April 2015 Archives


Sam and Simon

The thirties are a strange time, a sort of limbo between not being old enough to be considered middle-aged and not quite young enough to be considered...well, young. However, they are thought to be the time when an individual attains maturity and stability in most areas of life, or so we like to think. Ces gars-là, roughly translated as "Those Boys," follows the lives of two quirky bachelors in their thirties as they chase highs and experience lows in the metropolis of none other than Montréal. The show has been a surprising hit on the relatively minor V network, attracting 500,000 viewers in its first season, and was renewed for a second season which debuted last February. It breaks ground in Quebec television through its realistic representation of life in Montreal, such as the pervasive use of anglicisms in everyday French speech, as well as the evident presence and influence of multiculturalism and bilingualism throughout the city. Despite its raunchy and occasionally over-the-top brand of humour, the show is nonetheless thoroughly entertaining thanks to its original characters, plot and dialogue.

Capture5.PNGImage Source: www.montrealgazette.com

Code-switching is generally identified as the alternation between two or more languages within one conversation or context. Many factors contribute to the phenomenon and just as many reasons underlie it. On a smaller scale, code-switching is primarily generated by the propinquity of two or more languages that are either all official or spoken by a vast majority of people within one community.

Montreal, being a mutilingual city where French and English are dominantly in use, is an example par excellence of such a community. The ease with which Montrealers switch from one language to the other in the same conversation, and for no apparent reason, may very well stump foreigners who are unfamiliar with the local linguistic overlap. Some qualify the phenomenon of code-switching as a sure testimony to a person`s high IQ--the capability to juggle a couple of languages within the space of a single utterance seems impressive. It is even acknowledged that, more often than not, people code-switch for an added stylistic effect, for the sake of variety so to speak, and not because they have a poor command of their native language.

Given the many language policies affecting the status of French and English over the course of Quebec`s history, Anglophones and Francophones have oftentimes found themselves at daggers drawn as regards language prevalence and prestige. It is important to note that the latter is only a superficial issue; the bottom part of the iceberg is all about identity and the way the two lingusitic groups position themselves based on their attitude towards either English or French specifically and bilingualism within the country in general.

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