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Saturday, June 08, 2013 1:04 PM

Emails From French and Canadian Readers on "Preserving Culture" and the "Language Police"

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I received still more emails from French and Canadian readers on preserving culture. Since it's a slow news day, let's take a look at them.

Olivier writes "Wouldn't a true conservative pay at least some respect to local cultural norms instead of trying to impose some economic diktat from on down?"

Talk about getting things ass backwards. It is the social police attempting to impose cultural and economic diktats to preserve the local bookstore and the local farm to the point of absolute absurdity.

Email From Canada

Reader Mike from Canada writes ...

Hi Mish,

I totally agree with the ridiculousness of bureaucrats and their attempts "to preserve" culture.  The very meaning of the verb "to preserve" implies that the object being preserved is dead.  One preserves fruits after they are picked, and bodies after they are dead.  One cannot preserve a living thing.

A culture must continually adapt and grow to keep living, not be preserved.

I live in the province of Quebec, and unfortunately I can provide numerous examples on the government's inane attempts to preserve local French culture.  Recently, the Quebec Language police made headlines when they tried to outlaw the use of the word "pasta" in Italian restaurants because it is not a French word.  After the international hilarity that ensued and embarrassed them, the nannycrats backed down.

A great example of tax dollars being wasted.

Thanks for your posts,

Mike B

Language Police

The above story sounds preposterous but is true. Please consider Is 'pasta' French enough for Quebec?
Quebec's language watchdog is backtracking after demanding a chic Montreal Italian restaurant change its menu because Italian words such as "pasta" were too predominant.

Massimo Lecas, owner of Buonanotte said he was contacted by the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) on Valentine's Day.

He said he was told the menu contains too much Italian.

He said he was also instructed to translate the Italian words for meatball and calamari into French, even though the descriptions for each of those menu items are already in French.

Earlier in the day, Martin Bergeron, a spokesman for the OQLF, said the language watchdog is not splitting hairs.

While he said he cannot discuss the specifics of the case, Bergeron said the law is clear.

"Other languages can be on the menu," he said. "The thing is they must not be predominant over French."

Battle over fish and chips

Brit & Chips, a fish and chip restaurant in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood, also received a letter asking it to comply with the language police's guidelines.

The OQLF demanded that the owner, Toby Lyle, add the word "restaurant" predominantly above the eatery's name.

Lyle said he takes issue with the OQLF's order to translate the restaurant's main dish to "poisson frit et frites."

He said removing "fish and chips" from the window will push customers away.
Collision Course

Unfortunately it's not just France that suffers from such stupidity, it is all of Europe. Every year France blocks changes in agricultural subsidies that exist solely to prop up inefficient French farms. As a result everyone in Europe pays higher prices for produce and other farm goods.

Tariffs raise costs and restrain trade. Problems do not stop with agriculture and restaurants.

Inane work rules also designed to "preserve the French way of life" have put France and Germany are on a collision course over numerous issues including heated exchanges regarding productivity and trade with China.

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Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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