Saturday, July 29, 2006


Quebec agency offended by “Outgames”

Not by the existence of the event, a sort of gay and lesbian Olympics, but by the fact that organizers didn’t bother to give the name "Outgames" a French translation.

People unfamiliar with Quebec society might think I am making this up.

I am not.

Social values here are among the most liberal in North America, with the pendulum still swinging leftwards after the oppression of the days when the Church ran French society here. In fact, it was only in 1998 that school boards reorganized themselves along linguistic lines (French / English) rather than denominational ones (Catholic / Protestant, with each having French and English sections. A jurisdictional nightmare.)

So for Montreal to host the First World Outgames,

the largest and most magnificent gathering of gays, lesbians, bisexuals,transvestites,transsexuals and heterosexuals coming together in a festive spirit of celebration in North America's City of Festivals

is almost a no-brainer.

However “out” and “games” are English words, and the website of the OFFICE DE LA LANGUE FRANCAISE (aka Language Police, and other names too nasty to repeat) has put out a special little popup section bemoaning the lack of a French translation for the name.

What it says is, it’s a shame that there is no French equivalent for the word "Outgames", especially since the event is held in Montreal, a French-speaking city. They hope that this will be remedied in time for the next Outgames, in Denmark in 2009.
For now, why not call the games “Rendez-vous Montreal 2006” (Get-together Montreal 2006) which it is called on the French version of the official website?
This would be much more sensitive to the feelings of the French-speaking citizens who host the games and would also reflect the open spirit of this important occasion.

Okay, first of all, on the French section of the website they do call it “Outgames”.
Second, is there just something a little bit wrong with a society that is SO inclusive it doesn’t bat an eyelash at gay parades, gay marriage, gay olympics, but thinks it has the right to legislate what language is spoken?

Of course this is nothing new here. The OFFICE DE LA LANGUE FRANCAISE has been the agency we (English Quebecers) love to hate for the past 30 years. It has brought us such abominations as

manche a balai (joystick)
feux d’artifice (fireworks)
pommes de terre frites (french fries)
oiselet (birdie, in golf)

They even tried to muck with the internet, way back in the day, as evidenced by this page from Electronic Frontier Canada. a rights and freedoms watchdog group.

Its “tongue troopers” can be seen, (and were seen by me several years ago) notepad in hand, wandering through appliance sections of furniture stores to record which manufacturers comply with THE LAW, and which do not, and they even publish shit lists on their website!

Again, not news – but what IS news, and what brought this to my attention today, was this report:

Iranian Leader Bans Usage of Foreign Words

Way to go, Ahmadinejad, your repressive tactics have finally caught up with those of the Province of Quebec.
Iranians can no longer eat pizza but must eat “elastic loaves”, just as we must eat, er, poutine?

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