Englsih and Francais in Montreal?


sw
#1
HI
I visited Montreal last month and the language thing confuses me a bit. I heard both languages being spokeen in the streets but Montreal is a french city.

I have been watching the news and I see that everybody is speaking english in Montreal. Can all the anglos speak french? It seems like most francophones speak english. Can you live in Monreal without knowing french?How do the two languages co exist?
 
Machjo
#2
I'd lived in Montreal for a couple of years, and from my experience it's mostly political. Most French speakers can speak English, and most English speakers can speak French. Although there are still alot of exceptions on both sides.

The issue primarily revolves around economics. If English predominates, then any French speaker who can't speak English is out of a job (that's what happenned in the 1960's, which triggered support for bill 101), and if English becomes overly marginalised, then English speakers are out of a job. As it stand now with bilingualism, however, pretty well anyone who isn't bilingual is out fo a job unless he's got some speacial skills or is willing to wash dishes. That was the reality five years ago when I was there. I could get a good job due to my trilingualism. But needless to say now monolinguals, be they English or French speaking, must really be finding it hard there.

So with so much at stake for both groups and their future, it's understandable the language issue should become so politicised over there.
 
jimmoyer
#3
How big is the Chinese community in Montreal ???
I've met several cantonese who lived in that city.
 
Machjo
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by jimmoyer

How big is the Chinese community in Montreal ???
I've met several cantonese who lived in that city.

From what I remember, the Chinese community in the province of Quebec pales in comparison to those of other Canadian provinces. One reason being, I suspect, their inability to function in a French-speaking environment, but for a few. Practically all Chinese learn English, not French, in school.
 
shannon
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by sw

HI
I visited Montreal last month and the language thing confuses me a bit. I heard both languages being spokeen in the streets but Montreal is a french city.

I have been watching the news and I see that everybody is speaking english in Montreal. Can all the anglos speak french? It seems like most francophones speak english. Can you live in Monreal without knowing french?How do the two languages co exist?

Montreal is a mutli ethnic dual cultured city, not soley French. The English community has been long established within the city. We have our institutions (Universities, Hospitals ...etc) just as the French community has theirs.

As for the confusion over the language thing, depends on where you are within the city. If you venture out east, you'll hear mainly French within the streets, if you venture out west, you'll hear mainly English. If you head in between (downtown), you'll hear both English and French.

As for your question, can all the anglos speak French, the answer is no. Those of us (myself included) who have been educated soley in English before we had the option of attending a French emersion English school, cannot speak French effectively. Therefore many of us English speakers cannot converse in French. So yes, if you live in the west part of the city (West Island or West End), you can indeed live in Montreal without knowing French. Actually, it's pretty darn near hard to live in that area if you can't speak English. You'd have a hard time communicating with some of the neighbors.

As to your other question, can most of the French speakers speak English, based on my experience, the answer is yes. Most of the native Quebec born French speakers can indeed speak English.
 
ledanz
#6
I'm originally from Montreal and I think in terms of language (as well as other things) anything goes in that city. You still have unilingual Anglos and Francophones, especially in parts of the city where either English or French are more spoken, typically the West of the island (Montreal is an island) for English and East of it for French but I would say that among young people it's getting rarer to find unilingual ones unless there are stubbornly anti-French or anti-English or have some kind of learning disability or social dysfunction.

Job wise, it depends what you do. If you work for the city or the provincial government or a place that is under provincial jurisdiction like health and education, then French is the spoken language (exceptions are individual institutions themselves like English schools or hospitals or social services that cater to the English speaking community). If you work for a big company or in retail, then you will have to use both languages depending of the situations. In the arts or non for profit organisations, in most cases you will only need one language and again it may depend to who the organisation caters to.

So Shannon's statement that "most native Quebec born French speakers can speak English" and that not all anglos speak French, although not false needs to be nuanced. One shouldn't assume that they can just come to the city and expect English everywhere and everytime, this is this kind of attitude that infuriates Francophones, those whose speak English as well as those who don't, as well as a number of Anglophones I may add.

And yes, it is possible to live only in French or only in English in Montreal but you end up missing out on a lot the city has to offer and in certain social situations and interactions you may feel left out.
 
shannon
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by ledanz

but I would say that among young people it's getting rarer to find unilingual ones unless there are stubbornly anti-French or anti-English or have some kind of learning disability or social dysfunction.

That's partly true, but not entirely. There are still lots of kids in Montreal that attend English schools without taking any French immersion classes. Many parents feel (I included) that it's best to learn English first as we are living in North America where English clearly dominates. Without attending French school or taking the French immersion classes, how are these kids supposed to learn French?

For many of these kids, taking French classes on the side once they've mastered English is out of the question, unless the classes are free of course. Why should a native born citizen in this country be forced to pay for classes that are offered free to immigrants? It makes no sense.
 
Machjo
#8
Also, many of those I'd met who didn't know English or French were from out of town. Either from Englsih Canada, deeper into French Quebec, or from abroad.
 
EternalSunshine
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by ledanz

And yes, it is possible to live only in French or only in English in Montreal but you end up missing out on a lot the city has to offer and in certain social situations and interactions you may feel left out.

Well said.

My kids are in an English elementary school, bilingual program, which means that, starting in kindergarten, half instruction is in English and other half in French. Most kids come to school speaking only one language well (very rarely they're equally comfortable in both) but in time they catch up really well with their second language.
 

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