Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's the point of being bilingual?

What’s the point of being bilingual if you’re going to act like this jerk?

A federal civil servant from Quebec runs a red light in Ottawa and gets pulled over by the cops – or more specifically, a cop. So far, nothing unusual there, happens all the time. The problem is that the officer only speaks English, and the civil servant, who is fluently bilingual, refuses to talk to him in English and insists on being addressed in French only. Because there are no bilingual officers just sitting around waiting for this bozo to make a fuss (they are otherwise occupied with important police business) it takes 40 minutes for a French-speaking officer to arrive on the scene. So what does numbnuts do next? He files a complaint with the Ottawa police force.

Okay folks, we’re talking about a traffic ticket here. It doesn’t take a Master’s degree in English to understand that you’re getting a ticket for running a red light. I also know that, although I am not fluently bilingual, I would have no difficulty understanding a unilingual French-speaking Quebec police officer should a similar situation ever occur to me in La Belle Province.

In a perfect world everyone in Canada would be bilingual (or better yet, multilingual), but that’s no more likely to happen in Ottawa than it is in Jonquiere. So the normal folks among us use our varying degrees of knowledge and understanding of each other’s language to communicate and get along. That’s what it’s all about, not tilting at windmills like some delusional Don Quixote just to get your picture in the paper.


Anonymous said...

Intelligent use of the net shown by the Ottawa Sun. Your link leads to a page that says:

"The story you are searching for is no longer available on Ottawasun.com, but is available in its entirety via email, fax or mail for $12.00 (plus GST), payable with credit card (include expiry date).
If you have been directed to this page via a search engine or link from outside the Canoe/Sun network, we apologize for the inconvenience, but we cannot control whether outside agencies or service providers keep their links up to date. Stories and other content on Ottawasun.com are not archived online.

Should you wish to obtain a copy of this item, contact the Sun Media News Research Centre at 416-947-2258 or toll free at 1-877-624-1463 with information about the story and supply the following:

Name of credit card, number and expiry date on card
Your name, mailing address and phone number (we will mail or fax you a receipt).
E-mail address or fax number.

Cheques or money orders can be mailed with your request to:"

Perhaps they think they are being entrepreneurial.

Canajun said...

Sorry about that.
Believe me, this story isn't worth $12, so here's an alternate link to the CBC's version: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2008/01/14/ot-french-police-080114.html?ref=rss
(Hopefully they won't be quite as quick to remove it.)