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Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page 506

Posted by timothy
from the at-least-they-don't-require-german dept.
New submitter wassomeyob writes "In Canada, the province of Quebec has their Official Language Act of 1974 (aka Bill 22) which makes French their sole official language. It has famously been used to force business owners to modify signage to give French pre-eminance over other languages. Now, the Quebec language police seem to be extending their reach to Facebook. Eva Cooper owns Delilah in the Parc — a shop in Chelsea, Quebec near the Quebec/Ontario border. She received a letter from the language office telling her to translate everything posted on her store's Facebook page into French."
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Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page

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  • by Huntr (951770) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:22PM (#46358341)

    "Language Police"

    Anything after that is kind of irrelevant.

    • My thoughts exactly. Uninformative crap post. Suppose this is "shocking" news if you are not familiar with Quebec's history and language / culture laws. Really just seems like enforcement of existing laws,
  • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:22PM (#46358345)

    Ok, its a stupid law, and I'm not going to defend it.

    But if the Quebec based store is maintaining a website, it needs to have a french translation, and a company's facebook page is little different than a geocities site from 1998, and is just another form of advertising for the company so this is entirely consistent with how the law has been enforced in the past.

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:28PM (#46358435) Homepage Journal

      Should it really, though? If you run a store on a border town, where the majority don't actually speak french, should some demi-nationalists be able to dictate your areas culture?

      It'd be like the rest of Canada forcing the Quebecois to have English everywhere.

      • That would actually make more sense, as French-speaking Canadians are five times more likely to know English than English-speaking Canadians are to know French. Outside of Quebec, there's only about half a million native French speakers in Canada and even within Quebec, half of the French-speaking population knows English.

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          I would like to know where you are getting your statistics.

          half of the French-speaking population knows English.

          I would think that ratio would be much higher considering almost all the rest of North America is English

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by aardvarkjoe (156801)

            ...almost all the rest of North America is English

            There's a little country south of the U.S. that might disagree with that...

      • Near a border is a an irrelevant legal distinction. You're in one region or the other. And you have to comply with the laws of that region. And yes, you should have to.

        Nor does it matter if you don't share the politics of those that won democratic elections and made the law.

        They want to defend their culture against the cultural imperialism of the US and their use of the English language. They are quite entitled to do so.

        • The near-border quality was a situational description, not a legal one. I was arguing against the intent of the law, thanks.

        • by sjbe (173966)

          Near a border is a an irrelevant legal distinction. You're in one region or the other. And you have to comply with the laws of that region. And yes, you should have to.

          Even if those laws are morally wrong or economically stupid? Just because it is a law doesn't make it a good idea nor does it mean that you should automatically comply with a stupid and pointless law. Fight the good fight if it is worth fighting. I know plenty of businessmen (including some of my family) who refuse to do business in France because of the burden of this language law.

          They want to defend their culture against the cultural imperialism of the US and their use of the English language.

          Passing laws like this will not "defend their culture". It merely hurts them economically, makes them look stupid to the re

        • by Ken D (100098)

          I always find it amusing that somehow it is described as the French "defending" their culture against the English "cultural imperialism" when it is the French who use the strong arm tactics to force people to use French who otherwise don't want to.

          My son was bemused when the Russian Olympics featured French announcements. Why not Spanish or Chinese which have each have more speakers than French?

      • You failed to read the post you're responding to. The author said the law was stupid. vux984 was, however, saying that if the law is consistent it applies just as much to a company-owned Facebook page as their non-social media Internet advertising.
      • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:33PM (#46359473)

        It depends on what your definition of society is.

        Some people view society as little more than a financial transaction with the government. I pay my tax. I get these services.

        Others view society as sharing common values and culture. And this is a feedback loop. Government influences culture and values and people influence government.

        I don't understand the attachment to language, but I know people do. I'm of Indian descent and there are lots of Indians who have a strong attachment to language. Many will say, we need to keep our language. The kids will learn English in school anyways. So I have plenty of exposure to this French way of thinking.

