So some of you may remember a graphic I posted last week on Facebook that mashed the OQLF and the new Google Word Lens Translator app. If you didn't see it, here it is on Facebook:
It generated some buzz and discussion, which was mostly positive and constructive. I was also called a bigot, told to "f off", and got unfriended by a couple of people. That's fair, I suppose. I don't enjoy being called a bigot, but if you don't like my politics or my sense of humor, then by all means, remove me from your feed. It's your Facebook experience, so do what you have to do.
For the record though, I must state that I do believe that the French culture in Quebec deserves to be preserved, nurtured, and allowed to thrive and evolve. I just don't think that the OQLF is the way to do it. If you want to preserve the art of dance, you can't just force everyone to learn the Charleston and expect dance to thrive. While some people will want to explore what other dance is out there, many people will resent the art of dance being forced upon them. What you want to do is invest in the dance community, allow it to evolve and develop, consume the art that is generated, and make it accessible to as many people as possible.
If it's important to you that Quebec culture should be preserved and allowed to thrive, you either need to personally invest in art and culture that reflects Quebec's cultural identity, past, present, and future, or you pressure government to fund it. Either way, this will allow Quebec art and culture to thrive in a way that can make it easier for the greater population to discover and learn from it.
If you truly believe that preserving Quebec culture is important, prove it by honestly answering at least two of these questions, ordered according to intensity (without looking them up on Google):
1. Name 3 to 5 French Quebecois artists (any genre) whose art you have consumed (purchased) in the last year.
2. Name 3 to 5 French Quebecois artists (any genre) who you know has released their art to the public in the last year.
3. Name 3 to 5 French Quebecois artists (any genre) whose art you have consumed (purchased) regularly in the past 5 years.
4. Name 5 Quebecois artists (any culture, any genre) whose art you have consumed (purchased) in the last year.
5. Name 5 Quebecois artists (any culture, any genre) who you know has released their art to the public in the last year.
6. Name 10 Quebecois artists (any culture, any genre) whose art you have consumed (purchased) regularly in the past 5 years.
How did you do? If were able to answer these questions truthfully and easily, then the artistic cultural community in Quebec thanks you for your support. They would not be able to do what they do without you, and you are actively nurturing Quebec's cultural identity.
But if you profess to value Quebec culture and art and yet you struggled with these questions, then I would suggest that you may not be really valuing Quebec culture in a way that is constructive and supportive. Culture and Art need to be supported and nurtured actively, not abstractly. You should be consuming it substantially and in a way that invests and supports the artists that produce it, which in turn, sustains Quebec's cultural identity.
Until you can honestly make this statement, you are not supporting your words with action. If there is any threat to the preservation of Quebecois culture, you may be actively contributing to its threat and demise.
In addition to personal support and investment, the Quebecois government should be doing more to support the community and contribute to its evolution and development. With government support, the arts and culture can then be made accessible to the general population, who in turn, consume it and support the artists, which allows the Quebec culture to survive and thrive.
Rather than having a narrow definition of culture being forced upon the populace, you can widen access to the culture that is already thriving and allow it to be celebrated.
SIDE NOTE: A few years ago, I was on a Facebook group for people who felt that Anglo language and culture was under attack in Quebec. When I asked these people these same questions but for Quebec Anglo artists, none of them could honestly name anyone local that they supported. I left the group soon after. Supporting our cultural and artistic pioneers is a problem for both Solitudes.