Saturday, November 21, 2009
There's Just Something about an Accent
I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Montreal, Canada. Although, it was primarily a business trip, I got to visit a lot of the city and fell in love with its culture and antiquity.
Montreal is actually an island named for the triple-peaked hill, Mount Royal (or Mont Réal as it was spelled in Middle French,) that lies in its center. The area is estimated to have been occupied for at least 2000 years before the arrival of Europeans. The French explorer Jacques Cartier found a village of over a thousand St. Lawrence Iroquoians residing on the island when he arrived in the area in 1535. It has been continuously occupied since and is now the second largest city in Canada.
Although modern skyscrapers, hotels, and casinos can be seen across the the island, Montreal has managed to maintain its air of antiquity in the older quarter of town. There, many of the older, European buildings are historic sites and the government has forbidden any changes to their facades. Developers are able renovate the insides of these edifices -- sadly many have been gutted completely to build new offices and condos-- but their outsides preserve the look and feel of this very old French city.
Thankfully, I didn't need to rely on my four years of high school French to navigate the town as many of the residents speak English. In fact, even though French is the official language of Montreal, in some quarters of the island it is treated as a second language with English taking the primary spot. Still, I had a ball trying to translate signs and newspapers while I was there (I'd forgotten how much I loved the language). If I couldn't decipher something, there always seemed to be someone handy to to translate for me.
Why is it that even directions to the taxi stand sound romantic in that wonderful French-Canadian accent? Especially when the man giving the directions looks like Gerard Butler. Yummy.
I definitely need to go there again!