The following is a passage from this opinion article, and it seems to use many sentence structure choices that aren't found in English; DeepL can't even translate these choices into sensible English, so I'm curious about what these stylistic choices actually mean.

I'm separating the handful of questions about this passage each into their own question.

Note: I made massive edits to the question after thinking to google "Bouchard Taylor". It's, in essence, a different question now.

The bolded part is what I'm writing to ask about specifically, but I'm giving the entire passage for context in case the context is important to understand the bolded part:

Vous doutez de la chose? Ces accommodements vous paraissent indus?

« Les Québécois sont racistes », « les Québécois sont xénophobes », « les Québécois sont intolérants »...

Quand la discussion a été entamée à propos des signes religieux , Bouchard-Taylor, et ensuite de façon plus large à propos du fait religieux dans l’espace public, dans les institutions, ceux qui ont osé exprimer leur préférence d’un état laïc... Encore, en chœur, les mêmes, fidèles au poste...

« Les Québécois sont racistes », « les Québécois sont xénophobes », « les Québécois sont intolérants »...

À la suite de l’élection du Parti québécois, cette première tentative, chambranlante un peu, c’est vrai, de légiférer sur la laïcité de l’État; seconde grande discussion sur le sujet, transformée en foire d’empoigne, les gros canons, sur le pied de guerre...

« Les Québécois sont racistes », « les Québécois sont xénophobes », « les Québécois sont intolérants »...

« Les Québécois sont racistes », « les Québécois sont xénophobes », « les Québécois sont intolérants »...

« Nationalisme identitaire », « laïcité = intolérance », « multiculturalisme = tolérance »...

DeepL's translation of the first part of this is:

Do you have any doubts? Do these accommodations seem unwarranted?

"Quebecers are racist", "Quebecers are xenophobic", "Quebecers are intolerant"...

When the discussion was started about religious signs, Bouchard-Taylor, and then more broadly about the religious fact in the public space, in institutions, those who dared to express their preference for a secular state... Again, in chorus, the same ones, faithful to the post...

DeepL's translation doesn't make sense in English, so I'm wondering what " , Bouchard-Taylor, " means.

A google search reveals that there was such a thing called "The Bouchard-Taylor Commission".

Given this, the passage would have made sense to me if there was a de inserted before "Bouchard-Taylor":

Quand la discussion a été entamée à propos des signes religieux, et de Bouchard-Taylor,

("When the discussion was started about religious signs, and about the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, ...")

Would it have been incorrect to have added "et de" before "Bouchard-Taylor"?

2 Answers 2


To make sense of this article you have to bear in mind that it is meant to be oral speech put down in writing, hence the construction.

"Bouchard-Taylor" is one of the subjects along with "ceux qui ont osé exprimer leur préférence d’un état laïc". What is meant is that Bouchard-Taylor and those who dared express themselves along with the commission.

So, no, no de is required before Bouchard-Taylor, the discussion was not about Bouchard-Taylor, Bouchard-Taylor originated the discussion, it is one of the grammatical subjects.

Bouchard-Taylor (subject 1) et [à la suite de la commission] ceux (subject 2) qui ont osé exprimé leur préférence d'un état laïc ....

  • So, a translation (shortened, b/c space in comments is short!) could be something like: "When the discussion started about religious symbols, the Bouchard Taylor commission chanted "Quebecers are racist". And, when the broader discussion started about religious manifestations in the public sphere, those who dared to express their preference for a secular state chanted "Quebecers are racists" ". But that last part doesn't make sense? Those who are arguing for a secular state wouldn't be saying that Quebecers are racist!
    – silph
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 7:06
  • ie, It's those who are arguing for multiculturalism who (according to this author) are saying that Quebecers are racist. So I'm having trouble seeing how both "Bouchad-Taylor" and "Ceux qui ont osé..." could be grammatical subjects to "ont dit que 'Les Québecois sont racistes "?
    – silph
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 7:07
  • @silph Is my second explanation any clearer, I'll delete whatever is unclear.
    – None
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 7:17
  • your last paragraph is more clear (by explicitly writing out a sentence where "Bouchard-Taylor" and "ceux" are subjects), but it doesn't make sense to me? Maybe my brain is too fatigued tonight and so I'm missing something obvious? Your sentence says that "Those who dare to express their preference for following laïcité repeat 'Les Québécois sont racistes' ", but wouldn't such people instead say "We Quebecers aren't racist, just because we want a secular state"?
    – silph
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 7:23
  • 1
    @EylaChu-Generis thanks for the suggestion. i'll try reading the first five or so pages of the report and see how it goes; i think they even translated into English, too.
    – silph
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 21:46

It is important to know precisely what "Bouchard-Taylor" refers to.

(Wikipedia) The Bouchard-Taylor commission (named for its two co-chairmen), officially the Quebec Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences, was created on 8 February 2007 by Quebec premier Jean Charest. Its mandate was to examine questions related to reasonable accommodation allowed because of cultural or religious differences in Quebec.

It follows that the apposition "Bouchard-Taylor" is not justified, there is no "true" apposition, and instead this is rather an explanation of what precedes; as such it should be introduced by additional words. However, this part of the article is not written in standard French, it's rambling French, stream of consciousness type writing and so you can't depend on the usual grammar. One might have chosen the usual short means of treating this matter, that is, the use of parentheses (instead of commas), and then there would have been enough definiteness. The commas can therefore be read as the parentheses of standard grammar.

  • oh! this is (if I understand correctly) a different interpretation than user None thought. I found this entire article far, far more difficult to understand than any other French article I've tried reading -- even with DeepL's help. maybe my level of French is still far too low to understand this style of writing (even with DeepL's help), I'm not sure...
    – silph
    Commented Aug 30, 2021 at 8:45

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