Bonjour or Bonjour/Hi?

by Brianna on December 3, 2017 - 5:54pm

A few weeks ago, the Quebec legislature created a motion that all store clerks must only address customers with "bonjour" instead of "bonjour/hi" which is heard most often in Montreal. The Parti Quebecois argues that far too many store clerks are speaking both French and English to their customers and also points out that "bonjour" is the most perceived word in the French language. The motion originally described the phrase, “bonjour/hi” as being aggravating but Phillipe Couillard believed that phrasing it like that would cause issues between the French and English-speaking communities in Quebec which lead them to rephrase their motion. The house leader of the Parti Quebecois, Pascal Berube, believes that only saying "bonjour" to customers is the right thing to do as "It's about being original and being ourselves, and being ourselves is a major francophone city with an Anglophone community,". Phillipe Couillard stated that although the debate was absurd he also agrees with being greeted by store clerks and store owners in French only. Lioudmila Zoueva, a flower shop owner, feels more comfortable addressing her customers in French not only because speaking English makes her feel uncomfortable but also because saying “Bonjour/hi” is annoying and stupid since “bonjour” is universal and everyone should understand it. On the other hand, many store owners disagree with this motion as it can make customers who do not speak French feel uncomfortable and threatened. Store owner Mokathar speaks multiple languages such as English, French, Greek, Arabic and Urdu, and therefore does not agree with the motion as Canada is a multi-language and multi-cultural society. This motion is also causing store owners to struggle because if they are not doing everything they can in order to make people especially tourist feel more comfortable by addressing them in another language besides French then they can lose both their potential customers and sales. The leader of Quebec’s main English speaking advocacy group, James Shea, states that saying both Bonjour and hi to customers is a sign of acceptance towards the English- speaking community in Quebec.  I believe that store clerks and store owners should continue to address their customers in both French and English because although Quebec is primarily French, there are members of the English community present and also English is the second most spoken language in the world. Therefore, “hi” would be more recognized than “bonjour” when it comes to tourist visiting Quebec who do not come from French-speaking countries. It is important for Quebec to have pride in itself as not only French but also as being English. By having this motion set in place, it is a sign of Quebec not showing itself as being open and accepting of other languages besides its own.


Do you think that store clerks and owners should be allowed to address their customers with Bonjour/Hi instead of just bonjour?


Lowrie, Morgan. “Don't Say 'Hi': Quebec Passes Motion for French-Only Shop Greeting.” CTVNews, 30 Nov. 2017,



Hi! I really like the way you explored this subject because you showed different aspects of the problematic and your writing was direct . As an immigrant that came to Quebec only knowing Spanish and only the basics of English, I think that store owners and clerks should be allowed to address their customers with Bonjour/Hi instead of just bonjour. Think this because when I recall going to the store and the owners would only say Bonjour it would make me panic since I thought they only spoke French. My panic would make me leave the store as fast as possible without really looking at the merchandise. I think that by saying Bonjour/Hi the owners of a store are reaching to a larger public. My question is should we allow owners (or people who work for them) use their other languages to make tourists or buyers feel more accepted/welcomed or at ease? 

I enjoyed reading this post not only because I am a bilingual person, but as an anglophone this topic of discussion in Quebec has gotten to be rather irritating. I don't understand why politicians and the court of law can't simply rule language in the same category as freedom of expression. If a convenience store would like to advertise their name or logo in English, i say go ahead. There are so many bigger issues occurring at this moment, why focus so much on this one. I find it brings so much anger and conflict to our province, compared to others. Francophone people feel so strongly for their language, their beginning to become paranoid that it will be wiped out in the future. Even if french becomes a minority spoken language here, is that that big of a deal? I think if we allowed the freedom to use whatever language we desire to all, Quebec would be a happier society. Is this really an issue that needs to be resolved?

I agree with what youve said and i believe store clerks should greet their customers with bonjour/hi. I know we live in Quebec and the first language is french but, we also live in Canada making Canadas first language english so both languages should be presented. Canada is a multicultural country who is very diversed so i think it is important to allow eveyone to feel equal. If we only presented french, in my opinion it makes Canada seem weak. The more we are diverved, the more we should consider others. If we only present one language it makes it unfaur for everyone else. Being that we live in Canada i belive it is important to present both languages so everyone can understand and feel welcomed.

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