Walmart to take Quebec to court over need for bilingual signs

Great news for shoppers in Quebec who can't find the nearest Walmart: The multi-national, multi-billion-dollar company could soon have its overly-English name changed to French for your convenience.

The Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise (OQLF) is demanding several major international companies change their names in Quebec to suit a new interpretation of the province's French protection laws.

Stores such as Walmart, Gap and Costco — the three horsemen of English imperialism — have been told their brand names are no longer acceptable and must either change them into French or add a French tag line to their signs.

The OQLF has suggested Walmart, for example, change its name in Quebec to "Le Magasin Walmart," which translates to "The Walmart Store."

That should clear things up.

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The Canadian Press reports that these companies are not entirely thrilled at the new interpretation and are taking the Quebec government to court over the demand to change their names.

Section 63 of Quebec's French Language Charter says that company names must be in French, but until earlier this year it was not being enforced against trademarked names.

Presumably the OQLF believes it is acting in the best interest of the Francophone community, and not just batting at hornet's nests in an ongoing fight to rid the province of the English scourge.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has already changed to "Poulet Frit Kentucky" in Quebec. But its name is almost an entire sentence and not just a jargon-laden scrabble like Costco or Walmart.

The names of most international companies are nonsense anyway. Walmart doesn't mean anything in English that it doesn't mean in French. Someone would be hard-pressed to explain how the name Costco is doing the English language any favours.

Sure, Gap is an English word… but not really in the way the clothing store uses it.

The demand for name change came before the Parti Quebecois formed government, but they are certainly not backing away from it. You may recall how one minister announced upon forming government that workers should not be forced to speak both English and French.

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Out of the other side of its mouth, the government is insisting that companies that don't find it necessary to attract customers in both languages should be forced to make their signs bilingual anyway.

What's good for the goose is good for the oie (French word for goose), non?

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