Thursday, July 30, 2009

Language And Hockey

I don't want to wade too far into this quagmire, but a couple of really good articles have come up recently that made me think I should at least recommend them to you.

All will have noticed the amputation of the Quebecois arm of the Canadiens defence and the slow letting of some of the forward group as well. The comment has begun in some quarters and I recommend a read. At the very least it will prepare you with some background as you take in the doubtless numerous debates on this issue in l'Antichambre and 110% studios come September.

Anyway, here are the links:

No Dogs or Anglophones writes on the initial early July boycott that arose from the non-signings and signings that formed the 2009-10 Habs. The links within the piece are very educational and give a better idea of where the other side of the debate might be coming from.

And, yesterday new blogger Flying Frenchmen asked THE question. I hope he'll answer it too. I'm sure once he gets his feet in the blogosphere he'll be more willing to take on the storm... I responded on his blog, but only with regard to the biggest zealots on the issue who I feel will never be happy about the balance of the team – because happiness is not what they seek.

Aside on language: The RDS legacy

A bit of a tangent, I also wanted to note one very positive aspect of the language and the Canadiens lies with RDS. It's oft overlooked and even obscured as I criticise their journalistic integrity, but the fact remains if you are a fan of the Canadiens, RDS has been a boon.

Part of it is monopoly, of course. But a happy one, I'd suggest. Whether you are English, Spanish, Haitian, New Zealander, Finn, Quebecois or Manitoban you virtually have to watch the game in French. I say virtually because there are some alternatives: CBC on Saturdays, TSN once in a blue moon, or the old CJAD radio broadcast (if you can stand the ads and Murray Wilson's rambling – I can't). As such, we know that many fans of the team whose mother tongue is English will tune into the excellent Pierre Houde and his flailing side kick to take in the games.

I can only really speak from personal experience here, but watching hockey and hockey related programmes on RDS (everyone knows Sports 30 is Habs 26) has literally upped my French TV consumption by 100%. Were it not for this exposure and associated blogs and websites, my French would be woefully out of practice. Instead, I am very much in tune with my second language, and very pleased about that too. In fact, I'm happy that so many Habs fans across the country (if they can afford to bring RDS into their homes, that is) can enjoy this option as well.

And the great thing for the real fans of the French language is that it doesn't matter where the players on the ice are from really. The play-by-play, the comment, it's all in French (aside from Brunetisms) regardless of who's controlling the puck. It's great (free) practice for me – and honestly, where would I be without learning all the interesting ways that french pronunciation of Eastern European and other names differs from the English. Plekanetz? Malahoff? Derek Roy?

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