French used by 72 percent of small businesses in Montreal. Or 69 percent.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Je me souviens - 'Mihi commemoro'.

Here's the article on a poll and report that just came out today:

The poll, by the firm Léger & Léger, pegged French as the working language 72 per cent of the time.


On the West Island, the numbers were somewhat different.

Just under one-third of respondents, 30 per cent, said they used English as a matter of course whenever they were shopping.

Of the remainder, 48 per cent opted for French; 21 per cent said they did not know; and one per cent said they used another language.

The survey was released at the start of a one-day event exploring the use of French in businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

Such businesses are not subject to the provisions of the Charter of the French Language - a bone of contention with French-language hawks in Quebec.

A 53-page report on the use of French in small business, authored by Pierre Bouchard, was issued simultaneously by the Office québécois de la langue francaise.

"French is the principal language of the vast majority of small business in Quebec, 86 per cent, while only 69 per cent of the small businesses on the island are in the same situation," according to Bouchard.

50 employees seems to be a bit of a high cutoff point though. I've never really thought of companies with around 30 or 40 or so employees to be particularly small. Here's a link with the average company size per country:

Country Employees per firm
France 33.2
USA* 25.6
Germany* 17.7
Portugal* 17.4
Denmark 15.2
Canada 15.2
NZ 13.7
Finland 13.0
Italy* 10.0
Netherlands 5.8
NZ 5.6

So in Quebec for language purposes a company is considered small as long as it has under three times the average company size. Do French language advocates have a point here? And since I've never read much into the issue, what numbers are the majority of them (that is, not including the hawkish of the hawks) proposing instead of 50 as the minimum?


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