Being bilingual may be convenient, but it comes with it's own set of problems. The main one being that our brain sometimes makes a switch from French to English without us realizing, and that can be dangerous when the French word you're using has a completely different meaning in English.
I first noticed this when I was talking about wine and I kept saying "raisins" instead of "grapes". Of course that eventually led to a crazy scheme to make pre-aged wine using raisins instead of grapes, but I digress.
I realized there were several other words with very different meanings, and that can be confusing as hell to someone trying to master both languages.
Here are some of my favorites:
(Words in Italics are French)
1. Entree vs Entrée
This one bothers me more than the rest, "entrée" in French translates to "entrance", so it's logical for it to refer to the first thing you eat during a meal, such as a salad. But for some reason "entree" in English refers to your main course.
So fuck it, I'm using entree as an entrée to this article.
2. Bless vs Blesse
This is funny because even though only one letter differs, the meaning is completely opposite. "Blesse" in French means "hurt" and in English it means invoking divine favor.
3. Assist vs Assiste
With only one extra letter, you'd think the meaning would be relatively similar. after all, French is always adding random E's at the end of words , that's just what they do right?
However, "Assist" means you're helping someone. But in French, "assiste" means to attend something.
3. Attends vs Attends
To make the previous point even more confusing, in English the word "attends" means to be present somewhere, but in French it means "wait".
4. Bras vs Bras
This one makes me laugh. In French it simply means arms and in English it's a device to support your boobs. But technically arms can also be used to support boobs. And who doesn't appreciate a good handbra?(NSFW)
5. Cent vs Cent
I guess the French are simply more optimistic than the English. The same word can refer to "100" in French and yet, it's the lowest form of currency in English.
6. Coin vs Coin
Speaking of money, in English coin is money but in French it means the corner. Oddly enough people have had a long history of standing on street corners to earn some coin.
7. Con vs Con
Another interesting one, in French "con" means idiot. While "con" means to scam, which in a way makes the the person who got scammed feel idiotic.
8. Crayon vs Crayon
This one really messed with me growing up because a "crayon" in French is a pencil, which we would use to do serious school work. Try asking for a "crayon" in English without sounding like a kindergartner holding a coloring book.
9. Demand vs Demande
Again, complete opposites. To demand something literally means "I'm not asking, I'm requesting". But in French it just means "asking".
10. Douche vs Douche
They're close because they both refer to "cleaning". But in French it's a shower and in English ... well it's way too early in the day for me to start elaborating on the English definition.
11. Bite vs Bites
This is kind of scary. Two words that should never be associated under any circumstance. In case you don't think so, consider this: "Bite" means penis in French. Which means the worst thing that could ever happen to you while getting a BJ would be for someone to bite your "bite".
12. Gross vs Grosse
This one is just plain cruel. Imagine if the word for referring to a fat woman literally meant "disgusting".
"We live in a francophone province in a francophone city from a legislative perspective, but the reality of Montreal is far different," the leader of Mouvement Montréal said in an interview with MTL Blog.
"So, for us, it was important to re-establish the identity of Montreal, which is one that is inclusive."
"We want to make clear that we want companies on the Island of Montreal to be able to operate in both languages without interference from the provincial government," Holness said.
And it calls for a review of the city's hiring processes to allow anglophones with "functional-level, but not high-level, French" to land municipal jobs.
He would also amend article 13 of the city charter to change Montreal from "a French-speaking city that, according to the law, also provides services to its citizens in English," to a bilingual one.
A lot of people agree, Holness says
"This is not a contested question," Holness said, citing a survey showing most Montrealers believe the city is bilingual. "We all know Montreal is bilingual and multicultural and it is something that we should embrace and recognize."
"Moreover, Montreal beyond that is even trilingual," he continued. "There are people from all over the world who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian. And all of these languages make up the diversity of Montreal, and it enriches us all."
Rather than contributing to the decline of French in Montreal, Holness said his language policies would help preserve it by offering non-francophones incentives to learn.
"The fact that we are going to incentivize and ameliorate the chances of anglophones to work in the City of Montreal means they'll be able to learn French through their employment activity," he said. "We're going to be increasing la francisation des anglophones."
"Right now, what's happening is that we're excluding anglophones," he continued. "They're moving to demerged cities such as Westmount, such as Côte Saint-Luc, such as Kirkland. They're not being incorporated into the reality and to the economic life of Montreal, and we're just pushing them all away."
Holness wants more jobs for people with spotty French
If elected, Mouvement Montréal would work to create a more inclusive municipal workforce because it's currently falling short in terms of ethnic and linguistic diversity, he said.
Of the city's roughly 25,000 municipal employees, "only about 2% of those in management positions are visible minorities and even less of those are anglophone," Holness claimed.
To change that he plans to lower the French language requirements for municipal jobs.
