12 Struggles Of Being Bilingual In Montreal
La vie is hard
So you've all seen articles about the hardships that come with being strictly anglophone or strictly francophone in Montreal. And I'm definitely not saying that it isn't accurate. Those guys can have it rough and are troupers for forging onwards. For the love of Montreal! However, though being bilingual has many many advantages it comes with its own unique set of challenges. Petty ones? Perhaps. But challenges nonetheless.
1. You become the spokesperson of the group
You're out with an anglo friend for dinner and somehow you're expected to order for them. A tourist comes up to you and your francophone friends and all heads turn to you because apparently you're the only one who can respond. It's not like you just bit into a hot dog or anything.
2. People ask you to spell words and you forget how to language
Is it exemple or example? Defenitely? Definetely? Fedinetly? Yeah that one, for sure. And since when does "arbre" have so many Rs?? Future and futur: which is in french and which one is in english? I have no clue
(mostly because mine is down the toilet).
3. You switch between the two languages without noticing
You start off in french and finish it up in english throwing some biblioteca in there somewhere. You sound like a hot multicultural mess which isn't a problem when you're with people who speak all the same languages as you. When you're not, however, it confuses everyone yourself included because odds are you don't notice you do it and don't understand why no one is answering you.
4. You dont even notice what language other people are speaking
This doesn't seem to be a problem at all, but I've definitely found it to be an issue. It was long ago, at an old job (before I got this sweet gig), I was transferring a call from head office to my boss and she asks me (while the call was on hold some where in the phoneverse- where do calls even go when they're on hold): "English or french?" Which seems like a reasonable question. One I did not have the answer to. I got fired. No I'm kidding, I'm a delight.
5. Mixing definitions
Actually and actuellement aren't the same thing, people (i.e: me). Neither are to assume and assumer in some cases.
6. You constantly need to reassure your non bilingual friends
It gets old. You're all dope-ass people and shouldn't get yourselves down over this.
7. You're writing an essay in french? You only remember english words.
If I had an A every time this happened to me, I'd have gotten
more As in my academic career. To make matters worse, often times, using a translator (or you know... a dictionary) doesn't bring you to the word you were looking for, because nuances.
8. You get asked to proof read everyone's everything
And you do, because you're nice and kind and giving and just an all around fvcking terrific human being. But the thing is, you get lazy and you barely even proof read your own work so why the hell are you stuck doing it for someone else?
9. Having to answer the question “What is your mother tongue?”
You don’t understand, I learned both simultaneously, as I'm sure a lot of you did, too. I almost entirely owe my english to Disney Channel (RIP Boy meets world). (Also, Walt.)
10. Words and expressions don't always translate well
Don't wait for the other chaussure to drop, because you'll be biting the brat. Wait, what? Exactly.
11. Your friends get shocked when they hear you speak a (foreign) language
Usually on the phone, the same people you've been friends with since the third year of high school get super shocked when they hear you tell your mom that yes you took the chicken out of the freezer in Spanish or Korean. It's like they forget you're not originally from here and can, in fact, roll your Rs.
12. People ask you to say something in your (foreign) language
It's pretty cool that people are interested and that we live in a city where mostly everyone is curious and open minded. It still gets hella awkward though, when you ask them what they'd like to hear and there are no suggestions so you just say something lame and now everyone knows your true lame self which you've kept hidden so well for so long. It's unfortunate but it is what it is. Now you can pack up and go live another life under another name elsewhere. It's a good thing you're bilingual, huh?
En conclusion, we really don't have it so bad. Just thinking of all the people you've gotten to know and will get to know in the future (yes, it's the one with the e) because of your bilingualism makes the entire list above worth it. More so, considering how you've blessed so many more people with your friendship, well that's just sans prix.