Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Other Montreal

The Eye sees more than the Heart knows.
William Blake, VISIONS of the Daughters of Albion

In the ever on going "thinking about thinking" project, the Oracle of Ottawa continues to discover new and very weird things. Being a Canadian the Oracle of Ottawa was raised and steeped in his elementary Canadian history. One of those facts being that there is and has only been one Montreal. Founded in 1642.  It is located in the province of Quebec, and is the largest French speaking city in North America. The second largest French speaking city in the world next to Paris, France.   

The "other" Montreal...

Imagine the Oracle's surprise while reading "Empires of the Word - A Language History of the World" by Nicholas Ostler, when on page 408, there is a map that contains a settlement named Montreal, that is presently located in Shoubak, Jordan!  This Montreal was founded and built in 1115! That is over five hundred years earlier than the founding of the Montreal that we all know of today.

The Montreal Crusader castle was built by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem and yes, ole King Baldwin, was French. And as per French settlements named Montreal, the other Montreal was built on top of a high hill. Of course all that remains today is the ruins. But once a upon a time there would have been the castle and a huge community located around it. The outpost stayed in French hands until 1189. Until it fell to the other guys.

The lesson of the story is that you are seldom taught the real story in school about anything. And that building settlements in far off lands on a persistent basis is what makes a language live forever. French is in the top twenty languages in use today. Well actually the top ten. And as far as the Oracle of Ottawa is concerned French is one of the "Big Four" languages. In the Oracle's world the only languages that matter are English, French, German and Spanish. Speaking one or more of these languages, and the world is your oyster.

The "other Montreal"!

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