Classic Montréal Moment

February 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

There all kinds of things that make Montréal a unique city, not the least of which is language and all of the fallout from that.  One of the most bizarre moments here is to find oneself, an Anglo, speaking French to another Anglo.  It happens quite often, especially when dealing with the retail industry.  It’s always an odd moment, because you’re thinking the guy’s French doesn’t sound quite right, his accent is slightly off.  You live here long enough, you can distinguish between working class and bourgeois Québécois French, and between they and European French, and you can start to figure out the regional differences in accents within Québec, too. But Anglos have their own accent of course. So while you’re standing there trying to figure out where his is from, he’s also noticed that your French accent isn’t quite right, either. And then it hits both of you at the exact same second: you’re both Anglos. Then comes the true test, who blinks first? Who switches back to the mother tongue?  Maybe now you degenerate into showing off who’s more fluent in French?  All the different ways this simple transaction for a pair of jeans can turn out. In this case, he switched back to English, I followed.  We had a laugh.  Life went on.

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