Thursday, January 04, 2007

Esso uses English trademark, world ends

Esso is re-naming all their gaz station convenience stores in Quebec using the name "On the Run". The first store to get the English name is on Rockland Rd. in TMR.

According to CTV News, the taxpayer-funded Quebec language office (OQLF) has received a dozen complaints about the name of the store, which opened only a few weeks ago.

According to Quebec's restrictive language laws, French must be twice the size of English on commercial signs -- unless the sign has a trademark, like McDonald's, Canadian Tire, or On the Run.

CTV reports that
[a]lthough the OLF can't take any legal action against Esso, it still plans to pressure the company to reconsider its decision. If Esso doesn't back down, the OLF says it will face a backlash from French consumers and that would be bad for business.
I like the veiled threat. "Hey, if we can't fine you, and we can't convince you nicely, there will be a 'backlash'. Hey, we're not saying we're going to start the backlash. We've just giving some friendly advice. Capish?"

Maybe I'm being too harsh on the Quebec government funded language police. After all, OQLF spokesperson Gerald Paquette is quite reasonable when he says: "If you want to keep your English expressions, why not add a French version?"

This is, indeed, a pretty reasonable position. So, I challenge the OQLF to extend that same reasonableness in the other direction. When their language inspectors see a French-only commercial sign, it should say to the owner, "You can keep your French expression, but why not add an English one too?"


Anonymous said...

Daryl, why do you use such hyperbole? "World ends"? There were all of a dozen complaints. "Censorship"? No legal action was taken at all. "Veiled threat"? That Esso might insult some of its customers.

And being insulted would hardly be unreasonable if you were francophone, given that the biggest oil company in this (supposedly bilingual) country feels that the best way to run a national ad campaign is to do it in English only. It's exactly the sort of thing you complain about on this blog, when the shoe is on the other foot.

So if you want to make a point, tone down the rhetoric. If you think that some of Quebec legislation is bad or unreasonable, then make your point, but don't cry foul about a dozen people making a perfectly reasonable complaint, or about the Quebec government NOT taking any enforcement action. Otherwise, you are simply doing what you are accusing others of doing: making a big deal out of nothing.

Ian said...

So much for that...

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