An investigation conducted by the language police in Quebec has finally come to an end after five long months. After an anonymous complaint against an Italian restaurant in the region, the authorities sent a letter to the owner, informing him that by using too many non-French words on his menu, he had in fact broken the law.

The language police are a specialist unit within the government of Quebec that operates with the intention of preserving the French language and resisting the influences of others, especially English. People who feel that the French language is being intruded upon, in any aspect of society, can make a complaint to the language police and an investigation will take place.
The Italian restaurant in question, owned by Massimo Lecas, has a long list of celebrity customers including Rihanna, Jerry Seinfeld, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Bono. The crime of the restaurant, it seems, was to use the word ‘pasta’ on the menu and ‘bottiglia’ which is the Italian word for bottle. The language police insist they should have used the French term instead, which is ‘bouteille’.

Facebook influence

Lecas received a letter from the authorities informing him of his crime and promptly took to Facebook to share the letter with his 2,500 ‘friends’. The public outcry that ensued forced the Quebec government to re-evaluate its language policing policy in regards to ethnic food menus. The many ethnic communities in Quebec are celebrating this victory over the government however some locals are becoming increasingly concerned at what this means for the future of the French language in Quebec. There is a massive amount of support for the language police and the work that they do, with many people desperate to see that English influence doesn’t impose any further onto their language.

The decision that Lecas made to go public with his letter encouraged other restaurant owners to do the same. Some with far more ridiculous stories than his. One owner spoke of how the language police had forced him to cover up the on/off switch on his microwave with tape and the redial button on his landline telephone as both were in English. The grocery list, which had been written on a chalkboard in the kitchen, was also found to have broken the law as some ingredients were written in unacceptable words.

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