Queermunicative Repertoires: A Conversation on Queer Language

The following piece is modeled after the Communicative Repertoire assignment for Dr. Mela Sarkar’s course EDSL-623- Second Language Learning. 

Retrieved from: https://www.pexels.com/search/cup%20of%20coffee/ Accessed: December 29th, 2018


December 14, 2018, Montreal, QC, Canada: Outside, it is a relatively warm, but wet and slushy afternoon.  Thankfully, we have found ourselves in the warm, cozy confides of Coop le Cagibi at its new home in the Petite Italie neighborhood.   Although I had initially planned to hold one-on-one interviews about queer language, linguistics, and identity, enough people from different walks of life were available at the same date and time; therefore, it made sense to make space for a group conversation.  The conversation consists of the following participants:

  1. Myself, Max: He, they pronouns. L1-English, L2-French. Born-and-raised in Maryland, US. Moved to Montreal for studies and activism. Biracial (mixed- Black and white).
  2. Meg: She, her pronouns. L1- English, L2- French. Originally from Texas, US. Has been in Montreal for 4 years as a student. White.
  3. Ro: They, them pronouns. L1-English, L2- French. Grew up in the American Deep South, but has spent the past several years in Oakland, CA, US. Has lived in Montreal for less than a year, but is already very involved in activism and other activities. White.
  4. Brian: He, his pronouns. L1-English, L2-French. Originally from Vancouver, BC.  Moved to Montreal a few years ago, but has only recently started a degree program. White.
  5. Eden: They, them pronouns. L1 French, L2-English. Quebec native. Student who is very involved with LGBTQ activism. White. They were meeting with a client and was, therefore, not able to join our conversation until a tad later.

The smell of espresso and vegan baked goods wafts through the air. 2018’s Best Album, Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, plays in the background, setting the mood for a discussion on queer pride, solidarity and looking towards the future.  The cups, plates, chairs, tables, and knickknacks are as cohesively mismatched as our group.


*The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length, while staying true to the communicative repertoires of each individual*

Max: All of you have come to Montreal for different reasons and do different things here in the city. What has your experience been as a queer person thus far?

Brian: I’ve lived in Vancouver and I’ve spent a lot of time in Toronto as well so, I mean, compared to those places I would say that, uh, there’s a couple of factors. One is that there’s not, you know, as many…I wouldn’t say there’s not as many, say, people of color or communities with people of color, but it’s also more divided along linguistic lines which kind of makes each group a bit smaller, which means that…

Ro: What do you mean by linguistic lines?

Brian: Well, if they’re English or French-only. So, like, you have a group of…

Ro: In Montreal?

Brian: In Montreal, yes,

Ro: Ok

Brian: So, you have a group of like, English speakers which might but might not necessarily create a space, you know, they would be more likely to be tied to that side of the community, then they are by that than say…I should, I yeah, I mean I’m generalizing a bit, but, cause I have been to say, queer POC spaces that are bilingual as well, but, uh, you know that doesn’t always happen, that, yeah. They tend to be kind of segmented into either the English or the French side, which means that, like I have friends who were coming here from Toronto and they were like “oh when is the POC Night for Pride?” ‘cause they were coming for Pride. I’m like: “Oh good question.  I don’t think there is one.” And, ‘cause you know in Vancouver, Toronto there’d just be a given that there would be something like that. Um so, yeah so, I think that… I wouldn’t say there’s a case that there’s more integration…I wouldn’t say it’s integration, per se, exactly. Um, but, yeah, I’d say that it’s just, yeah, it just tends to be kind of dominated by, especially I would say on the French side, I would say that it tends to be dominated (by white people).

Max: Alright, ummm…

Brian: Unless people… you might have had some other experiences with that, so I’m curious to know if people have had any other experiences.

Max: With, like, POC spaces?

Brian: Yeah

Meg: Yeah, one thing my roommate, they were an intern at _____which is a queer and trans youth organization, over the summer and one thing that they had mentioned is that youth of color who are French speaking would come looking for French resources ‘cause _____is mainly anglophone and then ,like, my roommate is a person of color and they would feel uncomfortable recommending them to some of the French-speaking organizations cause they felt they were pretty white. And so, it seems like, my roommate was saying that, there are like a lack of resources for like, French-speaking youth of colour.

