Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The Bilingual Advantage

So like yeah Mme. Notimportant said the F word today.

Pardon me?

Yeah. She was complaining about how we did on the spring concert which like I really think we did great didn't you Mom?

Of course.

Yeah. So like anyway she was like you guys really F'd up. You came down the stairs on the left side and you were supposed to come down on the right side, and then the kids on the right side came down on the middle side.

(Middle is not a side.)

Huh. So it wasn't even about the singing part of the concert?

No. That's the weird thing. It was about the line. But she said it all in French, obviously. So Mom, can you like call the school?

Um, well you are actually in the school so don't you think this would make more sense coming from you?

Well since you're a parent don't you think - oh, actually that's rude. How come we never have any bananas? I want a banana. I don't want to talk to the school can you do it.

Hello is the vice-principal there please? I have to speak to him about coarse language, viewer discretion is advised an important issue?

Hi, this is Mr. Vice Principal. What can I do for you?

(Explain situation).

Well, you aren't the first person to call me to complain about this.


And it seems there is a simple explanation.

I'm listening.

Mme. Notimportant is French? And in French, in Quebec, the F word is not particularly offensive. It's something you'd say to your grandmother. Especially as a verb, as it was used in this context.

Seriously? What if your grandmother doesn't speak French?

Yes. So Mme. N, without realizing that the kids would take it the wrong way, used F in a French sentence, where it is considerably less offensive than in an English phrase where it would be considered grounds for dismissal significantly more impactful.

She has apologized to the children.

Reasons Why We're Lucky to Live in Montreal

1. The public schools are still warm and fuzzy and you can get the Vice Principal on the phone in a flash.

2. Everyone thinks it's normal for a teacher to apologize to students.

3. As long as you swear in the appropriate official language, you will not get in trouble.

4. If you run out of bananas, you can give your kids poutine.

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