Newspaper article The Canadian Press

American Researcher Offers Theory on Trudeau's 'Bad' French: It's Not

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

American Researcher Offers Theory on Trudeau's 'Bad' French: It's Not

Article excerpt

Researcher offers theory on Trudeau's 'bad' French


MONTREAL - Quebec's media elites are unfairly criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's spoken French because they see him as an outsider pretending to be a real Quebecois, an American academic argues in new research.

Journalists will forgive Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer's mangled pronunciations or former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's use of Anglicisms but Trudeau is held to an unrealistic standard, according to Prof. Yulia Bosworth of Binghamton University in New York.

Her article, "The 'Bad' French of Justin Trudeau: When Language, Ideology, and Politics Collide," was published in the most recent issue of the American Review of Canadian Studies. The author analyzed 53 online news items, mostly between April 2013 and January 2017, that discussed Trudeau's linguistic abilities or those of other federal politicians.

Bosworth, a self-professed "lover" of Quebec, discovered a near-unanimous chorus of criticism by journalists regarding the quality of Trudeau's French, which she says suggests they are using language as a way of attacking his identity.

She chose to focus on prominent Quebec journalists -- mostly francophone -- because they have historically been "agenda-setters" in Quebec society and who have an established role of positioning themselves at the centre of the conversation on what is the correct use of the French language.

"A lot of the things he is being blamed for are the things francophone Quebecers are themselves doing on a regular basis," said the professor, who teaches French linguistics, specializes in North American French and studies how language and society intersect.

On an linguistic level, the claim that Trudeau doesn't speak French well is simply untrue, Bosworth said in an interview Wednesday.

Moreover, Trudeau speaks French with virtually no accent, she said, and sounds like a regular Quebecer. …

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