Can I get a side of common sense, please?
Re: “Can I get a side of English, please?” (Opinions, Oct. 13)
I AM WRITING to the Fulcrum in response to Ms. Lytle’s opinion piece about bilingualism at the University of Ottawa.
There is a reality amongst French communities in Canada that I don’t think everybody understands, and I’d like to take a moment to enlighten this issue. As a proud French Canadian, one of my fears is that in generations from now, our language will no longer be spoken—or even recognized as an official one in this country.
Roughly 24 per cent of Canada’s population is French speaking, and 74 per cent English speaking. Of these numbers, roughly 43 per cent of francophones are bilingual and only nine per cent of anglophones can say the same. Based on these statistics, it is evident to me that francophones are still vulnerable to assimilation in this country.
Though I recognize that the University of Ottawa should be bilingual and not favour one language more than the other, Ms. Lytle’s article rubbed me the wrong way. Let’s not forget about the struggle francophones had to face for generations to obtain the bilingual services we now have at the University of Ottawa. Though bilingualism on our campus is not perfect yet, for once it wasn’t a francophone forced to translate an English sign.
I hope that Ms. Lytle’s experience will encourage her to embrace Canada’s cultural duality and learn some French. After all, the francophones outside of Quebec are forced to learn a bit of English to read menus, too.
Third-year communications student
THERE ARE TWO absolutely appalling things about the “Can I get a side of English, please?” article published in the Fulcrum a few weeks ago. Both revolting, both unacceptable.
First off, the mere existence of the article. I am stunned, to say the least, that Jaclyn Lytle actually believed it was appropriate to write—and publish, nonetheless—an article about this “problem.” But I am even more outraged by the fact that this story got airtime on the Ottawa Sun news.
This is absolutely ridiculous, considering the premise of this issue is entirely false! That’s right, the Quiznos signs mentioned by Lytle, along with the two others filmed in the cafeteria for the television segment, were not even solely in French!
The first line might’ve been in French, but if we take just one second to read a little more, we notice that, right underneath the French title, there is the English translation. Sure, the typology is less obvious in comparison to that of the French writing, but it shouldn’t matter. After all, you “could not care less about what size the font is.”
And the other signs? Well, they are in fact completely French—on one side! A simple look at the other side of these signs and this entire false French favouritism situation is resolved.
On top of questioning the journalistic integrity of the Fulcrum, the assumption expressed in this article is shockingly insulting for the French community at our university. This reporter would not survive an hour on this campus in a francophone student’s shoes. There is no French favouritism at our school—if anything, there is English favouritism.
And do you hear the French community complaining? Why yes, of course. But I think it’s safe to say that these complaints and comments are always done in a researched and considering manner: Based on actual facts and a true problem. Most of the time, however, this situation is simply dismissed, because of its ongoing status.
Do you even have any idea of how many English-only things exist at the U of O? Have you ever stopped to think about what it would be like to have to read French textbooks in your English-taught classes? No, of course not. Besides, I think it’s safe to say you would not stand for that.
However, for some reason, the reverse situation is tolerated. I cannot stress enough how much it insults and baffles me that this English-speaking journalist could not endure that one single sign was mainly French. This only goes to show just how much we neglect to offer proper respect and consideration to both of the main language communities on campus.
This false pretence was in no way grounds for a journalistic intervention, especially not one involving student and local media. By writing this story and by being so sensationalistic about it, you have seriously made me lose any hope of eventually living in a truly respectful bilingual environment. Not because of the administration itself or of the format of certain signs, no. Because of the attitude expressed by some members of the English community such as yourself.
Second-year translation student
Invitation for dialogue
ABORTION IS AN issue that has divided Canadians for over 40 years. Currently, abortion is legal on-demand during all nine months of pregnancy, and fully funded by taxpayers. This issue is controversial and it poses major philosophical, medical, legal, social, and political dilemmas. When does human life begin? How can our society support alternatives to abortion and help women in crisis pregnancies?
In the face of such a heated controversy, one would hope that university campuses are the centre of dialogue where we celebrate the freedom of speech by engaging in honest and respectful debate.
The University of Ottawa Students for Life, the pro-life club on campus, wants to have these discussions. However, we are often met with resistance and end up having monologues in lieu of dialogues. Last fall, the club hosted a debate, but the event almost came to a grinding halt as pro-choice speakers again and again refused to discuss the topic. I emailed faculty members and political figures, but no one accepted even the offer of participating as a neutral moderator.
Eventually, we were successful in our search, but this year, U of O Med Students for Life has met the same resistance. Attempts have been made to secure a speaker—doctors, professors, political figures, newspaper columnists—but no one has accepted the invitation.
We would like to make this invitation public. On Nov. 11, we will be hosting a debate on the morality and legality of abortion. If you truly believe that abortion should be allowed at any point in the pregnancy and for any reason, and that it’s not a problem that one in four unborn children will be aborted, I encourage you to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We think that the pro-life position is logical and we’re willing to expose it to scrutiny. I firmly believe that we shouldn’t shy away from something just because it’s controversial. So who is up for the challenge?
President, University of
Ottawa Students for Life