Max: Yeah.

Meg: which is just kind of, I don’t know, I find it’s just like, I don’t know understand why.  But because it’s like immigrants, you have to go to French-speaking schools so, it’s like, if your parents don’t speak English as their first language they’re learning French so…it just seems, like, there should be a lot more resources than there are.

Max: Yeah, I actually just volunteered at _____last night, um, and, um, so, I can say that, yes there are some people of color, like, probably, maybe, more than there used to be, I don’t know cause I just started volunteering there.  But yeah, it’s definitely one of those things where there’s such a… divide I guess, a lot of the time.  And even between, like, between the francophone or predominately francophone kids and then anglophone kids and it’s just um, yeah, and it almost seemed to be divided based on language and also, like interest, there’s like, there’s this one way to be queer and then there’s this other way to be queer.? And it’s like, you know, like, yes, some queer people like playing video games and stuff like that and some queer people don’t and it’s like, yeah, it’s really interesting.?  But yeah, that’s something that I definitely, like want to look more into, is like, yeah, like francophone kids of colour, especially like can be isolating, and I’m just thinking of like, my own experience and it’s like “yeah, yeah, it can feel a little weird, a little… not like intentionally tokenized most times, and sometimes you’re just like….mmmm…ehhh…” Um but yeah, and…. there’s something else that I was thinking about… oh yes, something else that I wanna that I have heard about and I think I want to research more on this is, so I’m giving, like, correct information is, um…refugees who come from other countries and then if they’re LGBT refugees like coming to Canada because they’re seeking asylum for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity it’s um, like they have to very much follow this script of like “Oh, you have to like to like take a picture of yourself at a Pride parade or doing some like…queer things… and it’s like…very like…it almost seems like LGBT…like the people who made these regulations…like LGBT is like a culture and it’s all like a monolith and in order to be ‘really gay’ or ‘really trans’ you have to be like this and, that’s you know..

Brian: And how can you do that when it’s not safe to do that?

Max: Yeah, yeah.

Meg: Exactly. There’s a good book that I just saw at the library that talks about, like, queer refugees in Canada…which I forget the name of.

Max: I think that even like that single story idea… I mean it’s a huge issue even with like, white transgender people who are looking to medically  and legally transition and this sort of idea that they have to, like, conform to this single story, but then when you’re a queer refugee there’s this extra layer of like “oh, and all of a sudden, you’re just going to like be this completely new identity and this identity of LGBT means this, that, that and that and it’s like not fair and especially if they’re like going to queer spaces and they don’t really, like, relate to the people there and stuff like that so…or don’t know the same languages… I mean there’s just a lot that’s like (*flexes neck and bares teeth, indicating discomfort and disagreement*) ” ennhhh” My next question will be more queer linguistics-specific. Does everyone (not including me) here identify as or is cisgender?

*Meg and Brian nod but after a pause Ro shakes her head*

Max: (*Gesturing towards Ro*) So tell us about it.

Ro: Um, I, I like to identify as rheostatic meaning an entire spectrum or uh…gender atheist um, I think that the performative functions of gender are not terribly important in huge urban environments like this and we have kind of a privilege in being this sort of space to be more likely to break out of those molds.  I think that those changes culturally are born and bred in larger environments and I’ve been lucky to have large communities around me um for most of my adult life um.  Yeah, I’ve vacillated over the years from male-passing to lipstick-lesbian identified to… whatever. (*laughs*) that’s kind of where I’m at now.

Brian: I’ve never heard the term rheostatic before.  How would you differentiate that from, say, genderqueer or non-binary?

Ro: So non-binary, for me, means that I’m maybe somewhere shifting in the center and over my lifetime I’ve gone on the extreme of either end and I think genderqueer definitely is in the same realm   as rheostatic, but I find that the term “queer” is often sort of co-opted to mean certain things and that does not sit well with me. (*laughs*) I can’t sleep right *laughs*.  So I just prefer to kind of take my own route.