        Quebec, for whatever reason wishes to maintain its culture, which includes the French Language. I think that is a valid goal even if I don't agree with it. But I acknowledge I'm an odd person who doesn't get attached to symbols and I'm a live and let live person.

        Believe it or not, I think white people have a right to their culture as much as all other cultures on Earth. I don't get why white people are so keen on making sure immigrants get to keep their culture while doing nothing to support their own. But whatever... that is a side rant.

        Does it go too far? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't live in Quebec. I live in the evil Toronto. But I certainly don't think invalid for a country/province/area to try and enforce its culture. Maybe it is a losing fight. I happen to think so. I'd much rather try and push culture positively by having quality French based media, controlling immigration... than punitive things like this.

        But I think it is a strange day when people don't think a government has a role in culture of the society it governments.

      • by N1AK (864906)

        Should it really, though? If you run a store on a border town, where the majority don't actually speak french, should some demi-nationalists be able to dictate your areas culture?

        Yes. It's stupid and backwards but it's a democracy and the people of Quebec are voting for this kind of crap. It wouldn't be anything like Quebecois forcing it on the rest of Canada because this region is part of Quebec and Canada isn't part of Quebec ;)

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:29PM (#46358457) Homepage

      "it needs to"

      How fucked up has the world become where everyone gets to decide what a store owner "needs to" do but the store owner.

      • How fucked up has the world become where everyone gets to decide what a store owner "needs to" do but the store owner.

        Oh you mean we shouldn't require people to keep their storefront clear of trash? We shouldn't require them to pay their employees? How about we let them dump hazardous chemicals wherever they want? Look, this language law is stupid both morally and economically but let's not expand the stupidity by claiming that every requirement a business is subjected to is dumb. Some are very good ideas and others not so much. This language law falls into the not so much category.

        What I'm confused by is why both Fra

        • Well the French and the English have had their centuries of fighting each other for political and social dominance.

          In short the English Won. However the French while military peaceful with the English will refuse to give up any social dominance they might have.

          We see this in America. as Hispanics are growing, there is a massive push back to make sure that "'Merica don't be a Spanish Speaking country"

          In short the French still see English as a bunch of barbarians, and they feel that they must keep civilizat

        • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

          storefront clear of trash

          if it spills into the public property, then there is a problem. if the trash is completely on the stores property, the market will likely take care of it.

          require them to pay their employees

          the deal worked out between the person selling labor and the person buying labor is between those parties, and not your / our / my business.

          dump hazardous chemicals wherever

          again, if the chemicals get off the property then we have a problem. if the chemicals stay on the property, not your / our / my problem.

          • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:46PM (#46359663)

            Alright... how about a business that discriminates against blacks? Or the disabled?

            if the trash is completely on the stores property

            Will the extra rats the trash attracts also stay on the stores property?

            the market will likely take care of it.

            How so? A restaurant can maintain a presentable dining room whilst maintaining a disgustingly unsanitary kitchen and food storage areas. The market might take care of it eventually, but how many people need to get sick (even die) before the 'market' catches on.

            again, if the chemicals get off the property then we have a problem. if the chemicals stay on the property, not your / our / my problem.

            Even if they are harmful to the employees?

            the deal worked out between the person selling labor and the person buying labor is between those parties, and not your / our / my business.

            So locking them in at night so they can't escape a fire is ok, or working with hazardous chemicals without adequate safety equipment is fine too (as above) as long they were desperate enough for food to feed their family to agree to those terms?

            The market has long track record of ensuring the wealthy capitalist who owns the property and the means of production doesn't take advantage or abuse the fact that he tends to have a massive advantage* when negotiating wages and working conditions right?

            That advantage being that he can generally easily afford not to hire someone today; and his business will continue to run and earn him money. Whilst a potential employee needs to eat and provide himself shelter each day, whether he works or not. Its only when employees band together into some sort of 'united front' that they can negotiate on the same level... but these united fronts for negotiation, or 'unions' are the root of all evil I'm sure.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I will. There are a lot of good reasons to have an official language.
      Costs, same expectations, safety, I could go on.
      The french take it too far.
      It's why I think that in order to get a license, or use some services, you should be able to communicate to some degree in English.

