LE PIGEON DISSIDENT

Ci-dessous, une lettre (en anglais, vous comprendrez pourquoi…) adressée au journal étudiant Le Pigeon dissident de la Faculté de Droit de l’Université de Montréal dans laquelle son auteur, un avocat anglophone qui a fait ses études de droit au Québec, fustige avec un argumentaire des plus pertinents la décision de la direction étudiante du journal d’angliciser le contenu de celui-ci. Il exprime notamment l’avis que la responsabilité d’une telle publication est de s’assurer que les étudiants non francophones apprennent à maîtriser la langue vernaculaire de leur future profession, qui est également celle du « public domain » au Québec : le français! Il invite les francophones à se respecter et à se faire respecter en cessant de banaliser cette langue et cette culture si belles et si riches qu’ils ont en partage, pour se mettre au diapason des George Bush (pouvoir) et des Steven Speilberg (argent)!

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English eh?

Le Pigeon dissident
Pigeon-dissident@umontreal.com

TO: Law Students, Université de Montréal

As a graduate of the McGill Faculty of Law, and also a former sessional lecturer there, and being specialized in American Business Law for Quebec businesses, one might think I would be a fervent supporter of the decision to publish a bilingual student newspaper. But I don’t think law has anything to do with it. If I understand correctly, the Pigeon-dissident is a student life paper where students can exchange on their newly acquired views about their chosen profession and the life before them and around them. Of course every faculty in every institution should aspire to have such a journal – but why bilingual?

To begin with, why would someone want to study law in your faculty? Why would someone want to pay taxes to support your faculty? Obviously, because it is an important tool by which society provides you, the student, with the means of acquiring an education and a future. The essence of a future in Quebec Society is the ability to participate, and unless one consciously chooses to live in a ghetto, participation requires mastery of the common language, French. Assuming all students wish to evolve in this society, French is not only a pre-requisite, it should also be sufficient in the public domain. (Students who have no intention of evolving in this society are just freeloading with no intent to repay the generosity of their fellow citizens – shame!)

So why English? It is a lame argument that one might want to facilitate the integration of students whose mother tongue is English. We are not helping them to integrate by dispensing them from learning the first and primary tool of integration – the ability to communicate in public. I came to Quebec in 1974 at the age of 20. I chose to study at Université Laval. I wanted to discover the real Québec. My largest handicap was having to read through 100 pages of political science in English and then write a five page essay in French with absolutely no vocabulary. I survived sudden death immersion with the support of French bulletin boards, French student meetings, a French film club and French student newspapers. I am told that, long before you or I walked the streets of Montreal, the French catholic schools in Quebec would not admit Italian immigrants – pushing a whole immigrant cohort into the arms of the anglophone community. You may not realize it, but your public domain language choices have a profound impact on society and its future.

It is also a lame excuse that we are people of the world, unfettered by the confines of national boundaries, free to participate in the global experience of a world in transition. I do not see any interest in publishing in Arabic, Mandarin or Spanish. Students have the freedom to travel during their studies, to read and write in international and foreign journals of their choice. The opportunities to communicate in English abound, within and without Québec. And those who master the language of Shakespeare may wish to pursue personal interests or a professional career beyond the bounds of our tiny Québec ‘nation’. That’s great! What a luxury! But the world does not need another English-bilingual student paper to make those choices become real for Quebecers. Not only are those choices already very real, they are overwhelming!

On the other hand, what Quebec does need is Lawyers and Doctors and Accountants and Teachers and Managers and Engineers who can read and write proficiently in French, and who are aware of the professional and academic dimensions of what’s going on in their own back yard – draining the water table for export, defrauding investors, depleting mackerel stock in our oceans, shutting down logging towns, ensuring school children get breakfast, reviving political leadership, housing the elderly, building reliable bridges,. This is your future. This is Quebec’s future. Discussing this in French is in no way diminishing. If it’s worth publishing, it’s worth publishing in French for all to read.

The Pigeon-dissident has a moral debt to its community. You can help fellow law students sharpen their French language skills reading and writing about genocide with Général Dallaire, about world affaires with Louise Arbour or Louise Beaudoin, or even about Hollywood with Bad Cop Patrick Huard. To accommodate the English language in a student paper is just one more wasted opportunity to see the French Language grow and prosper. As we say in English: Use it! or Lose it! How do you say that in French? Or do you?

It is still a mystery to me why YOU, ‘Québécois-francophones-de-souche’, have such a rich and unique language and yet so many of you at the first opportunity will trample it with misuse and adopt not the classic language of Shakespeare (illumination), but the language of George Bush (power) and Steven Spielberg (fortune). You, leaders of tomorrow, where is your pride, your self respect? As said the Lion King’s baboon "You cannot deny who you are".

I think linguistic diversity and cultural and religious freedoms are all great. I just don’t think they should be imposed on the public domain.

Voilà! Je vous souhaite un bon et fructueux débat! Vous excuserez mon choix de vous écrire en anglais, mais l’occasion se prêtait si bien de vous livrer un sermon dans la langue de votre choix. Personnellement, je crois que ce choix est une erreur.

John Saywell

John Saywell, Avocat (NY, QC)
Montréal

c. c. presidence@aedmontreal.com; Anne-marie.boisvert@umontreal.ca

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Note d’Impératif français
Adresses utiles:

Le Pigeon Dissident
Journal des étudiants de la Faculté de droit
3200, Jean-Brillant, Suite A-2412
Montréal, Québec
H3T IN8
514 343-6111 (5021)

Pigeon-dissident@umontreal.com
Association des étudiantes et étudiants en droit de l’Université de Montréal inc
Présidente
presidence@aedmontreal.com
514 343-6111 (3637)

Le Quartier libre
Journal des étudiants de l’Université de Montréal
journalql@gmail.com
info@quartierlibre.ca
514 343-7630

Faculté de droit de l’Université de Montréal
Madame Anne-Marie Boivert
Doyenne
Anne-marie.boisvert@umontreal.ca
514 343-2356