Faire smashy-smash or fucking shit up? The complications of bilingual profanity

Strong Language

Il est interdit de faire smashy smash. It is forbidden to fuck shit up. Il est interdit de faire smashy-smash.
It is forbidden to fuck shit up.

In the summer of 2013, long before Strong Language was even a glimmer in anyone’s fucking eye, I snapped the picture above on a street in Montreal. I encountered it near Concordia, but I’m not sure where the sticker itself came from: google suggests that it’s been stuck in at least two other places which also look like they could be Montréalais. And when this blog finally came around, I finally remembered it and knew I had a fucking opportunity.

First of all, there’s the sociolinguistic context of Montreal bilingualism, where even unofficial signs are often in both official languages: I’ve spotted homemade bilingual signs looking for lost cats, requesting that bikes not be chained to private railings, and declining flyers in mailboxes. In a city where over half of people are bilingual, one language might suffice, but if you speak both…

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