Quebec language police duck fight against Italian restaurant

Protesters opposing language Bill 14 demonstrate outside the office of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois in Montreal, …Spaghetti slingers take note: You may be welcome in Quebec, after all.

Quebec's language watchdog is retreating from a battle against an Italian restaurant over the number of Italian words in their menu.

Those tricky Italians. Always trying to slip their language into things. Like Italian restaurant menus.

CBC News reports that Buonanotte, a high-end Montreal restaurant, was contacted by the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise (OQLF) because it was using too many words like "pasta" and "meatball."

It's almost a shame that they realized they had crossed the line, because I would have loved to be the first to tell them.

[ Related: Quebec language police to reconsider case against Italian eatery ]

First, it's Italian restaurants and next it's Swedish massage parlours and Asian fusion restaurants. Before long, the OQLF will be coming after English Canadian restaurants for not offering a French translation for "poutine."

As the Montreal Gazette's Don Macpherson writes:

What a bunch of rubes. And not just the patron who could afford to eat at a pricey restaurant that is popular with Grand Prix camp followers, but who expected the names of the dishes on the menu in that Italian restaurant to be en français s’il vous plaît.

You can hear the laughter from Toronto, and beyond.

[ More Brew: Walmart to take Quebec to court over need for bilingual signs ]

It likely was not the best time to pick such a ridiculous battle. Quebec anglophones are already up in arms over the governing Parti Quebecois' plans to strengthen the province's language laws.

Last year, Walmart took the government agency to court after it demanded the company change its signs to read "Le Magasin Walmart," which translates to "The Walmart Store."

That case is expected to go to court in the spring. In the case of Italian restaurants, however, it seems the language police have bit off more that they can chew.