French language descriptors coming to stores near you
Quebec's new language regulations for signage come into effect in three weeks.
As announced earlier this year, the Quebec government will require stores that have English brand names to add a French-language descriptor, slogan, or other explanatory phrase to their signs.
Michel Leblanc, head of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, said stores are unlikely to challenge this legal requirement.
"The main test was will it be socially acceptable, will we continue to have linguistic peace and what we think is that the government achieved that goal," said Leblanc.
There are some specific requirements for the descriptor: it must be in the same visual field as the existing sign, and if the sign is lit, the descriptor will have to be lit as well.
The descriptor will also have to be a permanent sign - not just something temporary.
"What the government announced in May and now what we see in writing is an approach that says you can use your international brand, your brand in English if that's what you want but please also speak to the population in French," said Leblanc.
Robert Vezina of the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise said the overall impact is to have store signage reflect Quebec's society.
"The main effect will be that you will find more French in the public signs and posters around Quebec so this is something significant. Anytime you will see a trademark in another language than french, you will see French," said Vezina.
Stores will have until Nov. 24, 2019 to comply with the regulations, and they will not be getting any handout from the provincial government to make the change.
Stores that are not complying by then will face fines of $1500 to $20,000.
The new regulations come after the OQLF tried and failed to force stores with internationally trademarked English names to translate their brands into French.
Multiple corporations fought that proposal in court, and won, triggering the legal change to descriptors that comes into effect on Nov. 24.