Thursday, July 13, 2006

So much for their spine...

After a publicized municpal resolution to tell the Quebec Censorship Board (tm) they would not replace their current signs with French-only ones, the Beaconsfield council has now announced that any new signs that need replacing will carry French-only designation, such as "rue Church". According to The Suburban:

At Monday night’s Beaconsfield council meeting, the city passed a unanimous resolution saying it would not change existing street signs. However, new streets, or signs that must be replaced, will be unilingual French.

The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has asked in the past that Beaconsfield change street names like Maple and Elm to Érable and Orme. Benedetti said the city won’t do that and added that the only signs that it will change are the ones that need replacing.
Is there something in the water that is making some mayors lose their mind? Once again, let me repeat:

Towns with bilingual status are permitted to post bilingual street signs.

According to the law, the French designation on the sign must be "predominant" -- but not "markedly predominant".

The missing word may seem trivial. But in law, every words counts. Therefore, a few points are clear:

(1) The Quebec government has set a legal precedent through its commercial sign law in which it associated the term "marked predominance" with the rule that French must be twice the size of English.

(2) The law on street signs does not include the word "marked".

(3) That omission suggests that the rule on street signs is less strict than the rule on commercial signs.

(4) Therefore, French "predominance" must mean something less than "twice as big" and it is entirely plausible that "predominance" means, simply, that the French must be on the left or on top -- but not twice as big.

This was confirmed by Cote St. Luc mayor (and lawyer) Anthony Housefather who said that bilingual street signs are:
"perfectly legal under Section 24 of the French Language Charter (Bill 101), which says that billingual municipalities can erect signs in both languages. The French being predominant in municipal signs is not the market predominance that [is required] in commercial signs where the French has to be bigger."
It's sad that our laws are so confusing that only lawyers are able to figure out what's allowed and what's not and the rest of us are left scratching our heads and playing along with the bullies at the Quebec Censorship Board (tm).


michael brass said...

uh, predominent?

crammer said...

If it's not one far-off ivory-towered bureaucracy meddling with our street signs it's another.
About 10 or 15 years ago this "conseil de toponymie" or whatever decided that they didn't like the way already-French street signs were capitalized.
For example: (rue) De l'Eglise
had to become: (rue de l') Eglise
(note: parentheses indicate the tiny print at the top of the sign).
Of course, the ever-polite former-ville-st-laurent city council responded with a three-bags-full-sir campaign to update all the existing signs. So, if you lived at say, "123 De l'Eglise" you had to change it to either "123, rue de l'Eglise" or "123 Eglise."
If it wasn't for the fact that the street was named from the three churches it has along its short run, how would we know it wasn't named after some guy (or girl) named De L'Eglise?

Man, I miss that crazy shit. Thanks Darryl for keeping me informed!

michael brass said...

I think it's time to start up a soylent green factory and harvest these sign nazis.

Patrice said...

I'm sure John Miller is behind all this.