For some reason, until that point in time, whoever had been in charge of the school boards in Quebec, in their ultimate stupidity, had decided that the Francophones and the Anglophones would go to different schools. Anyone who didn't have an Anglophone birthright, ie, a Grandparent who had studied in an English school in Quebec, was relegated to attending the French language school board.
At the time, it was likely a really good idea. It would ensure that all immigrants would learn to speak French.
But they made a mess of things.
The Francophone kids were given one hour of English class per week. And the Anglophone kids were given half days in French. So, inevitably what has come to pass is that Quebec boasts a fully bilingual Anglophone population and a sadly unilingual Francophone population. The Allophones seem to have gotten a hit and miss attitude thrown their way, in that if they are Anglophone at home, they are bilingual, but if they are Francophone at home, they have a similar non-existent English skill.
Needless to say, I went to a lot of effort to translate my website sales pages into French. Ensuring that should Quebecers EVER decide they might be able to eat something hotter than a jalapeno, they'd be able to shop on my site.
A few years back someone reported us to the Office de la Langue Francaise du Quebec: aka, the Language Police. The fellow who came to visit our offices was a very nice man, his English was immaculate and his original mother tongue was Spanish, since he came from Columbia. I was vrey surprised to learn that French was not only not his first or second langue, it wasn't even his third, as his mother was Chinese, he had been taught Mandarin. It was only as an adult, upon moving to Quebec that our Language Cop learned to speak French.
I love that story.
Needless to say, we were told to put a button on the Front page so that our customers could find their way directly to the French pages and we were done. 3000 pages in both official languages and we didn't even get a nod on the LOCAL news media. Everyone in the world who gets audited by the OLFQ gets national coverage but us.
I have had people behave like we are pariahs because we are Anglo, even though both of us speak French fluently, I moreso than Greg.
Needless to say it was really insulting when we received this email...
Bonjour, je cherchais des sauces et j’ai été très déçu de constater que vous accordez si peu d’importance à la qualité du français sur votre site internet. Je trouve que c’est dommage, c’est un critère important pour moi en tant que consommateur.
At first, I was really insulted and then I remembered who I am and why we do what we do.
When Greg and I started this little project called Peppermaster, we had to import all of our chilli peppers. ALL OF THEM.
Today, we boast 90% locally grown peppers during the fall harvest season. That's a lot of work on our part. We didn't do it alone, certainly, but we are definitely one of the main reasons that farmers in Quebec began growing peppers and now you can get ghost chillies in the grocery store! Amazing!
Well spirit and light beings that we are, we decided to put a spin on the incident and make ourselves feel better.
So we did. I put a Google Translate button on the website. Now you can enjoy our QUALITY GOOGLE TRANSLATION.
Dear Mr. Client,
I typically would respond to your email in French, but I wanted to be sure that you understood me quite clearly, and since my French is so weak, that you felt the need to write about it, I thought I would write you back in English, and let Google translate do the work for me.
I was born in St. John's Newfoundland. I moved to Quebec to go to school and have gone to great lengths to no only learn to speak French, to write it as well. I have met many a Quebecer whose "Quality" of French is well below mine. In fact, my first husband born and bred in Quebec and nobody in his entire family speaks French. I personally find that offensive. So I actually went to McGill and studied French so that I could speak it, and speak it properly, obviously, that has not been the result.
My husband grew up in the Caribbean, where English was the only language. So, although, he can speak a modicum of French, he is far from fluent.
Writing the language is a whole other ball game, though, and certainly using colloquialisms, whether in English or in French, may put some people off, but that's why your note was so inspiring.
We are a very small company and hiring a translator is simply unavailable to us, at this time.
I am an Anglophone and so is my husband, and it would be horrible if nothing other than my low quality French prevented someone from purchasing the World's best hot sauce. Then, it is clear we've made a huge marketing mistake.
So, we took your email to heart. I have now offered a landing page where a French speaking customer will be given the option of Google Translating our website or visiting it in the words of the owners of the site.
I hope this solution is works, and look forward to sending you a bottle of hot sauce of your choice in order to thank you for the heads' up. I personally recommend the Hurricane Mash. It is our best seller and Greg has been eating it every day since he was 8 years old.
We invite you to visit the website, again, and choose a product to try. When you find one, use coupon code: coupon code removed
And here is the Google translation:
Je répondrais généralement à votre e-mail en français, mais je voulais être sûr que vous m'avez bien compris, et comme mon français est assez faible que vous nous écriviez, je pensais que je vous répondrais en anglais et laisserais Google Traduction faire le travail pour moi.
Je suis née à St. John's à Terre-Neuve. J'ai déménagé au Québec pour aller à l'école et j'ai fait de grands efforts pour non seulement apprendre à parler français, mais aussi à l'écrire. J'ai rencontré beaucoup de Québécois dont la «qualité» du français est bien en dessous de la mienne. En fait, mon premier mari né et élevé au Québec et personne dans toute sa famille ne parle français. Personnellement, je trouve cela offensant. Je suis donc allé à McGill et j'ai étudié le français pour pouvoir le parler, et le parler correctement, évidemment, ce n'est pas le résultat.
Mon mari a grandi dans les Caraïbes, où l'anglais était la seule langue. Ainsi, bien qu'il puisse parler un minimum de français, il est loin de parler couramment.
L'écriture de la langue est un tout autre jeu de balle, cependant, et certainement utiliser des expressions familières, que ce soit en anglais ou en français, peut décourager certaines personnes, mais c'est pourquoi votre note était si inspirante.
Nous sommes une très petite entreprise et l'embauche d'un traducteur ne nous est tout simplement pas disponible pour le moment.
Je suis anglophone, tout comme mon mari, et ce serait horrible si rien d'autre que mon français de mauvaise qualité n'empêchait quelqu'un d'acheter la meilleure sauce piquante du monde. Ensuite, il est clair que nous avons commis une énorme erreur de marketing.
Nous avons donc pris votre e-mail à cœur. J'ai maintenant offert une page de destination où un client francophone aura la possibilité de traduire Google notre site Web ou de le visiter dans les mots des propriétaires du site.
J'espère que cette solution fonctionne, et j'ai hâte de vous envoyer une bouteille de sauce piquante de votre choix afin de vous remercier pour votre attention. Je recommande personnellement le Hurricane Mash. C'est notre best-seller et Greg le mange tous les jours depuis qu'il a 8 ans.
Nous vous invitons à visiter de nouveau le site Web et à choisir un produit à essayer. Lorsque vous en trouvez un, utilisez le code coupon: Code coupon éffacé