Ottawa Red Blacks: An Appeal To Jeff Hunt & Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group – By Keenan Wellar

By: Keenan Wellar

Checkout Keenan’s Blog here.

After much additional Red Blacks discussion on Twitter, and being successful with the majority of correspondents in explaining the rationale for Ottawa Red Blacks (not Red and Blacks, not Redblacks, not RedBlacks, see below) the conversation turned to French, and I found myself in less familiar waters.

With a great deal of assistance from francophones near and far (the internet still amazes me in that way) I’m as confident as I can be in stating that the French name for the team should be Rouge et Noir. I’ll bet back to the French in a moment. First, some points that are bound to be raised about the name in English.

I fully realize that the direct translation from French to English indicates two different names. That is because English and French are different. I live in Vanier, so trust me, it’s about 1 in a 100000 that there is a direct translation with the same number of words (generally, it takes more words in French to communicate the same meaning, but then, perhaps that’s why like many people I find French to be more expressive).


In English we frequently omit words that are “understood” and we also pluralize words in names in ways that are not commonly done in French, for example: to change their original meaning and indicate that the name references a team. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are named after Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber. But there is more than one “bomber” on a football team, thus, they are the “Bombers.”

And so it is with Red Blacks. The team is being named for the old jersey colours that featured red and black. When changed to a team name, the “and” becomes understood, and the “black” gets pluralized. Thus, Ottawa Red [and] Blacks: Ottawa Red Blacks. Just like the famous All Blacks rugby team. Calling them the All In Black would seem weird, wouldn’t it? So we drop the “in” which becomes understood, and we add the “s” to indicate that it is a team.

So why would it be Rouge et Noir in French? The short answer is, that’s just how it’s done. When the French media writes about the Detroit Red Wings, it’s “Red Wings de Détroit.” But plenty of football examples about. For those who think Rouge et Noir might be a mouthful, it seems to me it’s easier than Rouge et Or (Laval University, hosts of Vanier Cup 2013). But maybe that’s because I’m not a natural French speaker. But the point stands: in English we omit the “and” while in French the “et” is a must! We pluralize to indicate it is a team, whereas this convention is not used in French.

If you identify primarily as English, don’t worry about the French name. You’ll be cheering for the Ottawa Red Blacks. If you identify primarily as French, don’t worry about the English name. You’ll be cheering for the Rouge et Noire.

I have challenge English speakers who react negatively to Red Blacks to try chanting the name as if they were at a game. Most will admit that it sounds cool! I’ve had the same reaction from francophone friends, who tend to be even more enthusiastic about Rouge et Noir.So, I hope that answers all the new naming questions, now all we need is for someone to make the names official!

The complete article can be found here

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  • jonathan

    its official the Ottawa football fans are left to naming teams by colour!
    just think the RedBlacks will be playing the the BlueWhites , the banjo bowl will be the GreenWhites against the BlueYellows and the battle of Alberta will be the GreenGolds vs the RedWhites! good luck with the name, i will not be buying any “RedBlacks” merchandise …


    CFL fans in Toronto don’t think that RED-BLACK is a good name.
    Why not call them THE OTTAWA HUNTERS ?

  • Dumb name…it’s a tongue twister in english…a little easier in french. Surely to god, they could have come up with something a lot easier. The minute you have to start explaining a name and why and wherefore, an awful lot is lost. The name should be an automatic identifier. Missed the boat on this one.

  • Don MacDonald

    I didn’t like “Ottawa RedBlacks” when I first heard it but its growing on me. I can already hear the North Side stands chanting RED followed by a much louder BLACK coming from the South side.

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