Edmundston — When it comes to anglophones learning French, it’s apparent to many that you can’t always get what you want.
After 50 years of bilingualism and countless hours of primary and secondary school instruction, less than 18 per cent of New Brunswick anglophones are bilingual. So, one prominent New Brunswick francophone is offering a compromise to English-speaking New Brunswickers.
“I mean, over 72 per cent of francophones became bilingual because we recognize that we are in the minority and it’s better for us if we know English,” said Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard. “It would be nice if English folks realized that francophones make up one-third of the province though and made some effort to learn French too!
“That said, I’m a realist…so, we are willing to meet them halfway. We are now asking English New Brunswickers to consider at least learning Chiac. I mean, like it would be a really nice gesture, right? And while you might not get a government job, at least we can have a decent conversation.”
Simard says that Chiac — the New Brunswick French dialect that is made up of a blend of both English and French words — is probably a more realistic goal for unilingual anglophones. “With Chiac, before you’ve even started to learn it you’re already halfway there! We literally can’t make it any easier to learn ‘sort-of’ French.”
Simard gave some Chiac examples to illustrate how small the barriers are to learning Chiac. “Take the phase, ‘J’vais parker mon car dans le driveway là.‘ Now, come on…without knowing a word of French you can figure out what that person is saying. Really, it’s not that hard.
“How about, ‘Well ça c’é pretty sharp, man.‘ or ‘Check ça out, pi call-moi back.’ Those are barely French in any way! You can definitely do this!”
Finally, Simard gave an incentive that most anglophones will find irresistable. “If you folks do this for us, we’ll show you how to make the really good poutine…not the shit that you get at McDonald’s! C’é pretty right on ça!”