Performing Québec

Old Con seems to be pretty predictably on script.

Actually, it crossed my mind to say about him what John does occasionally about black woke BLM types, that they are performing their static outrage, static because things are not going to change, and if things did their spiel would have to reflect it, in which case they would have little left to say.

The reason I allow myself this bit of ad hominen characterization is because Con knows that Canada is an elite accommodation, that the official version of the country is just that, the official version, that the mass of CDN Anglophones are never going to be bilingual (in French anyway), but that the surface of interaction must reflect the pretence that both languages are equal. This is because the processes of diglossia and bilingualism are not going to be deeply affected by legislation or by official pretence. Infrastructure vs superstructure.

In particular I disagree with his claim that the Québec elite made a good-faith promise to have a bilingual Canada, and that they have “betrayed” that deal.

No, Con: no one ever imagined by that all of Canada was going to become bilingual. That bit of work was intended for the hard-working elite interlocuters, translators among them, who grease the creaky wheels of officialdom. And whence the sudden concern for poor unilingual francophones in Québec? Crocodile tears, I say. Let them stay unilingual. That’s their business, that of Québécois on the street, not a constitutional issue. And my experience as an anglophone in Q has been that for a half-century is that it is a great place, not a source of oppression. In fact most of the young in Montreal, anglophones and allophones leading, are bilingual and comfortable with it.

Put another way, Québec is no more likely to change than say South Dakota, Wyoming or … Lousiana. The secret to successful governing is allowing for variegated accommodation among diverse constituencies (did I write that?). There is huge assymetry in Canadian society, but the Q seem to understand that, as far as language goes, and have learned to get the most out of it they can. Unitarian Canuck nationalists, who can be sometimes preoccupied with Québec, want instead to iron out imperfections and wrinkles, most of which are pro forma.

All this to say that I am not worried about Q becoming a renegade province within the orbit of the capacious Canadian constitution, a wad of sticky flypaper if ever there was one.

That Zemmour is certainly a nasty piece of work, alright.

I had forgotten about Ellison’s quip, so long ago since I read it. Beautiful.

Of course I can detect traces of Lasch in your disappointment about John having based the last Bears Mentioning with a SNL skit, rather than something real …. Certainly a “secular” tendency which is rampant these days, secular in the sense of “generational”. John is at least writing in that context as an editorialist rather than as an educator. What I too dislike is the mass infusion of popular culture into education, e.g. vampire movies serving as target of “cultural analysis” — a “hook” to use your word.

Snag the young and innocent with allusions to what they already know, unload your message, and send them on the way with no further effort to understand. What ever happened to having to learn new material? OK, it you want, talk about vampires but try to include some geography and history in the discussion. Where has that Stoff come from? Etc.

But I’m an old fart. Generations pass. The sun also rises. A sentiment which Con betrays in his last sentence.

Translating Sayings

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


How did I realize that this is the right translation of

 علاج واقعه پیش از وقوع باید کرد

درمان هر واقعه باید مقدم بر وقوع آن باشد.

The remedy of any event should precede it happening.

My Own Thoughts on “Systemic” Racism

The definitive evidence of “systemic” racism is that we all systematically refer to “race” in these discussions. A concept which has no objective, scientific basis. 

In other words, race is emic, not etic.

Boas’s presumption is wrong. Science and reason do not sway the public assumption that races exist.

“If our life experience has taught us anything, it is that continuing a pattern of ‘race-consciousness’ does not cure racism. It merely perpetuates it.” Larry Purdy, Getting Under the Skin of “Diversity”: Searching for the Color-Blind Ideal 


Does anyone actually believe that white male racists are non-embodied?

Delco and Mare of Easttown

Most of what follows comes from and also the trivia section of the IMDB entry on Mare of Easttown

Critics and viewers have praised the series and Winslet for convincingly replicating one of the varieties of the Philadelphia regional accent, an oddity in mainstream media. The specific accent is known as the “Delco accent”, after Delaware County to the west of Philadelphia.[41]

After three episodes, Saturday Night Live created a segment called ‘Murder Durder’, spoofing the show’s Philadelphian accents and plot points. The cast and crew found it hilarious and were very flattered

One of the only productions to attempt the Philadelphia accent, much less master it. The cast received universal acclaim for their portrayal of the harsh Philadelphia sound; notoriously known as one of the hardest accents ever to imitate. The production was so committed to having authentic accents that dialect coach Susan Hegarty was the second person hired after Kate Winslet. The vowel sounds are so wildly inconsistent from word to word that linguistic professor Betsy Sneller suggested that it is easier to go over each word individually. “It’s really, really difficult to learn even in a natural language setting, so the fact that Kate Winslet [and the cast are] doing it is very, very impressive.” Craig Zobel recalled that Winslet would show up to set with her script completely covered in markings of the specific vowel sounds.

All 7 episodes were shot at the same time. Craig Zobel had to continually check with the script supervisor to figure out what part of the story the episode was, and what certain characters knew. When production was halted due to COVID, a significant amount of rewriting had to be done, to limit the amount of people on set. Zobel credited Kate Winslet with guiding the production on how to maintain a safe work environment, after consulting with Scott Z. Burns, following their collaboration on the pandemic film Contagion (2011).

Production began in October 2019 and continued until March 13, 2020, when COVID restrictions forced filming to cease, mere weeks away from completion. In what was originally envisioned as a six-week break, production was delayed for several months until September. For the cast, they had to continually rehearse their accent, for fear of losing the specific Delco accent. When filming resumed, the scenes took almost double the time to film, due to the extra precautions required. Craig Zobel estimated that 50% of the script had to be rewritten in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

added note:


Mwen konnen sèlman kreyòl  liv

With our friend and colleague Stephen Arnold in Guadeloupe at the 1993 African Lit Association. The occasion was the presentation of the Fonlon-Nichols Award to the Cameroonian – Ivoirien novelist and playwright Werewere Liking.

I had composed a short statement in the best Guadeloupean Kreyol I could muster.  I mustered well enough to have been sorely embarrassed when, afterwards, Guadeloupeans began speaking at me in it.

Regrèt, mwen konnen sèlman kreyòl  liv, I had to say in my pitiful Haitian-inflected Kreyol:

Sorry, All I know is book creole.