.”

But in the same way that the idea of eliminating references to “English” strikes most as overboard, the idea that for Black people standard English is something wholly apart is simply inaccurate. For most Black Americans, both Black and standard English are part of who we are; our English is, in this sense, larger than many white people’s. In “The Souls of Black Folk,” W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, “I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not … I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension.” On a less exalted level, a great many Black people toggle endlessly between standard and Black English, day in and day out — we code-switch. I always liked how Gloria Naylor was able to get this across, as in this scene from her novel “Mama Day”:

“We ain’t staying long,” Ruby says, pulling up a chair. “But I thought it would be nice for us to meet Cocoa’s new husband.”“It’s a pleasure,” George says.“Doubly mine,” says Ruby. “And this here is my new husband, Junior Lee.”“Pleasssurre.” Junior Lee manages a nod. “Hear you a big railroad man.”“No, I’m an engineer.”

In that exchange, the characters aren’t dipping in and out of what they think of as a cold, alien dialect. They are sounding subtly different notes according to which dialect they render each thought or gesture in. Standard English forms are as much theirs as Black English ones.

Communicating in this way, Black Americans are doing what other people do worldwide, living between two varieties of a language. Swiss people’s formal Hoch Deutsch is almost a different language from the Swiss German they speak informally. The Arabic speaker typically controls both the Modern Standard Arabic derived from the language of the Qur’an and used in formal settings and a local dialect used for real life, like Egyptian or Moroccan.

People in these countries and beyond would find familiar Maya Angelou’s observation in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” couched as completely unremarkable:

In the classroom we all learned past participles, but in the streets and in our homes the Blacks learned to drop s’s from plurals and suffixes from past-tense verbs. We were alert to the gap separating the written word from the colloquial. We learned to slide out of one language and into another without being conscious of the effort. At school, in a given situation, we might respond with “That’s not unusual.” But in the street, meeting the same situation, we easily said, “It be’s like that sometimes.”

To give some credence to those freshman-comp panelists, we might say that Angelou could have turned away from the “That’s not unusual” and that Du Bois could have considered that in real life Shakespeare, Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius might have looked down on him as some kind of “Aethiope.”

But subordinated and even despised people can, over time, with full awareness of the unjustness of racism, embrace even a foreign language, as opposed to a dialect, that is initially forced upon them. They can come to process it as a part of who they are, as people existing at a particular time, amid a dynamic synergy between the then and the now, the us and the them, the imposition and the resilience.

Many Indians, for instance, cherish English as one facet of the expression of modern Indianness, despite its imposition under colonial rule. Not long ago, I took in Netflix’s Bollywood romantic comedy “Love Per Square Foot,” in which the characters speak “Hinglish,” a neat blend of English and Hindi, a common linguistic phenomenon among many people in India and throughout the Indian diaspora. In the movie, there is nary a suggestion that the English feels to the characters like a spritz of cold water on every second sentence from a mustachioed British imperialist. In the same way, Congolese people go back and forth between French, their African lingua francas such as Lingala (memorably featured in, for example, the documentary “When We Were Kings”) and local indigenous languages few have heard of beyond where they are used.

Too often, what we’re presented with as authentically Black is a kind of essentialization. The idea that people’s authenticity stops at their home dialect does not reflect how people operate linguistically or their experience. Foisted on Black Americans, this idea of the standard dialect as a quiet menace, whatever its progressive intentions, is limiting. Even if the idea is not to ban the standard from a curriculum, if standard English is presented with an eye roll as the province of The Man, this is based in a conception of Blackness needlessly smaller than the reality of it.

Linguistically, Black Americans can and do walk and chew gum at the same time, like countless people around the world — and like it.

Source: McWhorter: Don’t sleep: Linguistically, Black Americans can walk and chew gum at the same time

Refugees in Quebec will have to learn French within 6 months

Not realistic and discriminatory (but not surprising), unfortunately):

The Quebec government is moving ahead with a controversial part of its proposed language bill, which will require all government officials to communicate with new immigrants exclusively in French, six months after their arrival — with no exceptions for refugees and asylum seekers.

The article of Bill 96, which was introduced at the National Assembly last May, was recently approved by the legislative committee studying the bill, amid criticism from opposition Liberal and Québec Solidaire MNAs. The bill is expected to become law this spring but still faces detailed study in committee.

