I lived in Montreal for most of my life.It may seem like you’d be yelled at or something if you go based on all the big news stories about the language laws but in all honesty, it’s really a rather small percentage of residents who are that uptight about it.Remember that Montreal is a very tourist-based city especially in the summer, so English is not that uncommon and there are a decent number of anglophones who live there (I myself am also anglophone, although I am fluent in French and no longer live there).
Generally speaking if you speak to a stranger in English, one of the following is most likely to happen: 1 – The person will be anglophone as well and will assist you in your language.2 – The person will be francophone but perfectly bilingual and will assist you in your language.3 – The person will be francophone and not speak very good English but will do their best to answer you in broken English and as long as you are both patient you will be able to communicate reasonably well.
4 – The person will be francophone and not understand you, and will shrug or respond to you in French.The two most likely scenarios are 2 and 3.There is always a slight chance you will get some jerk who will tell you “içi on parle français!” (“here we speak French) but there are more friendly people than not.
Your odds of being understood are higher in certain parts of the city as well.Downtown and Old Montreal you have a great chance.Other suburbs (NDG, Westmount, LaSalle, Verdun, West Island, etc) are pretty good odds as well.
If I spoke to a stranger in English first in Montreal, what would happen to me?What do you expect would happen?If the person happened to be an anglophone they’d probably answer you in English.
If they were a francophone who understood English they might answer you, or they might ignore you.If they did not understand English, they would probably shrug and walk away.
In many of Montreal’s districts english is the most spoken language (this cannot be said for many other places in Quebec).As a result, most people, especially in the service industry, will start speaking to you in english.
Just as likely to hear an answer back in English.In Montreal, you can use English in almost all instances, unless you run into the French Language police (relax, this is provincial civil servants that looks for business signs that are not predominately in French!
If I spoke to a stranger in English first in Montreal, what would happen to me?
Unless they were visiting from outside of Montreal, they would probably respond back to you in English.