Montreal, as we all are very aware, is filled with beautiful diversity and culture. A big part of this culture is the mix of the French and English languages. And what exists in our city, that occurs almost nowhere else in the world, is the curious use of "franglais."
If you live here and consider yourself bilingual, there is a huge chance that some of the sentences that come out of your mouth are half in English and half in French.
Take for example when you're telling your friends about your jeudi plans, and you let them know you're going to un p'tit 5 (cinq) à 7 (sept). And then you go on to tell them about un beau gosse who has a "je ne sais quoi" about them, and no one has to ask what you mean.
It may seem like it's just the use of anglicisms or francization, but it's really so much more than that. It's the intertwining of two cultures to create one. But, a Reddit thread began that questioned why two people who both speak French would continue to speak "franglais" with each other, and wondering – what exactly is the reason behind mixing the two languages together?
As a Montrealer, people are forever asking you if your mother tongue is French or English, and it can get annoying if you just want to express yourself in a happy medium of the two. So, if you feel me on this one, here's what you can tell people from this point forward:
One Reddit user, @deutschelunchbox, lets everyone reading the thread know that this use of both French and English in the same sentence is known in linguistics as "code-switching." In a direct message, this user explained to me that we use code-switching in informal contexts to be better understood. In the 80s, it began to be regarded as normal for anyone that spoke more than one language — if that's a consolation for any of us who feared our franglais vocabulary as weird.
Montrealers choose one language over the other for specific words because they feel that they can express certain sentiments better in one tongue over the other.
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Do we switch languages when we assume the person we're speaking to will better understand us or do we do it because we cannot think of certain words in the language in which we were originally speaking?
It's hard to think about it because franglais for us Montrealers seems to come so naturally.
Some people argue that bilingualism is not a language, and while of course, this is true, does it mean franglais cannot be a language? Is it simply our Montreal way of showing off our ability to speak two languages?
In a direct message, this Reddit user told me they "think franglais is to Montreal what poutine is to Quebec," and I think that's rather poetic (and accurate).
In my opinion, Montreal is blessed to have invented its own little language, or dialectic, at least. It's just further proof of how unique our city is. Some people even say franglais is like a secret language since other people around the world can't understand it. So, franglais is almost a superpower in this sense.
Intrigued by the Reddit thread, MTL Blog took the language conversation to Twitter, where we asked people what speaking franglais means to them. Here are some of the responses:
Life in Montreal can be hard, franglais seems to help make it a little easier.
And it's a 2 in 1 when it comes to language skills.
We're happy to hear there's harmony in the coexistence of these two languages.
Sometimes it's just pure amusing to read!
Lucky us, indeed! Since this means we can ghost people in two languages:
And, the leader of our country, Justin Trudeau, speaks franglais too. So, I vote it's a real, Montreal-specific language.
Most of us accidentally switch from English to French, or vice versa, in the same sentence... Do any of us know exactly why? It seems this question is something for which we may never get a full answer, or whose answer is completely subjective. Regardless, franglais is a deeply embedded part of Montreal culture that I hope never fades away.