Look, French is hard. As a French major, I know this. I studied the language for 8 years and still can’t wrap my tongue around some of the sounds my mouth is supposed to make when speaking it (badly). And foreign languages are not easy for some people, and hey, kudos to new Montréal Canadiens Executive Vice President Jeff Gorton for trying.
The ennui is real.
From perusing Wikipedia, it appears Gorton has spent his entire life living in the Northeast, which is definitely more influenced by French than say, the Midwest. Every time I go to NYC, I’m amazed by how much French I see and hear around me, so it’s amazing Gorton didn’t even pick up common French pronunciations via osmosis. And Gorton is not an uneducated man — he has a master’s degree for crying out loud. Didn’t his college require a foreign language credit?
I would say that whoever wrote this speech for Gorton should have written it out phonetically, but even small children know that you don’t pronounce “merci” like “mercy,” so I’m not sure, really, what would have helped. I’ve heard better French spoken by both Tom & Jerry and Bart Simpson. How does an organization with as many resources as the Canadiens manage to put together a foreign language speech for a new hire and not have someone go over the pronunciations with him? Or maybe they did, and this was the result, anyway. Some people are beyond help.
There’s a famous story about Princess Di compensating for not being able to speak French by showing up to her first royal trip to Paris “dressed head to toe in Chanel,” which is what I feel like Gorton should have gone for here. No one cares if you can speak French well if you show up to an NHL press conference dripping an Yves St. Laurent classic tux. Maybe give that a while next time, Jeff.