Montreal, the Cosmopolite

No other city than Montreal reminds me more of my life spent speaking two languages. No other city than Montreal is more accepting of my French.

In Montreal I am free to speak either French or English knowing that nobody will ask me where I am from.

Years ago when I visited the capital of Quebec for the first time, the city seemed split in two with people who didn’t address you in French in some shops or restaurants or in English in others depending on some kind of secret code.

In 2011, it is obvious that the two languages cohabit as two old neighbors who sometimes annoy each other but can’t live without each other and somehow have managed to become good friends.

Perhaps it is because in 2011, many more languages are spoken in Montreal than English and French.  Perhaps it is also because, regardless of the language they speak people go to the same cafés and ride the same métro, shop in the same stores and eat in the same restaurants, listen to the same music and watch the same movies, and are ultimately citizens of the same city more than English or French speakers.

Bookstores in Montreal are especially the proof of a successful cohabitation between the two major languages spoken here.  Books in French and English sit next to each other and staff’s recommendations come in both languages as well.

In Montreal I’m not embarrassed to have an accent. Everyone has one.

In Montreal, neither my native French nor my acquired English try to boss each other around.  Instead, they operate on a 24/7 switch mode that reminds me that I belong for a few days to a city where people embrace their French heritage and English influence with equal affection, and open up to many more languages that will over the years give a new texture to the already unique French and English spoken in Montreal.







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