Power of Babel

One of my kids brings me a form received from the Health Department of the Centre of the Universe (aka City of Toronto). Toronto is in Canada – officially a bilingual country (English and French in case you care). Said form is accompanied by a legal sized piece of yellow paper with the following note printed boldly across the top:

This is an important message.

Take this form to someone who can read English.

OK, fair enough – almost. Since Canada is bilingual, why isn’t the message to take the form to someone who can read English or French.

Oh, the message is in French just below that … and then it’s repeated in:

Chinese
Greek
Italian
Korean
Polish
Portugese
Spanish
Somali
Tamil
Ukranian
Vietnamese
Russian
Czech
Urdu
Preshto
Twi
Hindi
Punjabi
Macedonian
Romanian
Farsi
Khmere
Arabic
Gujarati

I wonder what happens if you’re German or Scandinavian? All the German and Scandinavian people I know speak English.

The rest of the message (presumably in each language because I don’t understand them all) is that you need to fill in the form with details of your child’s immunization. If you need help … call the Immunization Infoline. “When you call, tell the person who answers the phone what language you speak. They will get an interpreter on the phone” – assuming they understand you, I suppose.

Now I have nothing against immigrants – I’m one myself. What vaguely troubles me is that my taxes are being used to provide services in a zillion languages which are not ‘official languages’ in Canada. And if one service is provided in all of these languages, then am I going to hear claims of discrimination when other services are only available in English and French? And will that extra service result in an increase in my taxes. I wonder …

Final score
Not known at this time. Presently the score is 26 different languages. Next week – who knows how many?

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