VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Canada has a speech impediment.
It's got two official languages, French and English.
The result is a constant national echo.
Anything remotely official has to be spoken twice, and written twice. At the Winter Games, that means all the announcements, all the signage, and all the paperwork. And, at what is supposed to be a green Games, that can be both expensive and counterproductive.
Instead of, say, 50 signs designating the media workroom at every venue, you've got 50 that say "Press Work Area" and another 50 that say ""Aire de Travail pour la Presse."
"Mon Dieu, the waste!
Even the poor sap who had to roam the Canada Centre stands this week in search of between-period interviews was forced to conduct them in two languages, which made the inane practice even more inane than usual.
It was hardly a surprise last year when the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) ran out of money for bilingual services. The federal government came to the rescue, chipping in $7.7 million.
Apparently, it wasn't enough.
Quebec newspapers have been filled this week with complaints that the opening ceremonies didn't include enough spoken French, enough French references, enough French performers. Plus, they contend, only 15 percent of Olympic volunteers speak their language.
At a news conference on Monday, VANOC chief John Furlong was peppered with angry questions on the subject by reporters from Quebec. He was apologetic and polite, but his basic response was, "Hey, we asked Celine Dion to sing, but she couldn't make it."
The show included a French vocalist whose song welcomed the Olympic flame, a few references to French-Canadian culture, and some things that were in both languages. But, for Quebec sensibilities anyway, it wasn't enough.
Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore threw wine on the raging fire when he agreed that French got a raw deal.
"I thought the opening ceremonies were brilliant, beautiful, spectacular on television," he told CBC News, "but there should have been more French. Period. Full stop."
VANOC officials countered that they had done all they could, given the financial and time restraints. Reportedly, they had grown concerned that an entirely bilingual show would run too long, and cut a deal with Quebec officials to make up for it by staging a Quebec Day at the Games.
And what was the language at that Monday event, during which Montreal skier Alex Bilodeau, Canada's first home-soil gold medalist, was honored?
At Monday's testy news conference, Furlong had been joined by Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who conceded that "where the French language is concerned, we think there was not enough French."
All this has led to an outbreak of one of schizophrenic Canada's favorite pastimes -- sniping between French and English columnists.
The post-opening-ceremonies edition of Montreal's La Presse devoted several pages to the perceived slight, noting in one headline that in Vancouver, French had been as rare as snow.
Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford returned fire Tuesday.
Referring to the Francophones' testy questioning of Furlong, which came just after a funeral service for the Georgian luger who was killed in a crash Friday, she wrote:
"Given that he had just come from a small funeral service for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, where he was one of the pallbearers," she wrote, "it must have seemed a striking and shabby contrast between the things which count and the things which don't."