In my last posting I spoke about francophones and used the pronoun “we.”
Okay, where I live, in east Montreal, no one would call me a francophone. I moved to Montreal when I was 19 and learned French as I worked my way up in society, from retail sales to writing.
Today I speak French almost without an accent.
But here in Quebec, it’s origins that count, and I’m still English. There’s no stigma to it, but when you spend as much time speaking French as I do, it does fell like a bit of a put down.
Strangely, in France, I’m a francophone. I lived there a decade ago and my French friends regularly referred to me as francophone. I was rather flattered. Until I figured out that all they meant was: I spoke French well, but I wasn’t French.
Somehow, I can’t help but think: why not liberate the word “francophone” from any association with origins?
English speakers also distinguish between native speakers and others. But at least they have to make more of an effort, using clunky phrases like “native English-speaking” or “speaks English as a mother tongue”.
French-speakers have a great compact word: francophone. It could mean the same thing for everyone who speaks French, non? People who speak French well and understand French-language culture should think of themselves as francophones, period.