Bonjour or Hi?

by alexlabrosse on December 3, 2017 - 9:21pm

The debate on language has been on going in Quebec forever. For some reason, we can’t come to a conclusion that choice of language, shouldn’t be offensive in any way. But lately, the court/government hasn’t been very compassionate when asked if there could be more than one main language. In Quebec, the answer is always French. Not only have they removed all English from any title of stores or signs, etc. Now, they are telling us the way we should greet people. No more “Bonjour, Hi!” but simply “Bonjour”. The PQ expressed that “too many people are speaking both French and English to customers and notes that "bonjour" is one of the most recognized words in the French language.” The reasoning behind the formation of the laws is easy to understand. Quebec is paranoid they will eventually lose the French language, and they’re trying to preserve it.


“In 2012, Quebec's language watchdog found that French-only greetings in Montreal had declined to 74 per cent from 89 per cent since 2010. Over the same period, bilingual greetings rose to 13 per cent from one per cent, it added.” In this quote, we see this exactly. They are simply trying to keep French as Quebec’s main language. I believe Quebec would be a much happier place is we lost all the frustration and arguments having to do with language. An interesting thought by Caroline Harper was brought up, saying the way we greet and interact with the retailers, gets the customers to come back and builds relationships. Greeting a customer in both languages simply promotes smart business. Personally, I believe we should focus on bigger problems than language in Quebec. But here, unlike most other places, we take a very large amount of pride in our official language (French). Premier Philippe Couillard admittedly said this debate is ridiculous, but the proceeded to say he prefers a French only greeting.  There are two sides, people who think bilingualism is a great part of Quebec’s culture, and then there’s the group who want a francophone only society. This is demonstrated in the quote by the PQ’s Berube, stating “It’s about being original and being ourselves, and being ourselves is a major francophone city with an Anglophone community.” Why not find a split between both? Does removing all other languages from Quebec sound like a solution to a better society to you?


Your news summary really sparked my interest because using French language is a subject that many of my friends are very passionate about, and it is also very well written.

Although I do understand and agree that there are far more important issues to be discussed, I believe it is important to state our opinion in the matter. While some of my friends are all in favor of a francophone only society, I do think that it is important to use both languages when greeting customers, especially when in a bilingual city such as Montreal. Working in customer service myself, I think it's important to greet people in the language they are most familiar with, and although I encounter far more francophone people than anglophones, I always adapt my customer service to their language because I personally would find it disrespectful to serve an english customer in french just because our province is mainly francophone.

Do you believe that customers should make an effort to speak french when going into a store, or should the employee be the one to adapt himself to the client's language?

About the author