      The US is spending many billions of dollar trying to make every in every language.

      Just to be clear, this is about using some government service, and driving. If you want to put all your store signs in Klingon, for all I care. well... I w

      • I will. There are a lot of good reasons to have an official language. Costs, same expectations, safety, I could go on.

        Most places have a de-facto language or at most two. People need to communicate and they're pretty good at figuring out how. In any locality there is a strong tendency to end up with the same language because of the need to communicate. Making it a law is at best redundant and at worst economically damaging if you take it to the extreme's Quebec has. The US doesn't have an official language because it doesn't need one. Neither does Canada really and I've spent enough of my life in Canada to know.

        The US is spending many billions of dollar trying to make every in every language.

        Nonsen

    • ...and then you defend it. Whaddya mean, "if the Quebec based store is maintaining a website, it needs to have a french translation"? So . . . if I create a website which I intend to be read in Berlin, or Pamplona, or Rome . . . it still has to be in French?

      Never mind the argument . . . I give up.

    • by Zeromous (668365)

      The data and "storefront" resides on US soil.

  • Typical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kimomaru (2579489) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:28PM (#46358447)
    Quebec has some bizarre sensibilities, they're definitely not into this whole people-can-decide-what's-best-for-themselves crap. If you think that's bad, you should see their tax rate - believe it or not, taxes go to supporting these bizarre laws. Anyone under the age of 30 who wants to make a life for themselves, in my oppinion, should live anywhere else in Canada.
  • by JcMorin (930466) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:29PM (#46358453)
    I live in Québec and because of those law I can't purchase product from the local store because the box is not en French. It happend to me last year where I purchase some headphone (nothing fancy there were even NO paper in the box to explain how to plug it). But since the box wasn't available in French, Best-buy would not have the product, online I could see it but they would refuse to sell it to me if my address was in Québec. So I've went to competitor in Vancouver that is not affected by Québec law and purchase it. Result? The law has remove a sale from my local store and move that else where.
  • by mrbene (1380531) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:33PM (#46358517)

    In the late 90s, I worked at an internet software company in Quebec - we developed software for servers and sold it over the internet. No boxed copies, but your standard suite of services - a knowledge base, online documentation, phone and email access to sales and support staff, all of which was based in the province of Quebec.

    Eventually, we got big enough to be noticed by the Quebec language police. They sent a letter, and then there were phone calls. They provided us with a list of requirements - you must answer your phones in French first, your web site must have all content that is available in English available in French as well, and so on.

    We started costing out the implications of this, especially the confusion of the majority of our international (as in, American) clients. Then someone asked the important question - what happens if we don't comply?

    "Well, you won't be allowed to sell to anyone in Quebec!" came the indignant response.

    From then on, I took so much pleasure in informing the our small number of Quebec government clients that no, they would no longer be able to buy upgrades, tech support contracts, or anything else. The 98% of our out-of-province sales were unaffected.

    Unfortunately, it sounds like Eva runs a brick-and-mortar store, so will need to comply or face actual fines.

  • by Karl Cocknozzle (514413) <kcocknozzle@hotma i l . com> on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:35PM (#46358535) Homepage

    Why not translate it into a useful language, like Klingon?

  • The Chrome browser offers to translate whatever website's text into whichever language my operating system defaults to.

    If all of the common web browsers / smart phones / google glass equivalents start doing this, I guess there will be no more need for this mandatory translation at the source side of things.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      Auto translators do not translate text displayed in a graphic.

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          Good for you if you want to read a computer screen by taking pictures of it with an iPhone. Those translators are not perfect. So browser auto translator + iPhone + app + figuring out when app screws up. That sounds like a kludge to me.

      • by Arker (91948)
        "Auto translators do not translate text displayed in a graphic."

        Text displayed in a graphic are only permissible as an alternative the browser may choose to display. The actual text representation must ALWAYS be included using the MANDATORY 'alt' tag. It is never permissible to make assumptions about the capabilities of the user agent, which may or may not have any effective way of displaying graphics. Widespread tolerance for scofflaws on this issue is the single largest source of suck on the internet toda
    • by tgv (254536)

      You're omitting the other if: if the translation is good enough.

