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January 31, 2007


From what I gather, when the study states that French is "the language in which customers were served about 90 per cent of the time," they are not referring to all customers --- they mean that francophone customers are served in French about 90 percent of the time.

In any case, I'm not sure how much those numbers really mean. The study included everything in the Ville-Marie borough from Fort Street in the west to Papineau Street in the east, which includes many distinct neighbourhoods, including some linguistic extremes. It doesn't make much sense to lump the Latin Quarter (extremely francophone) in with Chinatown (not francophone at all) and the downtown west end (extremely anglophone). The only thing these three areas have in common is that they are "downtown."

For the most part, the predominance of English in downtown Montreal is well-rooted in history. Even today, only about 1/3 of downtown residents are francophone, there are two large English universities totalling 60,000 students and most of the tourists who spend time in the area speak English.

For those reasons downtown Montreal has symbolic importance for nationalists. Personally, I have no problem with sensitizing downtown business owners to the importance of serving francophones in their own language, but I really resent it when lingustic extremists like Jean Dorion (head of the SSJB) imply that English simply should not be spoken downtown (as he did in an op-ed in La Presse last year, writing---and I paraphrase---that the west end of downtown is "too anglicized" and "that needs to change").

I should specify that when I state that only 1/3 of downtown residents are francophone, I am referring specifically to the municipal electoral district of Peter McGill, which includes the downtown west end, central business district, Chinatown and part of Old Montreal, but *not* anything west of St. Laurent.

And by west I mean east.

I should go to sleep.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.