|français cadien/français cadjin|
|Native speakers||25,600 (2013)|
French spread in Louisiana. Parishes marked in yellow are those where 4–10% of the population speak French or Cajun French at home, orange 10–15%, red 15–20%, brown 20–30%.
While historically other Louisiana French dialects, including Colonial or Plantation Society French, have been spoken in the state, these are now considered to have largely merged with the original Cajun dialects. However, there are significant populations of Louisiana Creoles—descended from European, African, and Native American ancestors—who continue to speak this variety of French. Parishes where this dialect is found include, but are not limited to, Avoyelles, Iberia, Pointe Coupée, St. Martin, St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Plaquemines, and other parishes south of Orleans.
Cajun French is not the same as Louisiana Creole. Cajun French is almost solely derived from Acadian French as it was spoken in the French colony of Acadia (located in what are now the Maritime provinces of Canada and in Maine) at the time of the expulsion of the Acadians in the mid-18th century; however, a significant amount of cultural vocabulary is derived from Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole.
Parishes where Cajun French is spoken
- Jefferson Davis
- Pointe Coupee
- St. Charles
- St. James
- St. Landry
- St. Martin
- St. Mary
The French resettled in Louisiana, establishing the culture and language there. Through the Acadian French language, Cajun is ultimately descended from the dialects of Anjou and Poitou. The word "Cajun" is an anglicization of "Cadien," itself a shortened pronunciation (by apheresis) of "Acadien".
French immigration continued in the 19th century until the start of the American Civil War, bringing large numbers of francophones speaking something more similar to today's Metropolitan French into Louisiana. Over time, through contact between groups, including a high rate of intermarriage, the dialects would mix, to produce the French we today call Cajun French.
Over time Cajun became the firmly established language of many south Louisiana parishes. Cajun was not only spoken by the Cajun people but also by other ethnic groups that lived in Acadian settled areas. Creoles, Amerindian ethnic groups such as the Houma, Chitimacha, Pointe-au-Chien, Bayougoula, Tunica-Biloxi, Atakapa, Opelousa, Okelousa, and Avoyel, through their cohabitation in south Louisiana's parishes eventually became proficient in Cajun French. Creoles and Amerindians already spoke French prior to the arrival of the Acadian people in Louisiana.
The term "Cajun" is reported to have derived from the English pronunciation of the French word Acadien. Some Cajuns call themselves "Cadiens" or "Cadjins" in French. The first spelling is derived from the French spelling "Acadien" and the second is an approximation, using French phonetics, of the pronunciation of the group name in Cajun French. "Cadien" is the French spelling preferred by Cajun academics. "Cajun" is an English word which is not accepted by Cajun academics to designate the group in French. The primary region where Cajun French is spoken is called Acadiana (not to be confused with Acadia, which refers to the region where Acadian French is spoken). Cajun areas of Louisiana sometimes form partnerships with Acadians in Canada who send French teachers to teach the language in schools.
In 1984, Jules O. Daigle, a Roman Catholic priest, published A Dictionary of the Cajun Language the first dictionary devoted to Cajun French. Once considered an authority on the language, it is not exhaustive; it omits alternate spellings and synonyms which Father Daigle deemed "perversions" of the language, but which are nonetheless popular among Cajun speakers and writers. Though remaining useful today, Daigle's dictionary has been superseded by Dictionary of Louisiana French (2010) edited by Albert Valdman and other authorities on the language.
Decline and preservation efforts
Some residents of Acadiana are bilingual, having learned French at home and English in school. The number of speakers of Cajun French has diminished considerably since the middle of the 20th century, but efforts are being made to reintroduce the language in schools. The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) was established in 1968 to promote the preservation of French language and culture in Louisiana. In addition to this, some Louisiana universities, such as LSU, offer courses in Cajun French in the hopes of preserving the language.
Some people question whether the Cajun language will survive another generation. Many parents intentionally have not taught their children the Cajun language to encourage English-language fluency, in hopes that the children would have a better life in an English-speaking nation. However, many of these grandparents are discovering that their grandchildren are researching and trying to learn the language.
Many young adults are learning enough Cajun to understand Cajun music lyrics. Also, there is now a trend to use Cajun language websites to learn the dialect. Culinary words and terms of endearment such as "cher" /ʃæ/ (dear) and "nonc" (uncle) are still heard among otherwise English-speaking Cajuns. Currently, Cajun French is considered an endangered language.
The Louisiana state legislature has greatly shifted its stance on the status of French. With the passage of Legislative Act No. 409 in 1968, the Louisiana governor was, and still is granted the authorization "to establish the Council for the Development of Louisiana-French" and that the agency is to consist of no more than fifty members including a chairman. The name was soon changed to CODOFIL and was granted the power to "do anything possible and necessary to encourage the development, usage and preservation of French as it exists in Louisiana.
