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Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

Milwaukee, WI
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Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

I am really looking at doing like 4 or 5 nights in Montreal, just was wondering if it is a problem if we don't speak any French??..Are most people bilingual??...or are there parts of town that are tough to get around?...thanks

Chicago, IL
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1. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

Most of the people we encountered in Montreal were bilingual, most of the restaurants had English menus, the metro had signs in English. Still it's always useful knowing some of the language, like the word for exit (sortie), greetings (bonjour/bonsoir for good day/ good evening), days of the week, open/closed (ouvert/ferme). A good guide book should have the basics.

Old Montreal
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2. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

Montreal is a bilingual city. I know some English-speaking Montreal natives that can hardly speak any French.

It is sometimes convenient to speak or understand French in Montreal because most outdoors signs are in French, but the reality is that beneath that surface, most people are bilingual - some people have really succeded in presenting Montreal as an anglo-hater city: it is not the case. As long as you are willing to accept that you are in a foreign country and that some things are not the same as at home, you should be fine.

PS: Montreal is very safe by US standards. Enjoy yourself!

Old Montreal
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3. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

PS - I like people from Milwaukee - you pretty much have the same weather as we do!

Surrey, Canada
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for Quebec City, Quebec, Montreal, The Netherlands
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4. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

Montreal used to be called the 2nd biggest French-speaking city after Paris. I do not know if if was ever true, but certainly not for the last 20 years. You will encounter no problems at all.

As is the case in every foreign country, a few basic words in the local language always work a long way, and show courtesy from tourists that is always appreciated. (s il vous plait -- please, merci -- thank you, etc).

Enjoy your stay in Montréal !

Milwaukee, WI
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5. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

that is great to hear...we are very fired up to be visiting Montreal...I can pick up the 20-30 words fairly easy (basics)..but if otherwise it's easy to get around that is great, thanks for everyone's insight..

Vermont
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6. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

In almost all the places we go to in Montreal, the hostess, sales associate, or what have you say "bonjour hi".....Say hi back and you'll get english. You'll have no problems. As an above poster mentioned, it's good to know the basics though....

Montreal
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7. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

You should be aware that language is a favourite topic of debate here in Québec, with the French exclaiming how threatened their language is and pointing to a history of economic domination by the English, and the English proclaiming how their rights are being trampled on and how intolerant the French are.

But it's rhetoric -- in practical terms, there are no problems, and Montreal is incredibly bilingual. And as a tourist, of course, you have special status and no-one expects you to speak French. As you go further west on the island, things get more English; as you go east, it gets more French. Outside of Montreal, except in a few pockets, it's pretty much French only, so take your phrasebook with you.

Montreal
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8. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

Montreal is a bilingual city. I know some French-speaking Montreal natives could hardly speak English, but that doesn't matter, you can get along in the City very well. I think Tristou has very nicely answered all your questions.

Old Montreal
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9. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

Re: previous post -

Isn't that an amazing concept? - Some of the native French speakers may be unable to speak a foreign language. I think that the most relevant statement to the initial question is the fact that some native English speakers manage (quite easily at that) to remain unilingual in a city perceived by foreigners as "French".

Montreal
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10. Re: Is it a problem at all if you don't speak any French?

ref. ppp

I used the same sweeping statement and switched one word i.e., from English to French. Since both are official languages of Canada and as mentioned in the ppp 'Montreal is a bilingual city' so it applies both ways! And I wonder why the other half worry so much about how the other half lives? So, its a matter of perception, whether the glass is half empty or half full?