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Canada's Official Language Commissioner Calls for More French Cursing

Canada's Official Language Commissioner Calls for More French Cursing
It has become less and less common to hear "sousse mon graine" emanating from government cubicles today

In a new report released today Dyane Adam, Canada's Official Languages Commissioner, offered a scathing assessment of the status of French cursing in the public service.

"Despite assurances in the past that the situation would be improved, French profanity in the public service is at crisis levels," said Adam at a press conference to announce the highly anticipated report. "Maudit tabernac."

In fact, according to the Official Languages Commission, the rate of swearing in French in government offices is at its lowest level since the invocation of Official Bilingualism some 35 years ago.

An excerpt from the 962 page report, which would have been tabled in Parliament today had everyone not gone home for the summer to watch reruns of On the Road Again, explains why nobody's swearing in French in federal departments, agencies and crown corporations. "It has become less and less of a priority in government offices for Anglophones to learn how to swear in French," the report says. "Given the multiple responsibilities many public servants now face in their jobs, including showing up and turning on their computers, this is completely understandable."

Angela McMicky-Bekkers, a file clerk with the Department of Fish, concurs. She can swear only in English. "I don't have time to learn how to swear in French. They've been wantin' to send me off for three months of training at the French Cussin' College, but I just reached the top of the office solitaire pool. Do you know how long it's taken me to get here? There's no fuckin' way am I goin' now."

Other public servants reached for comment - those who weren't crying under their desks - confirmed the report's findings. "I can swear at a 'C' level, but I hate to say, not too many of my underlings can, estie de calice," said Myles Happenruff, Deputy Minister for the federal Department of Roughage. "Even though it's explicitly stated in many of their job descriptions that they have to be able to curse like a Chicoutimi dockworker, most of the Anglos I deal with just don't measure up."

"Maybe I should do something about that, seeing that I am the boss."

Policy Analyst Claude-Etienne Baillergon from the Federal Roundtable on Nose Hair, has also noticed a dearth of French profanity among his co-workers. "English people will show up to a meeting, and sometimes try to make an effort to curse in French. But after the first "tabernac," you can't even understand what they're saying half the time, so you just have to switch and start swearing at them in English. That's the way things work, unfortunately."

At least part of the blame, said Baillergon, lies in the education system. "They don't teach the English kids how to swear like real Quebecers in the French classes. It's all European cursin', like 'bitte,' 'merde,' 'putain de merde.' Nobody in Quebec talks like that," said Baillergon. "What we need to hear are some 'esties,' some 'calices,' some 'va chiers' and shit like that."

Pierre Sacrement, the newly-appointed Minister responsible for profanity in the Martin cabinet, admits that more needs to be done to get people swearing in French in the public service. But he says some of the blame needs to be placed on the individual:

"You have to make the effort. If these old English folks can't learn to speak French, they could at least learn how to swear in it. After all, if you can cuss in a language, you can get by, even if you can't say another word," said Sacrement. "The only thing my grandfather could say in English was 'fuck you all,' and he was elected to Parliament as the MP for Medicine Hat for eight consecutive terms."

Posted on August 3rd, 2004



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