Some organizations, opposition members and even the union representing public servants tried to persuade the government to soften the rule, to no avail.

“For newly arriving immigrants, the basic principle of the law is clear: as of Day 1, it’s exclusively in French,” said Simon Jolin-Barrette, justice minister and minister responsible for the French language.

There are exemptions in the law, which allow communication in a language other than French, “where health, public safety or the principles of natural justice so require” such as getting health care.

As well, the bill allows for a six-month grace period for “particular situations that require the use of a language other than French with new immigrants” according to Élisabeth Gosselin, spokesperson for Jolin-Barrette.

The bill says after that six-month period has lapsed, communication must be in French.

“Currently, the government communicates with immigrants who have requested it, sometimes for years, or for their whole lifetime, in a language other than French, which does not foster integration,” Gosselin said.

Learning French in 6 months

Community organizations working with newly arrived immigrants have been calling on the government to extend the six-month grace period.

“We all agree that the government cannot respond to immigrants in every language. But we have to give them time to learn French,” said Élodie Combes, member of the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI), a working group that represents community organizations working with immigrants.

Combes believes that the bill may actually hinder the integration of immigrants, by making it more difficult for them to get government services.

“It’s as if we’re telling them to retreat into their lingustic minority, that the government is not there for them, because they aren’t francophone enough,” she said.

Garine Papazian-Zohrabian, an associate professor in educational psychology at the Université de Montréal who researches French-language training for immigrants, says the six-month hard cap will be most harmful for refugees and asylum seekers, who are arriving in a vulnerable state.

“Members of this population are already disoriented, arriving in Quebec. They can been burdened by a difficult past and face cultural challenges. They’re not ready to learn a new language, like French, right after their arrival,” said Papazian-Zohrabian.

“You might as well say that we don’t accept refugees or immigrants, rather than place so many obstacles in front of them,” she added.

Opposition slams ‘excessive’ measures in bill

The union representing 40,000 Quebec civil servants, the Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ), is also in favour of extending the six-month grace period.

In its submission to the committee examining the bill, the union suggested the delay could be extended to two years, to allow new immigrants more time to adapt.

Ruba Ghazal, Québec Solidaire MNA for the Mercier riding in Montreal, proposed a grace period of three years, saying that Jolin-Barrette is “totally disconnected from the reality of newly arrived immigrants.”

“The minister makes no distinction between a refugee and an economic class immigrant,” she said. “These people need more kindness and understanding.”

Jolin-Barrette dismissed the idea of extending the grace period, saying six months was a “reasonable” period.

Ghazal said while the bill takes a harsh stand with newly arrived immigrants, it contains a clause that allows the government to continue to communicate in languages other than French with people who immigrated to Quebec in the past.

Source: Refugees in Quebec will have to learn French within 6 months

Quebec: Les francophones discriminés [international students]

More commentary.

Checked Quebec numbers: CEGEP international student enrolment up more than 5 times (de 2 899 en 2009-2010 à 16 505 en 2019-2020) compared to university enrolment that only doubled during the same period (de 24 504 en 2009-2010 à 48 406 en 2019-2020). http://www.education.gouv.qc.ca/colleges/enseignants-et-personnel-de-college/references/enseignement-superieur/portrait-statistique-des-etudiants-internationaux-a-lenseignement-superieur/

But the relative shift from French to English CEGEPs is notable, irrespective of any discrimination issues:

Le Québec bataille pour sa place d’État francophone fier depuis des lustres au sein d’un Canada qui n’en a généralement que faire, soupirant d’ennui entre deux réformettes de façade. À divers niveaux, tous les gouvernements du Québec se sont préoccupés des combats à livrer pour résister aux assauts bien vigoureux de l’anglais, entre autres dans le champ de l’éducation. Le gouvernement de François Legaultveut d’ailleurs donner plus de mordant à la loi 101, car la fronde anglophone n’a jamais été aussi vive.

Pendant que sur le front politique le discours est à la défense du fait français, le terrain regorge d’incohérences qui ne commandent que de l’indignation. Comment en effet concilier ces deux données ? L’explosion spectaculaire du nombre d’étudiants internationaux dans les collèges du Québec — en hausse de 369 % en dix ans — a surtout profité aux établissements d’enseignement de langue anglaise. Mais en moins de deux ans, Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada (IRCC) a refusé 35 642 candidats originaires des principaux pays francophones du Maghreb et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest qui voulaient venir étudier au Québec.

