“What of the sexism in the first line of the French version of ‘O Canada’?”


There are many reasonable arguments against changing the lyrics to ‘O Canada’ to make them gender-neutral. This, from today’s editorial in the Globe, isn’t one of them:

But what of the sexism in the first line of the French version, a version that dates from 1880 and has never been changed? O Canada! Land of our forefathers.” Were there no foremothers? Forebears doesn’t really work, because it sounds like four bears.

Er, the word they’re referring to and translating as “forefathers” is aïeux. Had they run this line of argument by a Francophone, they would have quickly discovered aïeux is a gender-neutral word—think “ancestors” rather than “forefathers.”

And “forebears” only sounds like “four bears” in English, which, inconveniently for the Globe, is not the language in which the French version of the anthem is usually sung. In French, “forebears” sounds like, well, like aïeux.


“What of the sexism in the first line of the French version of ‘O Canada’?”

  1. Forebears doesn't really work, because it sounds like four bears.

    Dear God, did they really write that in an editorial that wasn't intended to be comedy?

    Perhaps the Globe should let people who actually speak French write their editorials about the sexist nature of the French anthem.

    • I can't figure out if it's supposed to be a joke and I've unwittingly made myself the butt of it.

      • There's nothing worse than being the butt of a crack like that…

    • You mean the original Canadian anthem!!!

    • 'people who actually speak French' writing editorials in Canada suggests we use people from France. Imagine editorials written in clumsy ethnic Quebecois talking about sex!

      • Yeah, just imagine what would happen if we let those backwoods habitants publish their own newspapers.

  2. The "four bears" line in the G&M editorial was a joke, right? Please tell me it was a joke.

  3. What's wrong with being sexy?

  4. Things like this just make the Globe seem so ursinine.

    • Puns are like potato chips – you can't stop at just one.

  5. I'm just really glad your Star Trek pic didn't include any Kling-ons.

      • Oh good. Cheeky comments like that can really clog up the whole thread.

  6. Thanks for that, boys. My daily laugh.

      • That last one really stunk.

        • Yeah, sort of plumbing the depths here. Sewery.

          • Just had to squeeze one last bit out didn't you… always having to have the last turd.

  7. Wait a second, shouldn't we all just be rejoicing at the fact that, for once we have tangible proof that a Canadian national institution 9i.e. our anthem) doesn't translate well into English? I mean, if it were the other way around…

  8. OK everybody, here's the transliteration of the Inuktitut version of Oh Canada. I'm not sure if there's anything sexist in there, but you sure have to admire its economy of words.

    Uu Kanata! nangmini nunavut!
    Piqujatii nalattiaqpavut.
    Nangiqpugu, Uu Kanata,
    Uu Kanata! nunatsia!
    Nangiqpugu mianiripluti,
    Uu Kanata, salagijauquna!

  9. Oh wait, I know the answer to this one! As the comment thread about the Olympic Opening Ceremony taught us, it's rude to remind Western Canadians that French Canada exists!

    Or something.

  10. I love the Star Trek photo of the new bald white Randy and Simon on American Idol.

    Simon: "Nicky, you not only sang that anthem slower than 16 RPMs on an old record player; you sang it slower than a dead roadkill beaver."

  11. The Unofficial Revised Cananthem

    O Canada! Our Home and cherished land!
    True patriot love in all us thou command.

    With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
    The True North strong and free!

    From far and wide, O Canada,
    we stand on guard for thee.
    Nous gardons notre terre glorieuse et libre!

    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee;
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

  12. OK wow ur all imature les perrsones francais (french ppl) all died for canada 2! mon dieu like who is so racist to ppl in thier own countrires

  13. Stupid french pea soup bastard shut er

  14. U just proved my point!

  15. They could have just use a reliable English to French translation company to avoid such mistake, besides such kind of service isn’t that expensive.

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