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Lindsay Gallimore

Lindsay Gallimore
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Bilingual Billboards: Kudos to CTV

Published by lindsay_gallimore@sympatico.ca on 2011-10-20

Driving along Notre-Dame, on my way to the Ville-Marie Tunnel (in which I instincitvely duck, as if that would save me from a falling block of concrete), an awesome billboard caught my eye. It was an advertisement for CTV news, the anchors posing proudly under the slogan "What's nous?" I must say chapeau to the advertising exec who came up with that. It just says so much all at once.


CTV is an English-language station, there's no doubt. But their slogan says, "Hey, we know we're in Québec, we know French is important." The language used in advertising has such a huge impact, and translating advertising is a fine art. I know this isn't a translation, but I just think it's so clever and meaningful. Is it a savvy strategy to get around Bill 101? I'm not sure. It seems to me that there are plenty of signs around town in English, so I am kind of confused as to how much Bill 101 is enforced anyway. In fact, further down the road, I saw a billboard for CBC entirely in English.


While on the subject of advertisements, I don't know about the rest of you bilinguals, but I tend to watch TV (keep in mind, I only get 5 channels with my rabbit ears, but they're free!) equally in French and in English. As much as we all hate the commercial breaks, I can at least enjoy them from an academic perspective. I love to see how the different commercials are translated, and sometimes completely adapted for the French-speaking and English-speaking Québec population. I am going to think of some specific examples to share, but in the meantime, let me know if there are any that have caught your interest... and for that matter, what about film titles? Sometimes I think the translated titles of American films are just atrocious! (Real Steel is, by all acounts, a terrible movie, with an already cheesy title in English, but I just think Gants d'acier is even cheesier!)