  • Canada is a democracy. They make their own laws and govern themselves. It is none of my business as an American what they decide to do inside their own borders any more than it's my business what happens in the privacy of my neighbor own home as long as it stays inside their home. Privacy, mmmmkay?
    • by tgv (254536)

      If you kill someone in your house, is that none of anyone's business?

  • by Zeromous (668365) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:54PM (#46358855) Homepage

    Facebook is an American storefront, not a Quebec one. I did not read the article but this seems very wrong indeed.

  • "Au Canada, la province de Québec a sa Loi sur les langues officielles de 1974 (aka projet de loi 22) qui fait du français la seule langue officielle. Elle a notoirement été utilisé pour forcer les propriétaires d'entreprises à modifier la signalisation de donner pré-eminance français sur les autres langues. maintenant, la police de la langue du Québec semblent être d'étendre leur portée à Facebook Eva Cooper possède Delilah dans le
  • by barlevg (2111272) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:58PM (#46358923)
  • Too many people equate "The Law" with morality and consider it a forgone conclusion that whatever "The Law" states must be adhered to, and if violated must be enforced at all costs. Unfortunately there exist just too many unjust, absurd, horrific, ridiculous, and outdated laws such as, Jim Crow, Apartheid, FATCA, the Patriot Act, FATCA, the Nuremberg Laws, .....compulsory TV licensing *even if you don't have a TV*.... Most people who are negatively affected by such laws are usually met with derision and m
  • by Fusione (980444) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:20PM (#46359285)
    I'm a born and raised anglophone Quebecker. This is an issue I've faced (yes, faced) my whole life. There is a great deal of prejudice and discrimination against anglophones in Quebec, both socially and legislatively. Two applicants to the same job, both perfectly bilingual, one Francophone, one Anglophone, most times the Francophone gets the job. I've had people pick fights with me in bars, because I was speaking English with my friends privately. If you didn't attend English school as a child, you can't send your children to English school. I've gotten attitude from merchants for using the wrong conjugation or gender. The language issues touch every aspect of life here and truly divides Quebec. I've been against these discriminatory laws my whole life. In spite of all this, recently, after the last federal election, I'm starting to get it. Quebec is different than other provinces. The things we care about are different than the general population of North America. We believe in free health care and education for all. Not as a concept, but to the core of our being. It's ironic that we care so much for everyone, but lose sight of it over something as trivial as language. Francophone Quebec is afraid that we're going to lose these differences, this identity by way of dilution of the language. This is where the animosity comes from. It's rooted in fear, not in hatred. The fear of losing the language is justified and real. French is fading and being mixed against the cultural influence of English media. In 50 years, it will be the second language in Quebec. The fact is, today it's a French province with clear laws that signage and publicity must be in French first, and in English second. This said, the language police are overly aggressive and make silly moves like this pretty often.. and unfortunately it undermines Quebec and the social issues it faces. It makes us seem silly and petty to the rest of the world. If you live here, after things like this you have a harsh taste in your throat once you're done rolling your eyes. It is getting better. The next generation understands the world better than the previous generation, and things continue to improve.
  • have over the content of a web page not hosted on a Canadian server?

    ``She received a letter from the language office telling her to translate everything posted on her store's Facebook page into French.''

    Or else what? Are they going to revoke her business license?

  • Time to run all the acronyms, idioms, and misspellings through Google Translate. That will make the language police happy I'm sure.

    By the way, WE NEED THIS LAW in the southern US!
  • to please send the letter in French
  • Actually it's Bill 101 that is the cause of all this. Basically, Bill 101: french must be everywhere and people who don't speak french aren't people. (disclaimer: I'm french canadian, it's my native language. and I had to learn english on my own starting 16 years ago.)
  • Fuck le police.

  • Quebec's irrational ide'e fixe reaches to Southern California and Mexico as well.

    Many products in local stores have packaging printed in two languages- French & English. In my American city we have roughly 10,000 Spanish speakers for every French speaker. In Tijuana the imbalance is more extreme.

    The language police have a long reach.

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