Bonjour or Bonjour/Hi?
by Brianna on December 3, 2017 - 5:54pm
A few weeks ago, the Quebec legislature created a motion that all store clerks must only address customers with "bonjour" instead of "bonjour/hi" which is heard most often in Montreal. The Parti Quebecois argues that far too many store clerks are speaking both French and English to their customers and also points out that "bonjour" is the most perceived word in the French language. The motion originally described the phrase, “bonjour/hi” as being aggravating but Phillipe Couillard believed that phrasing it like that would cause issues between the French and English-speaking communities in Quebec which lead them to rephrase their motion. The house leader of the Parti Quebecois, Pascal Berube, believes that only saying "bonjour" to customers is the right thing to do as "It's about being original and being ourselves, and being ourselves is a major francophone city with an Anglophone community,". Phillipe Couillard stated that although the debate was absurd he also agrees with being greeted by store clerks and store owners in French only. Lioudmila Zoueva, a flower shop owner, feels more comfortable addressing her customers in French not only because speaking English makes her feel uncomfortable but also because saying “Bonjour/hi” is annoying and stupid since “bonjour” is universal and everyone should understand it. On the other hand, many store owners disagree with this motion as it can make customers who do not speak French feel uncomfortable and threatened. Store owner Mokathar speaks multiple languages such as English, French, Greek, Arabic and Urdu, and therefore does not agree with the motion as Canada is a multi-language and multi-cultural society. This motion is also causing store owners to struggle because if they are not doing everything they can in order to make people especially tourist feel more comfortable by addressing them in another language besides French then they can lose both their potential customers and sales. The leader of Quebec’s main English speaking advocacy group, James Shea, states that saying both Bonjour and hi to customers is a sign of acceptance towards the English- speaking community in Quebec. I believe that store clerks and store owners should continue to address their customers in both French and English because although Quebec is primarily French, there are members of the English community present and also English is the second most spoken language in the world. Therefore, “hi” would be more recognized than “bonjour” when it comes to tourist visiting Quebec who do not come from French-speaking countries. It is important for Quebec to have pride in itself as not only French but also as being English. By having this motion set in place, it is a sign of Quebec not showing itself as being open and accepting of other languages besides its own.
Do you think that store clerks and owners should be allowed to address their customers with Bonjour/Hi instead of just bonjour?
Lowrie, Morgan. “Don't Say 'Hi': Quebec Passes Motion for French-Only Shop Greeting.” CTVNews, 30 Nov. 2017, www.ctvnews.ca/canada/don-t-say-hi-quebec-passes-motion-for-french-only-....