Friday, February 22, 2013
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday, February 22, 2013
For Quebec’s language police, even “pasta” is a problem
Mamma mia! The mangacakes in Quebec have got their voyageur sashes all in a knot over a little Italian on the dinner menu. After targeting the language of Shakespeare, the province’s language police –aka “tongue troopers”— decided to set their sights on Dante, of all people.
They wanted to come down hard on Buonanotte, the trendy Italian ristorante in Montreal frequented by the likes of Céline Dion and Leonardo DiCaprio. It features a menu that prominently advertises such classic dishes as pasta, pesce, antipasti, calamari, and insalata caprese, with explanations in French underneath. “My menu is fully French,” says owner Massimo Lecas. “It’s not even bilingual.” Even so, the prominent Italian offerings proved to be a little too piccante for the tongue troopers’ taste.
They were prepared to turn a blind eye to pizza, but not to polpette. They ordered the meatballs rebranded as boulettes de viande. And no more uncorking a bottiglia of wine, s’il vous plaît. It’s to be bouteille from now on. And pasta? That would be pâtes alimentaires.
All this cretineria, courtesy of the Office québécois de la langue française, the province’s language watchdog, makes the Parti Québécois government look like a bunch of peevish country hicks. And not for the first time. Remember Mendy Berson, the Jewish gravestone maker who got into trouble for having the Hebrew word for “monument” on his otherwise French/English sign? Or the campaign to stamp out the wall menus in Chinese restaurants because they were written in, well, Chinese? (Source: Toronto Star)