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Why Montreal's 'Franglais' Is So Precious To Me

As Montrealers, we get to have our own secret language!

Contributing Writer
Woman on Montreal rooftop. Right: Montreal flag.

Woman on Montreal rooftop. Right: Montreal flag.

Montreal has so many unique aspects to it, but I can easily say the one that sets us apart from many other large Canadian cities is the existence and use of "Franglais" in our day-to-day.

To me, the fact that les gens de Montréal can speak les deux langues interchangeably is une vraie partie of the city's essence.

Honestly, maybe growing up watching Miss Piggy on The Muppets is where my love for the Franglais language came from. But that was only the seed being planted, the growth for my love of franglais came from the many conversations I've had with both anglophones and francophones in the 514.

What does Franglais even mean?

In simple terms, it's the use of both English and French words in the same sentence.

But if you're fluent in Franglais, you know it means so much more. It's part of our connection to Montreal.

It's essentially a hybrid dialect understood by all bilingual Montrealers — so it's kind of like our own secret language, which is why I often prefer it to English, because I feel like a true Montrealer whenever words from both languages start coming out of my mouth.

Montreal influencers love the use of Franglais too, like the iconic Tika The Iggy whose video voiceovers almost always have a bit of French mixed into his English sentences.

If you're catching onto the theme here, fabulous beings clearly choose to speak Franglais.

Here's why I love Franglais so much

The beauty of franglais is how effortlessly it happens. No one has to waste their time mentally translating their thoughts, they can just say them in whatever language they came in.

Some things don’t translate properly, so Franglais lets us keep the real meaning of whatever we're trying to say.

My definition of Franglais would be that it only exists here, at least in the way we know it.

Most Montrealers subconsciously speak it and you only realize once you're speaking to full-on anglophones or francophones.

I've had experiences where anglo-Canadians, like people from British Columbia, have had no idea what I’m saying when I use words like "toutou" to describe a teddy bear or "depanneur" when talking about a corner store.

When this happens, I suddenly realized I've been speaking Franglais for so long that it comes as second nature to me, although there's a huge part of the population that has no clue what I'm saying when I do. But, that makes me bien fier d'être montréalaise.

Other places in the world speak hybrids of languages, but this is the one I grew up with. One of my favourite sayings has to be referring to yourself as "moi" the way both Miss Piggy and any young girl who just went to Paris for the first time do.

Politicians likely look at Franglais as a decline of the French language — but I don't

Politicians in our province are quick to look at anything with English involved as a decline of the French language in Quebec — take the CAQ's decision to shelve the expansion of Dawson College and keep its funds for French CEGEPs instead. But, there have been concerns about the inability of some anglophone students to pass French CEGEP courses, which means they're missing out on being able to take part in the Franglais language.

In my opinion, we shouldn't look at Franglais like it means French is declining, but as an amazing hybrid language that’s unique to this city.

Plus, we should note that Franglais is not French being eroded by English any more than it is English being eroded by French — it's right at the centre. So, it should just cancel the two concerns out.

To me, Franglais is not a problem at all but rather the coming together of cultures, a sign of intelligence and proof that our bilingual education system actually did something.

Franglais is proof that our education system actually worked

Since anyone who can speak proper Franglais clearly understands most of both languages, I see such as proof that our years of bilingual education in Quebec were a success.

Plus, there are of studies out there that have found that children who grew up speaking more than one language have many cognitive benefits later in life, including greater problem solving abilities, better information processing and impulse control, and a stronger memory.

So why shouldn't we celebrate the fact that the majority of people who grew up in Quebec during the last few decades can now speak both English and French? Even if it comes out in the form of Franglais. It's not one or the other, it's putting both together.

Recent concerns about the inability of some anglophone students to pass CEGEP courses in French are important — those anglos are missing out.

Should Franglais be Montreal's official language?

The forever-ongoing English vs. French war in our province could all end so simply if we just all accepted the use of Franglais as our main form of communication. It already is for a majority of the young population anyway, right?

Maybe if we all just accept Franglais as our third official language, all the language conflicts would simply solve themselves. Ça donne à réfléchir!

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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