Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Quebec language cops can't look past 'pasta' on menu

  • Print

MONTREAL -- Mamma Mia! The word "pasta" is a little too Italian for Quebec's language cops.

They'd prefer something more in the language of Molière than Michaelangelo when it comes to menus, even in Italian restaurants.

"Pasta" wasn't the only word that left a sour taste when they recently chewed over the menu at Buonanotte, a trendy Italian restaurant in Montreal. There were several other words that didn't have enough of a French flavour for the Office québécois de la langue franßaise.

For example, the agency says "bottiglia," which is Italian for bottle, should be "bouteille" on the wine list. Using "calamari" instead of the French word for squid is also a little fishy.

The restaurant's owner couldn't believe it when he got a letter from the agency pointing out the transgressions.

"We were taken aback by it," said Buonanotte owner Massimo Lecas on Wednesday.

Buononotte is a high-profile Montreal eatery that has catered to a host of sports and entertainment stars, including Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Céline Dion, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Brian Mulroney have also dined there, but it wasn't immediately clear if Premier Pauline Marois has ever been a customer. It also has a restaurant in Toronto under the same name.

Controversy was the flavour of the day Wednesday as people stewed on social media over the intervention from the Office inspectors, who were dubbed "tongue troopers" back in the darker days of Quebec's language battles.

At least two Twitter trends, including one called "pastagate" were created where people left biting comments.

"There's currently some beef between me and the PQ," tweeted Quebec Pasta.

The Office recently received a six per cent budget increase for this year, following a flare-up in political attention paid to language. The PQ drove much of that discussion while in Opposition, and has tabled a new language law, although the legislation is milder than expected.

The Office budget now stands at $24.7 million.

But on Wednesday, even the Parti Québécois suggested the agency had gone too far.

Diane De Courcy, the minister responsible for the language law, tweeted she was "amazed" at the situation: "I'm going to have someone look into this to see what happened," she also told reporters in Quebec City.

The PQ minister responsible for Montreal, Jean-Franßois Lisée, said with a chuckle: "I think it's overdone. I'll have a chat with Mme De Courcy about that."

Martin Bergeron, a spokesman with the Office, said in an interview he was surprised by the "intensity" of the online outrage. "But I can understand that from the social media point of view, the word that got out is that the Office went out for only one word," he said.

"It would be nonsense and that's how it's looked at."

Lecas said his restaurant hasn't had a language complaint in the 22 years it's been open and he's handling the controversy with a sense of humour. "We've all had bigger battles," he said. "It's not something that I know is a life-or-death situation. It's something that we'll handle."

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2013 A12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jets This Week: Quarter Season Analysis

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060710 The full moon rises above the prairie south of Winnipeg Monday evening.
  • June 25, 2013 - 130625  -  A storm lit up Winnipeg Tuesday, June 25, 2013. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press - lightning

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government force band chiefs and councillors to disclose their salary information?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google