Une première analyse brute des données dévoilées la semaine dernière par la journaliste du DevoirSarah R. Champagne donne à penser que le « système », dans son gigantisme et son indolence bureaucratique, effectue de la discrimination à l’entrée. Ouvrir les vannes à des étudiants anglophones venus de l’Inde et les accueillir à pleines portes dans des établissements privés non subventionnés de Montréal ? Que oui ! Mais accepter des candidats inscrits à des études supérieures en provenance du Maghreb et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, deux zones francophones ? Que nenni !

Les taux de refus pour ces deux bassins de locuteurs pourtant très francophones « frôlent les 100 % », dénoncent des avocats en immigration, qui ne s’expliquent pas le quasi-automatisme dans le rejet de candidatures pourtant bien défendues — dossier financier très solide, entre autres critères observés par les ministères de l’Immigration. Un nouveau système de tri automatique des candidatures en vigueur depuis 2018 serait-il en partie la cause de ces refus en bloc ? Personne ne peut le certifier, mais cela pourrait par exemple expliquer que, sur la base de revenus moyens par habitant très peu élevés dans certains pays d’Afrique, des dossiers de grande qualité présentés par des individus soient écartés avant même d’être analysés. Cette question mérite d’être creusée.

Plus on cherche à comprendre cette grande absurdité, plus on s’enfonce dans les contradictions. Celle-ci par exemple : un couple congolais au dossier financier plus que bien ficelé a reçu sa réponse de refus en l’espace d’une semaine en provenance des autorités canadiennes — déjà de quoi faire sourciller quand on sait que la question des délais interminables dans le traitement des dossiers d’immigration constitue le principal problème dénoncé par Québec. L’argument qu’on leur a donné ? L’agent d’immigration n’a pas été convaincu qu’ils quitteraient le Canada après leurs études. Quitteraient, oui. Pourtant, les politiques officielles et l’énergie déployée tant par le gouvernement du Québec que par celui du Canada vont dans le sens complètement contraire : celui de travailler au maintien des étudiants étrangers en sol québécois après la fin de leurs études. Que comprendre de ce cirque ?

Pour les mêmes pays d’origine, le Québec voit ses taux de refus plus élevés qu’ailleurs au Canada, ce qui s’expliquerait en partie par une méconnaissance des agents d’immigration du système collégial québécois, certains dossiers étant refusés sur la base d’une mauvaise liaison entre la demande d’étude et le cheminement scolaire du candidat. C’est à n’y rien comprendre : les cégeps existent depuis 1967 au Québec.

Le Québec, qui perd ici pied et contrôle sur une immigration potentielle de qualité en son propre sein, aurait raison de vociférer et de revendiquer la pleine maîtrise sur les flux d’entrée en ses frontières. Mais il devra aussi pratiquer un sérieux auto-examen. S’il n’a rien à voir avec le refus de candidatures francophones en provenance de pays du Maghreb et de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, c’est quand même dans sa propre cour que s’est jouée l’augmentation faramineuse d’étudiants étrangers anglophones — parfois même inscrits dans des cégeps francophones.

Dans une étude publiée par l’Institut de recherche en économie contemporaine, Éric N. Duhaime brosse un portrait statistique sans équivoque : alors que le recrutement d’étudiants étrangers au collégial s’était toujours historiquement tourné vers des bassins francophones, la tendance s’est inversée depuis 2017 environ. En 2019, « plus de la moitié des étudiants internationaux du réseau collégial provenaient de l’Inde (7687), dépassant les effectifs de la France (4072) ». Marché lucratif, détournement de mission pour le réseau de l’éducation et… impact significatif sur la langue d’usage dans les rues de Montréal, qu’on le veuille ou non.

Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/editoriaux/649134/etudiants-etrangers-les-francophones-discrimines?utm_source=infolettre-2021-11-23&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=infolettre-quotidienne

BIPOC or POC? Equity or Equality? The Debate Over Language on the Left.

Good discussion of the various positions and rationales, along with the risks of language debates distracting from addressing the harder intractable issues. I share the latter concern, as these debates are much easier than actual initiatives to reduce barriers and improve inclusion.

