25 July 2012


Of course it is a French verb. Granted, it may not figure in le Petit Robert, but to describe the act of changing or toggling something, switcher is nonetheless widely used. At least by the uninhibited Québecois, who take the English to switch, add the French verb ending -er and force the resulting construct through conjugation.

It takes some getting used to, but fortunately I am having plenty of opportunities, since there is a fair bit of switching going on in my life right now. Just over a week ago, I moved from my employer's hallowed executive floor to a new position in the trenches of the Canadian business unit. This brought not just a welcome change of scenery, but also one of challenges, pace, and team.

As it happens, I find myself working closely with three gregarious, and throughly French-Canadian, colleagues. In consequence, and unlike in my first three years at the company, I now frequently land in meetings and discussions held in French, albeit a version in which switcher is still one of the milder idiosyncracies thrown in.

Taking in the accent, the vernacular and the exuberance still puts a smile on my face, yet is no longer as much one of amusement as it is one of belonging. The Québecois version of French has become my version of French, much to the enjoyment of my colleagues, who gently tease me with it.

Switching things around every now and then is refreshing, and I am looking forward to what promises to be a pretty cool opportunity. Not quite as cool, however, as the most highly coveted switch that I have laid hand on in these sweltering summer days. It is labeled "ON". And it sticks out of my new air-conditioner.

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