In the last post, we looked at what I call “Texto Lingo”; our special “French” SMS language. Sometimes it is the same as European Texto Lingo, but other times it is different. It is sort of a digital Joual.
Texto Lingo is not just restricted to SMS messages. We routinely find it used on social media (Facebook & Twitter), as well as the comments section of news articles.
I can give you a perfect example I recently came across.
For some time now, there has been a bit of a debate in larger cities across Canada (particularly in Montréal and Toronto) as to how much leeway should be accorded to cyclists on city roads (especially downtown or on busier city roads).
One not-so-diplomatic gentleman (presumably in Montréal) obviously is frustrated at urban cyclists. He took his frustrations out on the facebook page of the SAAQ (a comment which has since been taken down). The SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) is Québec’s state auto insurance company (the counterpart of ICBC in B.C., SGI in Saskatchewan, or MPI in Manitoba).
The SAAQ has received several such comments lately, and each time, they have responded in a very level-headed manner. Such comments which advocate rage and violence against urban cyclists have not gone unnoticed, and they have been picked up by the satirical web-monitoring website Petit Petit Gamin.
1. Translation from Texto Lingo to colloquial (informal) French :
Tab*****, tu as beau leur laisser de la place. Mais quand le fameux crisse de cycliste est seul, et il est en plein milieu de la rue, puis ensuite il faut que tu klaxonne pour qu’il se tasse – et en plus il t’envoie chier – … j’ai juste le goût de donner un coup de steering, puis il y aurait un de moins… Désolé, mais tab*****, ils ont la route exclusivement à eux. Alors utilise-la mon tab*****. Mais viens pas me faire chier sur la route. Shit ils ont un vélo à tas de marde!
2. Translation from colloquial (informal) French to English :
F***! We always have to give them space. But when it’s just you and the bloody cyclist alone, and he’s in the middle of the street, and you have to let on the horn to get him the hell out of the way – he then tells you to screw off – … It just makes me want to swing the steering wheel, and paff… one less. Sorry, but f***, they’ve got the road all to themselves. So fine, take and use it!! You ‘lil f***er! But don’t piss all over me on the road. Christ! their bikes are a piece of shit!
3. Translation of the SAAQ’s reponse from Standard French to English:
I would dare to hope that you do not truly believe what you are writing. You would be ready to live with a death on your conscience in exchange for saving several seconds on the road and a few extra km/hr on your speed indicator? Unless you are serious, we’re lead to believe that you don’t have the cognitive capacities to drive.
Ouch!! But I certainly commend the SAAQ’s even-keeled response.
“Commuter cycling paths” in Québec vs. Anglophone Canada
On this topic of cyclists, just this morning I was speaking with a friend who lives in a smaller community of South-Central Ontario, but who is originally from Montréal and Québec City.
There are a few people from Québec who have moved to the same small community in Ontario as my friend. He said that all of the Québec “ex-pats” are complaining that there is a lack of an “urban cycling commuter paths” in Ontario which one can specfically use to commute downtown to work from all across the city. He contrasted this with Québec’s various cycle networks in numerous cities (large and small).
The lack of cycle paths is something my friend’s acquaintances have noticed. Some are not happy about it, and they’re left wondering if this is a cultural difference between English and French Canada.
I’m not sure. It left me wondering also. I’ve been running various English Canadian cities through my mind… and I certainly can think of a bazillion highly urban cycling paths in Victoria, Vancouver, and in Ottawa to an extent. Calgary has a good number of bike paths, but they tend to be restricted to green corridors (and not adjacent to major thoroughfares). Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, St. John, and Halifax have bike paths, but they generally are found in parklands (the Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg river corridors, Regina’s Wascana Park, St. John & Halifax’s waterfront). But other than that, the rest of the country’s Anglophone cities are not the most bike friendly.
With this being said, closing city street lanes and turning them into dedicated cycle-thoroughfares has been a subject of debate in English Canada for a number of years – particularly in Toronto and Vancouver. The debate certainly exists in English Canada, just as it did in Québec a while back. So perhaps the cultural difference is not that large after all. And just like in Québec, we see people in English Canada who are for it (hence the Vancouver, Victoria, & Ottawa networks), and people who are against it just like the guy in the SAAQ comments (perhaps the Montreal equivalent of Toronto’s “Ford Nation”).
There is some movement on this issue in Anglophone Canada which may see the rest of the country begin to catch up to Québec at some point in the next decade or so. We’re seeing “shared” bike lanes and “green lanes” being painted on the roads to remind drivers to be careful when sharing lanes with cyclists.
It will be interesting to see where this debate goes in Canada – and just how much Francophone & Anglophone mentalities converge on this issue in the future (or not). The issue has come a long ways in the past 10 years. The next 10 years might bring even greater convergence.