And a reminder that BIPOC is an American term, reflecting their reality, as Joseph Heath correctly called out in his The term ‘BIPOC’ is a bad fit for the Canadian discourse on race:

In California, a Black college freshman from the South is telling a story about his Latino friends from home when he is interrupted by a white classmate. “We say ‘Latinx’ here,” he recalls her saying, using a term he had not heard before, “because we respect trans people.”

In Philadelphia, Emma Blackson challenges her white neighbor’s assertion that Black children misbehave in school more than others. “It’s just my implicit bias,” the neighbor offers, saying that she had recently learned the phrase.

In Chicago, Kelsey O’Donnell, 31, wonders why colleagues and friends have suddenly started saying “BIPOC,” an acronym that encompasses individuals who are Black, Indigenous or other people of color. Where had it come from? “There was really nobody to ask,” says Ms. O’Donnell, who is white. “It was just, ‘This is what we say now.’”

Americans have always wrestled with language when it comes to describing race, with phrases and vocabulary changing to meet the struggles and values of the moment. But especially in the wake of last summer’s protests for social justice, there is a heightened attention to this language, say scholars and activists, as some on the left try to advance changes in the culture through words.

“You can’t change what you can’t name,” Cathy Albisa, vice president of institutional and sectoral change at the racial justice nonprofit Race Forward, said.

For some people, though, the new lexicon has become a kind of inscrutable code, set at a frequency that only a narrow, highly educated slice of the country can understand, or even a political litmus test in which the answers continually change. Others feel disappointment, after so many protests last summer demanded far deeper change on issues like criminal justice and voting rights.

“I really believed America was having a reckoning when it came to race,” said Ms. Blackson, a Black graduate student in epidemiology who has expressed her disillusionment on Twitter. “So far it’s been a lot of words.”

Unsurprisingly, the language itself has become contested, especially by conservatives who have leveraged discomfort with the new vocabulary to energize their base of white voters, referring to it as “wokespeak.” One conservative think tank circulated a list of words — including “microaggressions” and “Black Lives Matter” — that it said could alert parents that what has been labeled “Critical Race Theory” is being taught in their children’s schools. 

The new language extends beyond race, adding phrases and introducing ideas that are new to many Americans. Gender-neutral terms like “Latinx,” for people of Latin American descent, “they/them” pronouns that refer to a single person, and “birthing parent” or “pregnant people” instead of “mother,” to be inclusive of trans people, are also gaining traction.

Some activists defend the focus on language, saying that the way people use words is not mere symbolism but is necessary to achieving justice.

“Saying something like, ‘Black people are less likely to get a loan from the bank,’ instead of saying, ‘Banks are less likely to give loans to Black people,’ might feel like it’s just me wording it differently,” Rashad Robinson, president of the racial justice organization Color of Change, said. “But ‘Black people are less likely to get a loan from the bank’ makes people ask themselves, ‘What’s wrong with Black people? Let’s get them financial literacy programs.’ The other way is saying, ‘What’s wrong with the banks?’”

Mr. Robinson added, “When you’ve been on the margin, being able to claim a language and a narrative and a set of words to express yourself is incredibly important.”

Still, some other self-identified liberals who said they care deeply about social justice feel uncomfortable with some of the changes and the pressure that can be associated with them.

Ms. O’Donnell of Chicago said that, especially when she is among other white, college-educated liberals, “I’m exhausted by the constant need to be wary or you’ll instantly be labeled racist or anti-trans.”

And Stephen Paisley of Ithaca, N.Y., said he cringed at hearing libraries described at an academic conference as “sites of violence,” which is intended to reflect biases in how their rare books collections are curated. Rather than language that “tries to guilt people into action,” he said, he wishes the message was “white people, too, suffer from living in a society in which racial injustices and inequities persist.”

Many of the words surfacing in today’s language debates are not new.

“Implicit bias” traces to the work of psychologists in the 1990s, when the field began to document the subconscious associations that cause people to harbor stereotypes. The effort to substitute “enslaved people” for “slaves” has been long advocated by many Black academics to emphasize the violence that defined American slavery and the humanity of those subjected to it, said Anne Charity Hudley, a linguist at Stanford.

But it is only recently, Dr. Hudley said, that “all these terms are swirling around more in the public consciousness.”

