YouTube, the ‘Montréal Switch’, and what it means to call Montréal home (by Lauren Godfrey-Smith)

I am weirdly fascinated by a comedic music video titled ‘Anglo’ by Montréal-based comedian, Mike Patterson. The video is captioned with this description (translated from French), “Are you an Anglophone? Are you annoyed when you speak in French and all the Francophones switch into English because of your accent and grammatical errors? It’s important to practice though! That’s why I wrote this song. We live in Québec, let us speak French, even if it’s not good! Speak to me in French when I buy my beer at the corner store, ostie!” (‘ostie’, referencing the host, is a religion-based expletive unique to the variety of French that is spoken in Québec, and is roughly equivalent to ‘damn it’). To give you a general idea, the video is about self-described Anglophone Mike Patterson, who in the song (entirely in French) expresses his frustration at always being spoken to in English whenever he speaks French. Since putting this video up on YouTube in 2012, Patterson’s video has received around 13,000 views and some pretty interesting comments from viewers. Continue reading

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Languages, generations (by Dr. Mela Sarkar)

This is my first blog post of any kind, ever. It’s also the very first blog post on our new BILD/LIDA site, which feels like a big responsibility. This is a kind of public writing on language that, for me, feels very new. BILD/LIDA as a social-cum-academic group in fact feels quite familiar (I have been part of something similar connected to second language acquisition research that operates out of Concordia for about twenty years now, since I was a new PhD student there). There ought to be more groups like this – regular gatherings of academics at all career levels who care passionately about a research area and the issues involved. Even if there’s no research funding, or specific projects that would need funding launched yet. In this group, BILD/LIDA, everybody’s thesis work has been launched, and sometimes completed, but thesis work tends to happen in a person’s individual corner. We need reasons to come out of our corners and talk to each other, reasons that are not corporate-driven. Universities are corporations; research, at least the post-thesis, published kind, is now mostly about dollars, and it is difficult even to think about in non-monetary terms. Scholars — I use the word advisedly, and with affection; for me it means something different from “academics” — have been gathering in this spontaneous and unfunded way for centuries, perhaps millennia. Famous for it! But only now are they able to write, inter alia, blog posts about their consuming and mutual passions that will be read immediately, as fast as light can take the words to other screens, not only by their fellow gatherers but also, potentially, by anybody with internet access. And that is new. Terrifying, liberating, and new. Continue reading