'Grilled cheese', 'leggings' just fine with Quebec language police

OQLF

A stealth change made by the Office Québécois de la langue française at the start of 2017 is not sitting well with everyone.

Following a conference held in Quebec City last fall, the OQLF approved some Anglicisms that have made their way into the French language, becoming more popular than their French counterparts.

It is now acceptable for you to go out and enjoy a "cocktail" while eating a "grilled cheese" in a pair of "leggings" and watching your favourite tennis player hit a spectacular "smash" on TV.

Prior to 2017 that night out would have involved "un coquetel" while eating a "sandwich au fromage au fondant" in a pair of "collant sans pieds" and watching your favourite tennis player hit a spectacular "coup d'écrasement."

Danielle Turcotte, Director General of Linguistic Services at the OQLF, told Le Devoir this week the change in policy was in part because some of the accepted French equivalents of an English term were simply not popular enough to make their way into the mainstream vernacular.

The change has not been sitting well with everyone, including one former OQLF employee who is very critical of the move.

Former researcher Jacques Maurais called the English borrowing "voluntary enslavement" and accused his former employer of abandoning its responsibilities.

Turcotte said when a new term is questioned the OQLF continues to rush to find or create a French equivalent. But in some situations of long-standing borrowing — such as a restaurant using the term grilled-cheese or pasta on a menu — the English expression will now be accepted whereas in the previous policy, written in 2007, it was strictly condemned.