The murder of George Floyd by the police and the outraged protests that followed — in large cities but also in small towns and suburbs across the country — was one catalyst for spreading the terms. The words reverberated across social media and book groups. The word “racism” is being looked up online twice as often as before the killing of Mr. Floyd, according to Merriam-Webster, which has updated its definition to illustrate how racism can be systemic. And more companies, small and large, began requiring language training as part of broader programs they say are aimed at creating a more welcoming culture for diverse work forces.

In a reflection of its surging popularity, “BIPOC” (pronounced “bye-pock”) received its first Merriam-Webster dictionary entry this year, though a number of linguists said they were not sure how the term emerged.

One reason BIPOC has engendered both backlash and bewilderment, said Nicole Holliday, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, is because it seems to be an example of “top-down language reform.” Widely shared over social media last year, its champions have said it is intended to emphasize the severity of racial injustice on Black and Indigenous people. But few Black or Indigenous people use it, language scholars say.

In a national poll conducted by Ipsos for The New York Times, more than twice as many white Democrats said they felt “very favorably” toward “BIPOC” as Americans who identify as any of the nonwhite racial categories it encompasses.

In “Why BIPOC Fails,” an essay in a recent issue of the Virginia Law Review, Meera Deo, a sociologist and professor at Southwestern Law School, notes that the term can end up being “confusing” or “misleading.”

The acronym, which was widely adopted only in the last year or so, is often misread as meaning “bisexual people of color.” Asian and Latino Americans are often left to wonder whether they are covered by the “POC” part of the acronym.

Racial justice activists have also long distinguished “equality” from “equity,” but the latter has filtered into the mainstream more recently. Supporters of the word say that it is preferable to “equality,” which they argue suggests that equal treatment is sufficient to achieve fair outcomes — a premise they maintain disregards built-in disadvantages caused by past and present discrimination, and the need for policies to counteract them.

The terms can seem to change swiftly too. Some scholars are now arguing that “implicit bias” should be replaced with “complicit bias,” saying that the former has been used as a kind of exoneration from the biases one holds rather than a call to address them.

In another example, “L.G.B.T.Q.,” the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning, has recently incorporated an “I” for intersex, for people whose biological sex characteristics don’t fit the traditional definitions of female or male, and an “A” for either asexual — someone who experiences little or no sexual attraction — or ally. And the addition of a “+” at the end is aimed at indicating that the term should not be seen as comprehensive.

“I’m trying to think why it makes me so angry that they keep adding letters,” said Laura Bradford, 52, of Nashville, Tenn., who is bisexual and married to a woman. “It’s like, ‘We’re trying to understand, but you’re making it too complicated!’’’

Still, like many Americans, Ms. Bradford said that she had felt “woken up” last summer after educating herself about racism in America. And the identity-politics term that disturbs her most is the pejorative use of “woke,” a word that has cycled through several meanings, including one that reflected her own experience but now carries the implication that social justice ideals are absurd or insincere.

“It’s mean,” she said. “Being woke is about realizing that you’ve been hurting someone for a long time.”

Whether using certain words is an indication of a willingness to upend the traditions that reinforce social inequalities, however, is unclear. For white liberals especially, “there is social pressure to engage with these words in the social moment,” Dr. Hudley said. “They see this as part of what it means to be an educated white person in certain places and spaces, whether they agree with it or not.”

The current struggles over language reflect meaningful shifts in thinking on some essential issues, experts say.

The addition of the word “structural” or “systemic” ahead of “racism,” for instance, stems from a broader acceptance of the idea that racism is not just personal prejudice but a set of disadvantages that start with the average white child being born into families that are wealthier than others, and extend to laws related to housing and voting, bank-lending policies and education systems.

“Compared to 18 months ago, the term ‘systemic racism’ is being used across the board, whether people are talking about it or denying its existence,” said the historian Ibram X. Kendi, whose book “How to Be an Antiracist” has been widely read.

For Nancy McDonald Ladd, a white senior minister at a Unitarian church in Bethesda, Md., that is made up of mostly white progressives, the fixation with language stems at least partly from a sincere desire to reorient one’s worldview. It can be hard to stay on top of lexical tweaks, which include words that distinguish between defining a person and describing a situation — “unhoused” instead of “homeless.”

