catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Should we strive toward a National Culture?


Dec 04 2002
05:33 pm

Bridget I hope this doesn’t distract from your main point but I thought I should clarify the Quebec laws a bit for everyone.

The original sign law in Quebec (Bill 101) required that all commercial and road signs be in French only. No English, Chinese, Spanish, nothing. The culture police were literally prowling around the city looking for non-compliers. In the early 1990s the law was amended to allow the limited use of languages other than French on commerical signs.

Bill 101 also limited access to English schools. Between 1976 and 1990 levels of enrolment in English schools dropped 50%. The sharp decline forced the closure of 200 of these schools.

In 1977, when Bill 101 was introduced, 82% of all written communication in Quebec was in English. Under Bill 101, all companies operating in Quebec with fifty or more employees are required to function in French.

California is a different case. If nothing were done, it would probably be mostly Spanish speaking in a few decades, which is fine by me, but scary for people who like things to stay the way they are. If you want California to stay predominantly English speaking, you’ve got to suppress all types of Spanish influences, though I don’t what the threat is from bilingual education? Places like the Netherlands have quart-lingual education and still manage to hang onto their Dutch language and culture. But bilingual education is something I don’t know much about so I’ll let Bridget do the talking. I don’t have a particular point to make here anyway. Thanks for listening.