Canada’s National Post newspaper, a staunchly federalist (aka. “Unionist”) publication, carries a typically angry tirade by the writer and presenter Dan Delmar against laws in his home territory of Québec promoting equality between Francophone and Anglophone citizens. Delmar argues that such regulations are needlessly onerous and that:
“…sympathetic allies in media are all too willing to indulge arguments that have been, and continue to be, rooted in ethnocentrism over science.
There is little, if any, definitive evidence available to suggest that linguistic minorities learn and adopt a language more effectively when it is displayed with “marked predominance,”…
No demographer studying Quebec has proven, to my knowledge, that “predominant” French signage or marketing content noticeably increased the use of the language among non-Francophones.”
All of which is highly debatable, to say the least. Hence the author’s use of the get-out-of-jail clause, “to my knowledge”; a caveat which can cover a multitude of rhetorical sins. There is in fact a wealth of evidence proving that bilingual signage and documentation in both the public and private sectors greatly aids the acceptance and dissemination of minority languages. Or for that matter, majority ones too. Common sense alone tells us that if non-Francophone minorities are regularly exposed to the French language in their daily lives they will eventually become familiar with it. Which is of course what happens in predominantly English-speaking societies with non-English-speaking minorities. Delmar’s arguments are flawed from the get-go since he engages in a tactic he accuses others of employing: shaping and siphoning the facts to suit a desired ideological outcome. An outcome that is simply a more sophisticated and carefully couched version of the old Anglophone admonition to Francophones in Québec: “Speak White!“