January 23, 2005

La Chenille ABC Teaches Your Child Quebecois

chenille_abc.jpgDT reader Cameron mentioned this in the comments for the loud Learning Home toy:

We have a Chenille ABC (I have no idea what it's called in English) by Leapfrog. Lucas loves it. Adores it. The first one broke and we (against our better judgment) replaced it. Each of the feet triggers a phonetic pronunciation, a letter, a colour or a song, depending on the mode you are in.

When you leave it alone long enough (a length of time designed to make you forget it was being played with) it bellows out "Merci de choisi Leapfrog" (thanks for choosing leapfrog). 6 months on with this toy and that bit never fails to make me jump.

I'm guessing that chenille is a centipede, but I'm also guessing that this is AWESOME. At least as a gift. heh.

It also makes me wonder, since all my razors in the US come in bilingual packages, if talking toys in Canada are required to be bilingual, or are they just available in monolingual versions?

Buy a Leapfrog La Chenille ABC - Alphabet Pal - French Version [duh, does that answer my question?] from Zooscape for $US25.25, or buy two [?!??] and save $1.35 [NOW I see the racket; In Canada they make you buy two of everything.]

[update: From the story of this cranky Anglo grandma who wanted to import an English-only-speaking punching bag to Quebec, here's what I'm getting: unless it is a "cultural product," for an English-language talking toy to be sold in Quebec, there must be a French version available as well. Donc, La Chenille.]


We have a quebec legal farm toy that sings "old McDonald" but uses no actual words "da la la la la..."
Hence it is bilingual. The same toy in the US sings the words.

So in the French version, what songs do each of the letters play? In the US version, when you flip it to the song setting and press a leg, it plays a song that has a name starting with the letter you pressed. Like O plays Old McDonald, P plays Pop Goes the Weasel, etc.

"Chenille" means caterpillar -- which is why a certain soft woven fabric is named for it; it's like a fuzzy caterpillar.

We had the english version but I haven't played with it for a few years. When switched to phonetic mode you could get the caterpillar to say things by sounding out the words. I'm an immature child at heart so of course I tried to make it say some words not approved for babies. There are certain words it won't say -- instead the caterpillar giggles when you press the last sound. :-)

You get the english or the french only. Cranky Anglo grandparents are a cottage industry here in Quebec. That and hockey goalies that help render your national team scoreless.

Equally annoying, but without as much press coverage, is the "packaged in French but actually an English toy" phenomena. We killed ourselves trying to find this thing that beams the stars onto the ceiling for our nephew (unilingual Francophone) they were all packaged bilingually but had the English toy inside.

I don't think there are laws about toys and the languages they speak, but it just makes economic sense. With roughly 85%+ of the province speaking French as a first language English-only toys are a bit of niche market.

I've spent way too much time trying to get my daughter's english version to curse. When you are in the phonetic mode and you attempt something like F-U... It giggles and then says "THAT TICKLES!" when you hit the K.

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