Once again, the National Assembly of Quebec has rekindled the language debate ahead of the Grand Prix de Montreal. The Parti-Quebecois adopted a resolution last year that urged merchants to eschew the common "Bonjour-Hi" greeting in favour of just "Bonjour". The motion passed with unanimous support.
In the real world, however, many businesses were slow to adopt their policy and many simply ignored it. If you've gone shopping in Downtown Montreal recently, you know this all too well. Many retail and restaurant employees are conditioned to say "Bonjour-Hi" in the spirit of Montreal's bilingual nature.
The debate over the use of "Bonjour-Hi" triggered the Anglophone community of Quebec to collectively roll their eyes and take to social media to express their frustrations with the government's endless language debates.
The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) in fact acknowledges that despite their efforts to stop the spread of "Bonjour-Hi" in Quebec businesses, the greeting is alive and well. Their issue is in Downtown Montreal, with its thousands of tourists and bilingual spirit.
Hey @AssnatQc: HI! Bonjour! Shalom! Hola! Now that that's out of the way, could you please focus on real proble… https://t.co/oc65OrKgqY— Kory Bobrow (@Kory Bobrow) 1559927846.0
Simply asking to stop using the greeting in businesses isn't a legally binding thing, so don't worry about being forced to use a French-only greeting if you work in the city. Of course, based on how much attention the OQLF is giving this issue, merchants should be aware that their agents often perform spot checks on businesses in Downtown Montreal.
Le @PartiQuebecois y va ce matin d’une motion concernant l’accueil en français dans les places d’affaires, particul… https://t.co/cCzW96sj0P— Pascal Bérubé (@Pascal Bérubé) 1559910282.0
Translation: "The Parti Quebecois made a motion this morning concerning French greetings in the workplace, particularly in Montreal. Between 2010 and 2017, French-only greetings decreased from 84% to 75%. For us, language is an important issue.
Though the resolution passed without debate, politicians should be aware that 46% of shoppers are completely indifferent over which language they're greeted with.
While the motion presented by the government doesn't specifically ask businesses to abolish the use of the greeting, the implication was clear.
Thousands of tourists are expected to descend on Montreal this weekend for the Grand Prix, many of whom are exclusively English speakers. While the government wants to accommodate tourists as much as possible, they're worried about the sanctity of the French language.
The OQLF and the Quebec government are urging merchants to use a unilingual greeting, however, many choose the business as usual approach to in-store greetings.
This isn't to say that the French language isn't important. Keeping track of individual greetings, though, seems like bean-counting from a government who already has enough in their plate.
Next time you're shopping in Downtown Montreal or elsewhere in the city, try to keep track of how many times you're greeted with a "Bonjour-Hi". The results might surprise you!
If you're a retail employee, you shouldn't worry about being legally obligated to use a unilingual greeting. Unless your boss actually mentions something to you, feel free to use "Bonjour-Hi"!
The Quebec government has reignited the language debate ahead of the Grand Prix weekend, pleading that businesses should adopt using a unilingual greeting in stores and restaurant. The motion continues to frustrate the Anglophone community of Montreal. It seems like "Bonjour-Hi is here to stay no matter what.
To read more about the debate, please read this article from The Montreal Gazette.