Young Quebecers still prefer to be served in French

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Young Quebecers ;cois still prefer to be served in French

If the language of Félix Leclerc is widely used in local shops, it is not not the case when young people shop online.

Young Quebecers attach great importance to the presence of French in businesses, according to a recent study by the Office québécois de la langue française.

Young people aged 18 to 34 give great importance to the presence of French in businesses, noted the Office québécois de la langue française in a study.

The majority of young Quebecers believe that service in French should always be available in Quebec, without however objecting to service in English being offered to those who want it.

The authors of the study French language in Quebec : uses and behaviors of 18 to 34 years in < em>2021 conclude that French remains the language mainly used by young Quebecers in local businesses, but is not when it comes to making purchases online.

Between February and April 2021, 6,008 Quebecers aged 18 to 34 were surveyed about their ability to receive service in French, the languages ​​they used in businesses near their home, the languages ​​in which they preferred to be served in a business and the languages ​​they used to make purchases online.

About 30 respondents also participated in focus groups on the results in order to better understand them.

During 2021-2022, the OQLF received 6,292 complaints, one-third (31%) of which related to language of service. To consult the study, click here.

In 2021, French was the most used language in convenience stores (86.7%) in the whole province. A percentage similar to that measured in 2016 (86.8%).

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Quebec and Montreal oppose in the results by region.

On the Island of Montreal, the proportion of young people who said they used French more often was the lowest in the province, at 75%.

This percentage rises to 96.7% for those in the Quebec region, at the top of the list. Young people from the Saguenay region follow closely with 96.6%.

More than two-thirds of young people (68%) said they preferred to be served in French in 2021. This percentage reaches 80% among Francophones.

In general, the preferred language was also the one used most often in commerce.

Among Francophones, the preference for French is more pronounced with age: 85% of those aged 30 to 34 preferred to be served in French, while this percentage drops to 76% among those aged 18. at 23.

Several residents of Greater Montreal feel that the use of French in businesses has declined in recent years.

The trend was reversed among Anglophones: 30-34 year olds were less likely to prefer receiving service in their mother tongue (29%) than 18-23 year olds (49%).

Half of allophones preferred to receive service in French.

The fact that the preference for French increases with age, regardless of the language spoken at home, is an important element to monitor in future studies, according to the OQLF. In fact, 66% of all respondents aged 18 to 23 said they preferred French, compared to 73% of those aged 30 to 34.

Quebec's French character remains important and respected by the majority of Anglophones and Allophones who participated in the focus groups.

It's still funny that I say that, as an English speaker, but I'm surprised when I go to a store and people speak to me in English, testifies a Montrealer whose mother tongue is neither French or English.

“If I go to a mall or somewhere else and I hear English, it sounds foreign, even though it's my language. It sounds foreign, because it's supposed to speak French. […] I will say it if I do not understand things and I will ask for an explanation. »

— A Montrealer whose mother tongue is neither French nor English who participated in the focus groups of the OQLF study

However, they mentioned that they wanted to be served in English in shops when communication in the language of Molière is not effective.

The reform of the Charter of the French language was adopted by the National Assembly in May 2022. According to the Legault government, the objective is to curb the decline of French.

A A large proportion (45%) of young people who preferred to be served in French said they adapted to their interlocutor when their knowledge of French and English was sufficient, but more than a third (36%) affirmed that they #x27;adapted even if it was not ideal for them.

In addition, 27% said they continued to speak French when they received service in another language.

Across Quebec, most young people who preferred to be served in French (46%) said that it happened to them not to be served in this language a few times a year, nearly a quarter (24%) said that it happened to them at least once a year month and almost a third (30%) said they had never experienced such a situation.

A sticker promoting French in a business.

Regardless of language group, being able to receive service in French in Quebec was important to the young people who took part in the focus groups.

Some young people stressed the importance of obtaining service in quality French, while showing tolerance towards people who do not speak French, especially if they show a willingness to provide service in that language.

This is the case for this respondent from the Sherbrooke area. When I arrive in a business and [que] I have the impression that the person is making an effort, but that he does not yet have the ability to speak French, of course I switch to English. But if the person simply does not make an effort, I risk repeating in French so that someone can find me who speaks French. Without being disagreeable, […] if I see that there is no effort, I will continue to insist that there [are] efforts and that I be served in French.

The use of French by young people aged 18 to 34 when shopping online contrasts with the preferences of respondents in convenience stores.

In fact, 43% said they used mainly French to make purchases online, compared to 87% for purchases in stores.

More than a third of young people (36%) said they used English most often and nearly eight in ten young people in this group justified this on the grounds that they had a better command of this language.

Half of French speakers used French to make purchases online, while around a quarter used English more often.

Half of allophones use English more often to make online purchases, but more than a third used French more often.

An interior view of the Eaton Centre, Montreal

Montrealers are more exposed to the language of Shakespeare in public display or in stores, a reality widely emphasized by young people in the focus groups.

Only 58% of young Montrealers preferred to be served in French and 75% used French more often. Almost a quarter (23%) had no preference.

In a 2018 Office study of Montrealers of all ages, 74% preferred to be served in French. Furthermore, 65% of 18 to 24 year olds preferred to be served in French, and this percentage was 76% among 25 to 34 year olds.

These percentages were lower than in all other regions studied. The greater presence of English in businesses in certain neighborhoods of Montreal was moreover perceived as a more normal situation than elsewhere in the province.

The authors specify that the discussion groups made it possible to understand that a French-speaking linguistic environment promotes the use of French in businesses among young people whose mother tongue is other than French.

I think it's important that it's in French [the signage],” said a Montrealer whose first language is neither French nor English. I remember the first time I came to Montreal. When I arrived in Canada, I had to use Google Translate a lot to translate certain things, to make sure I knew where I was going.

This habit helped him fit in, he adds. If I heard certain things later, I could know what it meant. It might be nice if it was also in English. On the other hand, by translating with Google Translate, I learned a lot more.

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