Sunday, May 08, 2011
So it's been a few more days since the election and the NDP's new MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau has finally given her first interview. It's available on this page, and is almost entirely in English. However, she does give a demonstration of her French in the interview, and it's not too bad. If you want to hear the part where she speaks French it's near the end at about this point:
In a country like Canada (especially in the east) "I can't speak French" can mean anywhere from I don't speak a word of French to my French is only partially proficient. With other languages people tend to overrate themselves: I speak Chinese/Korean/Japanese often ends up meaning I can introduce myself and order a beer...unless of course you're ethnically Chinese/Korean/Japanese/etc. and then a partial proficiency is at least expected but very rarely appreciated.
The rest of the interview shows her to be nervous and still very new, and there is a lot of silence and many awkward pauses, but there's nothing there that one expects to be still an issue after a year or two. If she keeps her head down, works on her French and learns the rules of the game, there's no reason why she should still stand out. It's actually interesting that her election will result in one more French speaker than if a fluent French speaker had been elected, since that will be her first priority and within a few months or years she will fully enter the ranks of the fully bilingual.