Max: Yeah, and, likewise, that was actually the first time I’ve heard that term.  It’s really interesting. Does anyone else want to share their experience about language they might use to identify themselves or any sort of good things about language like great experiences with this queer linguistic thing you’ve experienced or not great things that you’ve experienced (such as) having to censor yourself?  Any thoughts on that, feel free to share.

Meg: Yeah, one thing I’ve noticed (since coming here) and it’s difficult, cause, like I moved here from high school and so I wasn’t really out in high school and so, like, my experience with queer community has been in Montreal, but it seems like here, people who call themselves queer are also more involved like, politically and it’s more of- like an overall identity rather than just like, referring to your sexuality.  Just what I’ve noticed.  And you, know there’s like queer movies, queer events and so…yeah, it seems like it’s becoming a new thing.

Brian: Yeah, I don’t know how I would, like, use language to describe myself um…I guess sometimes I feel like there’s…the language is…yeah, like I’ve been out for a long time and language is always changing and sometimes it’s a matter of…(*laughs*) even just a few minutes ago…I’m learning new terms…so, uh you know, and even, like when I first, like came out, like no one was using say they pronouns…like that’s really been the last (pauses) 10 years or so? Um, so you know, there are just things like that… I guess it’s just a matter of adjusting.

Max: And for those of you who have studied the French language: What says you about the French language?  I mean you know it’s very, very gendered.  What’re your feelings about that?  How have you navigated it?  How have people you’ve known maybe navigated that?  How does that compare to English?  Or what are things you find to be really cool about the French language or how the French language is evolving?  Any thoughts about that?

Brian: Well sometimes people can get confused, like, if you say mon petit ami, they’ll just assume I’m referring to something different, so, uh, yeah that’s a mistake I make. So, yeah, so that’s the only real issue that I’ve had. I mean in Montreal in most contexts—I tend to be in queer environments where I’ve used French so I don’t really have to explain all that much. Um, and I’ve found that they’ve adopted a lot of English turns, like, you know, queer and gay, are like, basically Anglicisms so…

Max: Yeah, I’m gonna pause right there

*We are joined by Eden, a non-binary trans person from Quebec.  Unlike the rest of folks present, their L1 is French. I noticed that Eden sometimes used the word France when they meant French and vice versa*

Max: Alors, on etait en train de parler sur la langue comme, francais, et aussi nos identités et tout ca et comment, bon, comment ca

Eden : Well let’s take a second. French is a messed-up language.

Max: Ok *laughs*

Eden: So fucking, like, messed up.  It’s really gendered. I mean, like, just the fact that everything–ok,  a linguist would fight me on this because they would say that grammatical gender is not the same as…physical gender but they are linked. We gender everything in French our gender is male, female where other languages, they are, this is unlimited and French is really, like, gender everything like…  That’s why I like to speak in English more because I can be, like, I don’t have to gender myself, I can be neutral I can be…when you say your pronoun in (French) the gig is up…it’s done. You don’t have, like, you will never, like I can use your name, I can say Max the whole sentence: Max, Max, Max, Max, Max, Max without gender you. I can say: “Max is a student Max is happy. Max is tall.” But in French I have to gender you, in everything.  Usually when we do grammar in French we have to not say our pronoun but our…what kind of gender that we like to mark that we use and for non-binary people it’s a mess.  When I started my transition, I asked people to do both, to include, but…after two years, I’ve sort of given up on that on people, like I’ve just want people to not gender me to the masculine. Like, cause I just gave up, because, they say “oh this is too complicated.” Like I had a teacher who asked “well, yeah, but, this is so difficult.“ And so there’s no consensus on how to have it be natural, even though we used to have natural gender in French, by the way, because ,like, Latin is…in Latin they have three gender; male, female and indeterminate.

Brian: Can you explain with the indeterminate gender, like, how do they conjugate adjectives?

Eden: Well, first, in Latin, everything, you conjugate everything, every fucking thing

Brian: Do you know how it works in Latin, like what do they say?

