Ross Murray Speaks: U and Moi

Ross Murray Speaks: U and Moi

By Ross Murray

They say an English Quebecer can never truly appreciate what it’s like to be a minority. I don’t know who “they” are but they’re awfully noisy and seem to have far too much influence for their own good.

Regardless, the argument goes that, even as minority anglos in a French province, we’re still buffered linguistically by most of North America, a pretty good chunk of Europe and (that greatest influence of them all) Hollywood. We’re not so much anglos in a sea of French as anglos in a pond of French, and it’s really just a quick paddle to shore.

Consequently, the plight of a minority anglo can never be taken as seriously as that of a francophone, or so they would have you believe. My God, “they” are condescending, aren’t they!

Without getting into which language group stands to make a bigger assimilation of itself, there is one linguistic area where an anglo – or any Canadian, for that matter – can empathize with the French linguistic struggle: the fight for “honour.”

“Honour,” “colour,” “neighbour,” not to mention what’s left of “centre,” and don’t forget to take “offence.” In North America, Canadian spelling is constantly under attack.

I have a blog. I know; this is like saying I have 26 stuffed animals on my bed and I say goodnight to each of them by name: equal parts embarrassing and sad. But if you could set aside your derision for a moment, I’ll explain that one of the tricks of successful blogging is to tag your posts. This enables search engines to find your vital musings. Say you post a photo of yourself enjoying a quiet meal with Mr. Tipplewilly, your three-foot plush elephant. You would then tag your post “elephant,” “stuffed animals,” “supper,” “forever single” and “cry for help.”

Since I write allegedly comic bits, I tag my posts “humour.” But because most of my tens upon tens of readers are American, I also tag them “humor.” Sometimes I think, “What’s the point of doubling the word? Why don’t I just write ‘humor’?”

Because that’s just what they would like, isn’t it! (And by “they,” I mean a different “they” but equally intolerant.)

Those squiggly red lines under “flavour” and “defence” every time you use Microsoft Word? Those are squiggles of heritage, a thin red wavy line connecting Canada directly to its European roots and its tendency to be just a bit snooty.

Sure it would be simpler to cave; it’s just spelling, not like we’re embracing Republican virtues and the right to bear Twinkies. But to lose the U, to acquiesce, would be just one more wave of national erosion. Lose the U and next thing you know we’re no longer apologizing for being Canadian.

So how do you U users ensure that Canadian spelling continues to take centre stage in our national writing style? Through coercion and scolding? Should I insist that everyone who comments on my blog spell things my way? That’s certainly one way to reduce my tens and tens of followers down to ones and ones.

The best way for language to survive is to use it, consistently, accurately, proudly and (untypically Canadian) unapologetically.

Of course, an issue easily settled by a Canadian Press Style Guide is minor compared to championing the survival of French in North America. French is fragile, and I doubt that there is an English Quebecer who doesn’t appreciate and even support efforts to preserve it. But there are survival issues at stake for anglos as well, linguistic and cultural.

“They” would certainly benefit from walking a mile on our U’s.

Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Ross Murray

Ross Murray is an award-winning humorist and radio contributor and the author of two books ‘You’re Not Going to Eat That, Are You?’ and ‘Don’t Everyone Jump at Once’. Raised in Nova Scotia, Ross has lived in the Eastern Townships of Quebec since the early 1990’s with his wife Debbie, four children and far too many pets. After all this time, Ross feels comfortable calling himself a Townshipper; his neighbours call him something else.

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