"Right now, when you go in for a [municipal] job, there is an evaluation based on your capacity to speak French," he said.
"So, we want to create assessments and evaluations of language that are less severe to allow individuals to get into the workforce. And then they can learn French, once they are on the job, through their interactions with their coworkers and with the public."
"The idea is that anglophones, especially those that are visible minorities, should have an easier time getting into the workforce," he continued.
'They don't want to be inclusive'
On November 7 people will vote to elect a mayor as well as 46 members of Montreal's City Council.
The current mayor, Projet Montréal's Valérie Plante, is seeking re-election and her main challenger is the previous mayor, Ensemble Montréal's Denis Coderre.
As Plante recently introduced an "action plan" to promote the French language in Montreal and Coderre is reportedly open to provincial government-led language reform, Holness accused his opponents of trying to impose provincial ideas on the metropolis.
"Valérie Plante is from Rouyn-Noranda, Denis Coderre is from Joliette," he continued. "And there's this whole idea that the regions are imposing on Montreal their vision for Montreal. And the question is, what do Montrealers want for their city?"
"Many people across the region say Montreal is the only francophone city in North America, and they're right, but Montreal also has a bilingual multicultural reality," he said. "So you have Quebec City trying to impose an identity on Montreal does not meet reality, which is multilingual and multicultural."
"We need a multilingual and multicultural policy and beyond that, a political party that reflects that diversity through and through," he added.
Projet Montréal does not reflect that diversity, he concluded, explaining how he helped organize a grassroots anti-racism movement, which he says prompted the city's public consultation agency to hold a series of hearings on systemic discrimination in 2019.
As a result, Plante created a commissioner on systemic discrimination and promised to hire more minorities for municipal jobs. But Holness had sharp words for the mayor, saying she only took those steps out of "obligation."
"The reason why there was a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination is because the administration had an all-white French executive committee when they were elected in 2017. Period. That's their vision of Montreal," he said.
"They don't want to be inclusive," he said. "Mouvement Montréal, my political party, is by its very nature, authentically diverse. We've done in two months what it took them nearly two decades to do, which is have a diverse team."
Mary Simon's approval rating is lower in Quebec compared to the rest of Canada, a poll released Wednesday showed, because the new governor general can't speak French.
An Angus Reid Institute poll of 2,049 Canadians found only 49% of Quebecers approve of her appointment compared to 74% of respondents in the rest of the country.
"Despite being from Nunavik (the Inuit homeland in Northern Quebec), and having been awarded the [province's] highest distinction, many Quebecers remain unconvinced Mary Simon is the best choice for governor general due to her lack of fluency in French," stated the Angus Reid Institute.
"Support is cleaved along linguistic divides in the only majority Francophone province in Canada," it continued, as only 40% of Quebecers whose first language is French approve of her appointment compared to 81% of English speakers.
Though Simon, the country's first Indigenous governor general, is not currently fluent in French, she has promised to learn, Angus Reid stated.
Le Marché Fooderie, a kosher market on Avenue du Parc, and Cible Jeu, in Ville Saint-Laurent, both pleaded guilty to violating section 52 of the Charter, which says "Catalogues, brochures, folders, commercial directories and any similar publications must be drawn up in French."
The infractions were specifically related to their websites, and each business was fined $1,500.
Guy LaRue, a notary in Verdun, pleaded guilty for posting public signs in French and another language, with French not being clearly predominant. He was fined $600.
Diebold Nixdorf Canada, which specializes in global banking and retail technologies, was fined $1,500 for violating section 140 of the Charter, meaning it did not submit its "francization program" to the OQLF within six months of receiving a notice about it.
"The francization program is intended to generalize the use of French at all levels of the enterprise," the Charter says.
This article's cover photo was used for illustrative purposes only.
A hotel group based in Matane, Bonaventure and Percé — all seaside cities with beaches in Quebec's Gaspésie region — is hiring 30 hospitality workers for the summer season. Bonus: applicants don't need to speak French for certain positions.
Groupe Riôtel also provides accommodations near the hotel where you work so you won't have to worry about finding somewhere to stay. You'll essentially be paid to live and work in a gorgeous paradise!
Currently, the hotel group is hiring chefs, sous-chefs, hotel hosts, receptionists, maintenance workers, estheticians, pool technicians, bussers, banquet hall workers, call centre agents and more.
Nathalie Blouin, Riôtel's vice-president of sales and marketing, told MTL Blog that while bilingualism is an asset, applicants don't have to speak any French to work in the region due to subsections of Anglophone populations in the Gaspé peninsula.
Each posting is different and requires different education, skills and experience — but suffice to say, we would make the move to work in a small seaside city in Quebec for the summer.
Groupe Riôtel in Gaspésie
Salary: Varies by role
Location: Matane, Bonaventure & Percé, Quebec
Company: Groupe Riôtel
Who Should Apply: Any hospitality worker — French isn't needed.