Eden: Do you know what epicene mean?  Epicene is something that means not genderfied ever, like, let’s say…like instead of “Max is a student,” I can say: “Max etudie…fais des etudes” which is general. t…a friend of mine tried to give like a gender-neutral trans workshop in light there’s some rule, like with the words that end with “eux” and there were some words there is…some people try to say “euxes” but there’s no consensus now, like, just say…on the pronoun let’s say they are just getting to the fact that iel (i-e-l) is becoming more and more and more and more like, there was like, maybe, like one year ago or so a huge plethora of pronoun that was…that’s why there’s a lot of French queer are going to speak English or going to English space.  Not only that queer is more advanced in the anglophone world—I think there’s no, like second (thought) about that—but also because English offers us a more…neutral— and ever it will make, like a scare the more? kid nationalist? Here. (*putting on exaggerated Canadian anglophone accent*) “oh you speak English?”

Brian: I have a question for you.  Are you from France or Quebec?

Eden: Quebec

Brian: Ok

Eden: Because…and I don’t think I would speak this much good English if I came from French (France). Yes, in French, in France (*pronounced as someone speaking French would say France*) this is a mess, speaking, and also everything, in general, but France is a queer nightmare. Really.  You can’t be too gay in the street and hold your hand to your lover and  “do not speak about those people”. Half of the—I know a lot of French queer who exonerate themselves or seek refuge here. Like, a lot of them.  

Max: (*clarifying question*) Who seek refuge here if they’re queer?

Eden: Yeah. A friend of mine came here because they couldn’t…she was living in the south of France with uber-homophobic, transphobic and she’s a trans woman, so it was not alright. And she was, she was told, like, she was not feminine enough like, it was a metaphor like, she came here, like…if you compare (Quebec) to France—it’s going to be an easy pick.  Like even in the French area here… Like we are starting to speak about non-binary people, but, and these are huge, like, struggle to have a neutral gender mark and, like, I think because in Quebec especially in Montreal, because we are in contact with the anglophone area we are more advanced like and we’ll like know a lot about these kind of issues but the queer francophone space are not really that small. I mean, the gay space are there.  I make a distinction between gay and queer.   I mean the (Gay) Village, buuuuuut…it’s full of white, cis, gay men.  So, and even like, homonationalist people, but the queer is not much and francophone go to the more anglophone area to like escape all the…the nightmare and like, just to say that…like let’s say that the first name change into the university. (Last year) McGill and Concordia did it. UQAM, it took years, they just recently make an arrangement. UdM: shit. Like, so that’s what it is…and I think, personally, that there is more use ever in feminist circles, and to white feminists, I feel like there is less resistance to queerness, like because of some masochistic idea…for me there is more TERFs (*Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) in the francophone area

Max: Wow.  Thank you for sharing that.  That was very, very insightful…I definitely learned something new as well. Um, so, does anyone have any final remarks or thoughts about gender, queer linguistics, life in Montreal? Any other things you want to touch on?

Eden: I is another” “I is another.

Max: (*clarifying question*) “I is another?”

Brian: How do you spell that?

Eden: “I is another?”

Brian: (*clarifying question*) “Is a gender?”

Eden: No.

Meg: (*clarifying question*) (I is) like another pronoun to use?

Eden: No, like another, like is someone else.

Max: (*clarifying question*) “I is another?” I’m not sure I understand.

Brian: (*clarifying question*) Like another pronoun?

Meg: (*clarifying question*) like you’re, like a whole other thing, like…to talk…like you have a lot more to say than just like what you were just talking about like with the French language? Like, it’s a whole other topic to talk about?

Eden: Most like that the, like, the person is speaking with pronoun like, the” I” itself like, someone overcomes certain thing…I think and “I” is another gender or, like, because it mean that when you speak I it’s someone else who is speaking of…

Brian: (*clarifying statement*) You mean you speak from your own perspective.

Eden: Yeah.

