Monday smiles – Pastagate

800px-Bucatini_(amatriciana_rossa)Following other recent media frenzies (see here about signage, and this post about bilingual dogs), Quebec’s language watchdog has managed to cause another international rumpus – this time about pasta.

An inspector from the Office quebecois de la langue francaise (OQLF) told Italian restaurant owner Massimo Lecas that he had to replace various terms on his menu, including pasta, calamari, and antipasti, with French equivalents.

This article (which gives more examples of the inspectors’  activities) says the story has been reported in 350 articles in 14 countries so far, and has received 60 times more media coverage outside the province than the Quebec Premier’s trip to New York last December.

Apart from its amusement value, the affair raises serious questions about how we can protect languages, language rights, and how to deal with multilingual communities, and is not unrelated to last week’s post about the rise of Euro-English.

In the wake of Pastagate, the head of the OQLF, Louise Marchand, is stepping down from her position.

3 thoughts on “Monday smiles – Pastagate

  1. Le Pastagate
    I have been watching the uproar from up close because I live in Québec. From a strictly word choice, I can understand the furore on picking on such a bening word as pasta for an Italian restaurant, with a zest of zeal on the part of the language ”cop”. The word pasta has been adopted by the English language, so it is an Italian word and also an English word, but it is not French. We call the innocuous dish ”pâtes” and not ”pasta”. I wonder if that played subconsciously into the uproar.

  2. Pingback: Weekly favorites (Apr 1-7) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

  3. Pingback: Monday smiles – Conservez vos imbéciles… | From Words to Deeds: translation & the law

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