Canada
'Pasta' now OK on Italian restaurant menu: Quebec language police

Credits: TVA Nouvelles

QMI AGENCY

MONTREAL — It appears that the word “pasta” will stay on the menu at Montreal’s Buonanotte restaurant, after all.

Quebec’s language police, the OQLF, have admitted an inspector showed “an excess of zeal” in citing Italian words on the restaurant’s menu.

The eatery on St-Laurent boulevard was recently cited for using the words "antipasti" (starters), "pasta," "carne” (meat) and "pesce” (fish) without French equivalents.

A furor erupted this week following the latest investigation by the agency that enforces Bill 101, Quebec’s French-language charter. A single complaint is sufficient to trigger a probe.

The OQLF initially stuck to its guns, with spokesman Martin Bergeron citing the “rule of equivalence” that says no language can be predominant over French.

But on Wednesday, the agency issued a statement that noted the intense media coverage and the need for compromise.

“Despite the use of certain words in a language other than French in the restaurant’s menu, it is clear that there has been an excess of zeal,” said the OQLF.

“The office will consider the restaurant’s peculiarities, taking particular account of the exception related to foreign specialties.”

Massimo Lecas, co-owner of Buonanotte, told QMI Agency that a foreign-themed restaurant is bound to have foreign words on the menu.

“You don’t go to a Greek restaurant where the word ‘tzatziki’ is translated,” he said. “It gives it its charm, right?”

The news drew condemnation all the way to the Quebec legislature, where opposition critic Nathalie Roy said the whole thing was petty.

“There isn’t a francophone or a Quebecer who would be offended to see the word 'pasta' on a menu,” she said. “This is ridiculous.”

The OQLF has been at the centre of many controversies over the last year.

In March 2012, Huntingdon, Que., cancelled a municipal bulletin after OQLF ordered the town to stop communicating with citizens in both English and French. Mayor Stephane Gendron called the language laws “racist” and refered to OQLF as the “language Taliban.”

A month later, language police launched investigation after the words “Soiled Linen” were found on laundry bins at Montreal’s Saint-Luc hospital.

In May, separatist groups blitzed west-end Montreal, submitting 850 complaints to OQLF for excessive English on signs.

And in October 2012, six American big-box stores, including Walmart and Best Buy, sued Quebec after they were ordered to add French words to their outdoor signs.

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