Brian: Yeah, instead of cause…I mean I’ve heard some of that stuff about Quebec before but when I say it as an anglophone, you know, that can be, you know, it can be called Quebec-bashing or something, which does happen as well, but, um, I… I guess and that, what you were saying is really interesting and, uh, I mean I think in, you know, French in Quebec it’s a very sensitive topic and I guess I’m wondering, like, do you think that people are, like say the, OQLF would be like, open to that sort of linguistic change, and that people in Quebec are open to embracing linguistic change?

Eden: I think that OQLF would change before French (France).

Brian: Uh-huh.

Eden: Without a…uh…a ghost of a doubt.

Brian: Oh interesting

Eden: Because, like, you know…here in Quebec we are more…flexible to add new term… but in (*in sarcastic, accusatory tone*) France, it’s really, like…and the national Academie Francaise,   it’s really (more) chauvinistic, really dude.

Brian: Hmmm

Eden: So it’s…and they are like…and also they…they are against inclusive writing. Like when you wrote a text, they want to keep, like the masculine, like, standard.  Like, I think that Quebec will change before French (France) like…

Max: Yeah.

Ro: I’m kind of curious …um…it’s not something that I’ve come across here, but I haven’t been here very long. And I’m wondering if people are talking about moving away from the LGBT alphabet and utilizing, let’s say GSM, like Gender and Sexuality Minorities, or diverse gender…or you know, DSG. Is that conversation that’s happening here and (*clapping hands together signaling urgency*) How. Can. We. Make. That. Happen. More?

Brian: That’s such a great topic and I’ve thought, like, about that for so long about, like how I find that, none of the queer terminology really suits me I mean, the only term that I ever wanted to use, I can’t.  It’s ,like, I love the term Two-Spirit which is the Indigenous term, cause I think that’s the only term that does any sort of justice to the sort of queer experience, um, but it’s appropriative to use it, unfortunately so…

Max: Yeah, it’s very, like, yeah I would not use that.

Brian: Can we make a deal (with Indigenous people)?

Max: No we cannot make a deal to appropriate Native identities.  We cannot do that. Ummm, yeah, (*in sing-song-y voice*) let’s not. But I’m sure that there will be more inclusive terminology.

Eden: But ?you can explain this? But I heard there’s a lot in the French non-binarial queer world a term which is MOGAI which is Minorités, d’Orientation et de Genre…Something, Something…MOGAI, I do not remember what it stand for but it’s like “minorities …gender” and “gender, like, marginalized, minorities, like”. And more and more and more I see the term MOGAI in the queer Facebook French space, which is like…not all, but yeah it’s like…yeah…because the LGBTQ we can have, like, every word like that.

Max: So MOGAI is that (*spells in French*)M-O-G-A-I? C’est ca?

Eden: Yeah

Max: OK.

Eden: I think it’s the traditional for like, we say like, GM…Mmm?

Ro: (*clarifying statement*) like Gender and Sexual Minorities or diverse gender and sexuality those two terms.

Eden: Yeah

Brian: (*clarifying question*) this is “MO-JAI”? “MOGAI?”

Eden: Yeah, MOGAI

Brian: (*clarifying question*) So this means…this is like an umbrella term that’s related to queer or…?

Eden: Yeah.  It’s referring to any oppressed gender or sexuality, like…

Brian: Ok. And what is it like… Were you saying the definition or…? How would you define this term exactly? Or is it just that or is there more to it than that?

Eden:  I think it’s any, uh, sexual orientation or gender identity…or

Brian: But I mean it’s literally, then, defined by oppression

Eden: Yeah

Brian: So, I mean, if there’s one thing I guess that I was saying about, you know, the Two-Spirit concept, in a way, is that, it’s a term that is not…it’s queer, but not defined by oppression. And I feel like, terms like queer and gay they’re all defined by oppression in some way.

Eden: Yeah

Brian: I mean even if it’s, say, “re-claimed language.”

Eden: I feel like this is that, but I feel like with terms like GSM and MOGAI we are saying that why we find those groups, why we are a community is because of oppression.  We are bound not by blood but by oppressions the link, like because there’s nothing in common because with an asexual person and a gay trans woman, either because of the fact that they are oppressed, because they are queer like…and another, even for me, there’s….someone who wrote in her journal (newspaper- *a false cognate*) in the Nova Scotia that they should put the S in LGBTQ for “Straight.”