Although the Rev. Ladd has sometimes seen her congregants’ deliberations over words as a substitute for more substantive action, the language is “not just virtue-signaling,’’ she said, referring to expressions of opinion intended to publicly demonstrate a person’s good character.

“It’s this deep-seated anxiety about failing,” she said. “So they’re reaching, we are reaching, reaching, reaching for the perfect language.”

Language change, linguists say, has long been a tool in shaping social perceptions of identity.

“Queer,” once a pejorative for gay, has been reclaimed as a self-affirming term, especially by a younger generation of the LGBTQIA+ community. “African American,” which became prevalent in the 1980s after the Rev. Jesse Jackson objected that “black” reduced the complexity of race to a skin color, is now being superseded by “Black,” with a capital “B,” to underline a shared political identity among disparate groups.

Changes in language, of course, also make people feel anxious because they signify changes in society.

The honorific “Ms.” for instance, encountered decades of resistance before it became a widely preferred alternative to identifying women by their marital status.

Still others see the attention on language as a dodge.

Increasingly prevalent statements known as “land acknowledgments,” in which officials mention that a speech or public event is taking place on land once occupied by Indigenous people, have recently come in for criticism. Summer Wilkie, a member of the Cherokee Nation, suggested in a recent essay that they can simply seem shallow and take focus away from policies that support Indigenous people.

Those statements that are meant to convey “thank you” or indicate that the speaker is a “guest,” Ms. Wilkie said, are especially “empty and alienating.”

Lucia Martel-Dow, an immigration lawyer in liberal Marin County, has had a similar thought about white progressives who reflexively use “Latinx.” She has no problem with the term, which has been adopted by a small fraction of U.S. adults who identify as being of Latin American descent, to avoid defaulting to the masculine “Latino” and to be inclusive of people who identify as neither male nor female. But how many white Marin residents making a point to use inclusive language, she wondered, also supported changing the zoning laws to create more housing opportunities for Latin American immigrants?

“You can say ‘Latinx’ all day,” she said, “but if you’re not doing the work, I don’t care.”

Such observations are borne out in a national survey this year by Jennifer Chudy, a political scientist at Wellesley College. Even white Americans with the highest levels of concern about racial discrimination, she found, ranked activities like “listening to people of color” or “educating myself about racism” as more important than “choosing to live in a racially diverse community,” “bringing racial issues to the attention of elected officials,” or voting.

One risk of using words without really meaning them, said Dr. Holliday, the linguist, is the overuse of a term — like “inclusion” — to the point where its meaning is diluted, which linguists call “semantic bleaching.”

Lucia Martel-Dow, an immigration lawyer in liberal Marin County, has had a similar thought about white progressives who reflexively use “Latinx.” She has no problem with the term, which has been adopted by a small fraction of U.S. adults who identify as being of Latin American descent, to avoid defaulting to the masculine “Latino” and to be inclusive of people who identify as neither male nor female. But how many white Marin residents making a point to use inclusive language, she wondered, also supported changing the zoning laws to create more housing opportunities for Latin American immigrants?

“You can say ‘Latinx’ all day,” she said, “but if you’re not doing the work, I don’t care.”

Such observations are borne out in a national survey this year by Jennifer Chudy, a political scientist at Wellesley College. Even white Americans with the highest levels of concern about racial discrimination, she found, ranked activities like “listening to people of color” or “educating myself about racism” as more important than “choosing to live in a racially diverse community,” “bringing racial issues to the attention of elected officials,” or voting.

One risk of using words without really meaning them, said Dr. Holliday, the linguist, is the overuse of a term — like “inclusion” — to the point where its meaning is diluted, which linguists call “semantic bleaching.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/01/us/terminology-language-politics.html

FATAH: The census battle over mother tongues

Not sure to which extent the campaign mentioned by Fatah makes a difference. 2016 Census reported 502,700 Punjabi speakers, 211,995 Urdu:

There are times when one wonders if the policy of multiculturalism is a value worth enshrining as a Canadian value or whether it’s a time bomb that is slowly eroding the foundations of our country.

Where once we had to bring the Quebecois and Anglo Canadians together and bridge the Protestant-Catholic divide, today we are facilitating endless petty schisms among new Canadians, matters often seeped in the very hostility they escaped.

Source: FATAH: The census battle over mother tongues