The following letter appeared in both the Free Press and the Montreal Gazette in response to a drive by members of the Côte St. Luc city council to try to get road signs to be bilingual in Quebec.
I wonder if the Côte St. Luc city council doesn’t misunderstand its mandate. I grew up in and live in NDG but work in CSL and went to high school there, so I know the community well.
While there may be an interest by some in the community to fight the old battles of the 1970s-90s about the language of signs – a battle they are clearly not going to win – I strongly believe the new generation of CSLers has more important battles to fight.
Let’s dedicate energy to making sure our kids are so fluently bilingual that the language of a sign isn’t important and they can have opportunities to thrive in Quebec. Those battles are over and the next generation, those of us who grew up speaking both languages fluently, is raising children who will benefit from being totally bilingual and who will have no interest in the language of a sign because it doesn’t matter anymore.
Those families who stayed have proven we can survive and thrive in Montreal and in Quebec regardless of whether the “allumez vos phares” sign has a translation or not. As for the tourist argument, year over year, tourism only increases – partly because our French-first reality makes us special.
There is no need to translate the small amount of road signs that might be hard to understand not only for that reason, but also for the simple fact that with the near-ubiquitous usage of smartphones and navigation systems, we barely need any words on our signs at all – just the names of streets and the numbers of highway exits.
This whole issue is an antiquated argument being fought by a generation that can’t accept the reality that while it won the battle against separatism (twice), it lost the battle on language.
It’s time to embrace reality and move on, ensemble.