Max: What?!

Eden: Someone actually wrote that.

*Laughs and groans from the table*

Max: Yeah it’s, like…”No! No! No!” Yeah, I remember growing up it was LGBTQA, cause they’re like (*in cartoony voice) “LGBTQA like Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allies!” and it’s like (*puts head in hands*) “Oh God, help me.” So thankfully (now) A is for Asexual, just so you all know. Or Aromantic. It is not short for Allies.  You do not get a sticker for being an ally. You get, like a, y’know…

Meg: Nothing!

Max: You get nothing except for…Look you’re…

Meg: You’re a decent human being!

Max: Yeah, you’re a decent human being!  You’re doing, like, what you should be doing, so. Yeah. Cool.

Ro: I have a terminology question.  Something that…grates on me, I’d say, with ?resistance publicly? Seeing persons who identify as allies also taking up terminology that is in that alphabet. So, somebody who has lived their entire life as the sex that they were born with and the gender that they were presented with and are living and have always lived as heterosexual and benefit from all the privileges that come with all of those things and then identify as pansexual or queer-gendered. I don’t have an answer for that.  It’s just a question of terminology and I understand that people want to feel they’re included as allies.  But, at what point, do we…that do identify in those areas say (*slams hand on table*) “You’re an ally!”

Brian: Uh-huh

Ro: So, yes, you feel the need to procreate these terms as your own and bring them forth to others but—where’s the line?!

Brian: I think what you’re talking about is that…it’s kind of like James Franco in a way. Like, you feel appropriated, and (straight, cisgender) people…they put themselves in communities and they end up just taking up so much more space. And, you know, I lot of straight celebrities do that on the covers of these magazines and, you know, they get so much more attention than…

Ro: It’s taking up space…

Brian: …than a lot of queer artists. You see that especially in media, I find.

Ro: Yeah.

Max: Yeah, that’s really interesting, and then,  I’m thinking of someone I know who I think does identify as polysexual, like attracted to multiple but not all genders, but it’s like sometimes I wonder…are you really queer or just like alternative, like fem people, or like…You know what I mean?  It’s not necessarily being queer, it’s just like, you’re attracted to people who might seem queer.  You know what I mean? Which is not necessarily the same.

Eden: I know there’s this like…I saw a meme recently which is like “Hey there, I am…” it is a girl with a septum (piercing) and a guy with a manbun “Hey there!  We are a couple and we are queering heterosexuality by having a joint profile on Tindr!” I feel like there’s a lot of hipsters who want to be, like, cool be queer. I saw a dance show and the guys who said like “This thing is gonna be like really queer, but it was a guy dancing with a girl and it was still, like… male.”

Max: Yeah.

Eden: And in Teen Vogue, like if you’re questioning yourself really but if you’re not what…you know like “I am a straight guy, but I am queer. I just want to say that I am alternative and I want…and I want to hook up with queer women.”

Max: Yeah, it’s really hard

Eden: Or, like—I remember a girl saying to me, like, when I spent time with their friends, she said “Yes, I am fluid.  I can wear whatever I want!”

Meg: I feel like I’ve seen it (queering straightness/heterosexuality) a lot where, as like, being queer is becoming more accepted, people who are straight feel like they’re not special anymore and they want to be and so they take on this queer language and I think it’s also seen as, like seeing white people who were doing, like their ancestry DNA test and saying, like “See! I had an ancestor who, you know, came from Europe, so, like, this kind of absolves me of, like, needing to work on being anti-racist.”

Max: Oh my god

Meg: (*laughs*) And I see that happening with queer people doing the same thing like “Oh I identify as this!”

Ro: “Therefore, I get my ally check mark!”

Meg: (*laughs*) Yeah, without doing anything!

