Rene Bourque, right, is one of Canada’s Olympic hockey players who has a name that looks French but who himself, pronounces it in an English way. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press/Feb. 18, 2018)

Outrage in Canada over pronunciation of names at Olympics

Share

The uproar over the pronunciation of the names of some of Canada’s hockey players at the Olympics speaks volumes about English French language tensions in this country. High-level politicians expressed outrage that a play-by-play announcer was told that some of the names which are written in French should be pronounced in English.

What?

In order to understand this, one has to know that last century there was deep fear in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec that the language would be lost in the surrounding sea of English-speakers. In 1976, a nationalist political party was elected in the province which went on to pass a strict and controversial law to protect the language. (This government went on to advocate for the separation of the province from Canada and lost two referendums on the issue, one of them, by a hair.)

Language is a sensitive issue

So, there is great sensitivity on the language issue. (Officially, Canada is bilingual. Services and documents are made available in English and French and there is a special commissioner dedicated to protecting and promoting the use of both languages.)

Then, one also has to understand  that there are many people in Canada and in the United States who have roots in Quebec but have since moved away. Often they have French names but, because they live in an English-speaking environment, the names have come to be pronounced in an English way.

Say it how the player himself says it, says Hockey Canada

In this case, the governing body, Hockey Canada told the French-speaking announcer at the Pyeongchang Olympics to pronounce the names of three hockey players in the English way. The players were Derek Roy, Rene Bourque and Marc-Andre Gragnani.  The reason it gave was that the names should be pronounced in the way the players say it themselves.

The premier of the province of Quebec, Philippe Couillard called the request that certain hockey players’ names be pronounced in English ‘deplorable.’(Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press/file)

‘Deplorable’…‘ridiculous’…‘insulting’

The premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard called the directive “deplorable” and “ridiculous” and that “as francophones, we need to object to this and to protest this strongly.”

An elected representative of the nationalist opposition party, Parti Quebecois MNa Pascal Berube, said “It’s insulting. It’s a lack of respect. Especially as French is an official language at the Olympics.”

At the federal government level, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said she was “extremely surprised” and that her office was “on the file” and would work with the sports minister to get Hockey Canada to change its policy.

A peaceful country, mostly

I am willing to bet that most Canadians are rolling their eyes and some may be grateful that it’s a peaceful country with no greater horrors topping the news here today.

Share
Categories: Society
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

2 comments on “Outrage in Canada over pronunciation of names at Olympics
  1. Avatar doug says:

    I see your point but this draws some parallels to the recent discussion about the c16 bill in Canada.. you shouldn’t be told what to say by any higher power.

    One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish a dictatorship. -George Orwell

  2. Avatar ursula wagner says:

    O my goodness, what a terrible catastropy!

    Some people don`t seem to have real problems.