Earlier this month, members of Quebec’s Cultural Identity Board met to discuss and plan how they could make Quebec’s unique French-Canadian culture more accessible to all citizens, especially new Canadians. The ultimate goal is to make conversational French the only language spoken in Quebec. One method of achieving this goal, as discussed by the board, is to change the “Arrêt” sign to say “Whoa Tabarnak.”
Gatineau Cultural Identity representative, Gilles LeDouche spoke on the issue: “The ‘Arrêt’ sign is a major issue for us here in Quebec. It is a literal translation of the English ‘Stop’ sign. We can’t have the English language creeping in and corrupting our culture,” declared LeDouche. “To replace it, we suggest changing it to say ‘Whoa, Tabarnak’ because how many times have you been driving with your friends in the car and they tell you to ‘Arrêt’? None. They all say ‘Whoa Tabarnak’ if you need to stop and that’s the sort of representation that we want in Quebec.”
The Quebec provincial government estimated the cost of changing the signs to be $6 million, which is less expensive than when KFC was lobbied to change “KFC” to “PFK” in Quebec only.
“The KFC-PFK change is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about. If [the government] is not going to let us separate, then at least let us name things the way we want them to be named,” says LeDouche. “Casual swearing is part of Quebec’s culture much like smoking and bad driving. We’re also trying to appeal to the newcomers to Quebec. They see a sign saying ‘Whoa Tabarnak’ and maybe they’ll think ‘Quebec is the place for me’.”