Max: “I’m one sixteenth Cherokee on my Mom’s side.” That’s what all people from the U.S. say. It’s, like, “Is that true? No!” And even if you are, “Yeah, yeah, you’re still white.” Let’s be real. But yeah, ally cards (*tsk tsk*) ayiyiyi.  Thankfully, I feel like, for the most part we’re getting…baby steps towards working past that, but still….Sometimes, I feel like “Yeah we’re past that!” And then I’ll go to certain spaces and it’s like: “Nooooooo!”

Eden: I don’t think that we’re in the space when the “Yay! We’re gay! Homophobia and trans dah dah dah…” No no no. We are still in Middle Ages.

Max: Yeah. Agreed.

Eden: Or Rock Ages of queerness. We have the Rock Ages, I think.

Max: (*checking for understanding and offering corrective feedback*) The Rock Ages? Like the Stone Age, with cavemen?

Eden: Yeah

Max: Yeah the Stone Age.  Well, thank you all for sharing. This has been a great conversation. I will definitely incorporate a little bit of everything I’ve heard. I’m really excited to see where this project goes and thank you for being a part of it!



This conversation highlights the wide diversity of queer experiences, identities, and languages.   We see how much language can be both a dynamic system, and a limiting one.  Although all of the participants agree that Quebec is more progressive in terms of queer-positive language than other societies, i.e. France, there is still a long way to go before language, and other systems are truly inclusive.  Some particularly prevalent systems that may hinder a richer communicative repertoire, and overall quality of life, include racism and immigration laws.  In order for positive change to occur for all LGBTQIA individuals, there needs to be change across the many systems that can impact an individual.

Throughout the conversation, we gain a glimpse of each individual’s communicative repertoire.   Eden’s contribution is of particular interest as she thoroughly deconstructs both her L1, French, and L2, English.  Additionally, we see many instances of translanguaging (Garcia, 2009, cited in Rymes, 2014). For instance, there are several times when they say the word French rather than the noun France.

Ro’s communicative repertoire is also of particular interest, most notably with her use of the word rheostatic to refer to her identity.  Even after some research, she is the only individual I can find who uses the term to refer to a queer identity.  This makes me think of Larsen-Freeman (cited in Douglas Fir Group, 2016)’s use of the term Complexity Theory in SLA.  Ro, like Larsen-Freeman, refers to a term previously only in use in the hard sciences, to apply to something outside of the sciences.  Also worth mentioning is Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) use of the term rhizomatic, a term which could very easily be confused with rheostatic.  Ro and others prove that a just how dynamic language can be; perhaps other queer people will be inspired begin to use the term for themselves.

It is clear that queer language is generally easier in English, even for French-as-L1 individuals, due to the fact that, as Eden explains, English has much less gender-specific terminology.  That being said, there is much to be said about the strides that Quebec is making towards more inclusive language; Quebecois French is a much more dynamic language system than its counterpart in France. l’Academie Francaise’s (2017) strict definition of what standard language does not seem to encapsulate all the different identities and realities in the francophone world.

However, although this is an engaging conversation, there is a gaping hole that cannot be ignored: the lack of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) voices.  This is a particularly glaring discrepancy as a person of colour, myself, not seeing any faces darker than my own.  Additionally, all speakers are from North America and, even though we all are conscious of different points of view, we still engage with a very Western perspective.

I hope that this conversation is one of many and that each conversation is a chance to add to understanding and perhaps to broaden my own, or for others to broaden their own communicative repertoires.   These conversations are a chance to check for understanding and to learn from one another.

Works Cited

L’Académie française (2017). Déclaration de l’Académie française sur l’écriture dite« exclusive » : adoptée à l’unanimité de ses membres dans la séance du jeudi 26 octobre 2017. Académie française. Retrieved from : http://www.academie-francaise.fr/actualites/declaration-de-lacademie-francaise-sur-lecriture-dite-inclusive

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Douglas Fir Group. (2016). A transdisciplinary framework for SLA in a multilingual world. Modern Language Journal ,100. (Supplement), 19-47.

Rymes, B. (2014). Communicative repertoire. In C. Leung & B. Street (Eds.), Handbook of English Language Studies (pp. 287-301)New York, NY: Routledge.








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