An article written online by the Université Laval argues that the state of Louisiana's shift from anti-French to softly promoting the language has been of great importance to the survival of the language. The article states that it is advantageous to invigorate the revival of the language in order to better cherish the state's rich heritage as well as protect a francophone minority that has suffered greatly from negligence by political and religious leaders. Furthermore, the university's article claims that it is CODOFIL and not the state itself that sets language policy and that the only political stance the state of Louisiana makes is that of non-interference. All of this culminates in the fact that outside of the extreme southern portions of the state, French remains a secondary language that retains heavy cultural and identity values.
According to Jacques Henry, chairman of CODOFIL, much progress has been made for francophones and that the future of French in Louisiana is not merely a symbolic one. According to statistics gathered by CODOFIL, the past twenty years has seen widespread acceptance of French immersion programs. Mr. Henry goes further to write that the official recognition, appreciation by parents, and inclusion of French in schools reflects growing valorization of the language and francophone culture. Henry ends his article by writing that ultimately the survival of French in Louisiana will be guaranteed by Cajun parents and politicians, stating that the French language's survival is by no means guaranteed but that there is still hope.
Cajun French often varies by community and ethnic group. However, Cajun French can be said to have two general dialects: Prairie French and Bayou French.
Prairie French is spoken among Cajun, Creole and Black residents in southwest Louisiana.
Bayou French is primarily spoken among Cajuns and American Indians in southeast Louisiana. The Black population of southeast Louisiana now only has a few speakers and those are mostly non-fluent. It has a thicker creole influence, and bilingual speakers of creole tend to switch back and forth in this accent.
Words of Native American origin
|Words of Native American Origin|
|Chaoui||Raccoon||Choctaw or Mobilian shaui|
|Choupique||Bowfin||Choctaw shupik, "mudfish"|
|Pacane||Pecan||Algonquian via Mobilian|
|Patassa||Sunfish||Choctaw patàssa "flat"|
|Plaquemine||Persimmon||Illinois piakimin, via Mobilian|
|Tchoc||(Black)bird||Possibly Atakapa t'sak|
|Cajun French test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
- Acadian French
- List of Louisiana parishes by French-speaking population
- Louisiana French
- French in the United States
- Canadian French
- Cajun English
- Endangered language
- List of endangered languages
- Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.), 2013. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com.
- Language Labels (French in Louisiana), Tulane University.
- Nadeau, Jean-Benoît, and Julie Barlow. The Story of French. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2006
- Brasseaux, Carl A. 1992. Acadian to Cajun: transformation of a people, 1803-1877. Jackson and London: University Press of Mississippi.
- Three Local Tribes Await Federal Decision, December 8, 2007, Houma Today.
- Clarence's Guide to the Cajun French Language, Cajun Phrases, and Cajun Dictionary
- CODOFIL Conseil pour le développement du français en Louisiane, Bienvenue, http://www.codofil.org/francais/index.html
- Louisiane: La politique linguistique actuelle en Louisiane, Université Laval, 16-5-08, http://www.tlfq.ulaval.ca/axl/amnord/louisiane-3pol-lng.htm
- Henry, Jacques. "Le Français en Louisiane: Le Doubt puis L'Espoir", http://www.regionamerique-apf.org/Bulletin/Vol1No1/Art9.pdf
- Cajun Subcultures
- Read, William A. 1931. Louisiana-French. Revised edition. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
- Cajun French Dictionary and Phrasebook by Clint Bruce and Jennifer Gipson ISBN 0-7818-0915-0. Hippocrene Books Inc.
- Tonnerre mes chiens! A glossary of Louisiana French figures of speech by Amanda LaFleur ISBN 0-9670838-9-3. Renouveau Publishing.
- A Dictionary of the Cajun Language by Rev. Msgr. Jules O. Daigle, M.A., S.T.L. ISBN 0-9614245-3-2. Swallow Publications, Inc.
- Cajun Self-Taught by Rev. Msgr. Jules O. Daigle, M.A., S.T.L. ISBN 0-9614245-4-0. Swallow Publications, Inc.
- Language Shift in the Coastal Marshes of Louisiana by Kevin J. Rottet ISBN 0-8204-4980-6. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
- Conversational Cajun French I by Harry Jannise and Randall P. Whatley ISBN 0-88289-316-5. The Chicot Press.
- Dictionary of Louisiana French as Spoken in Cajun, Creole, and American Indian Communities, senior editor Albert Valdman. ISBN 978-1-60473-403-4 Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010.
- A beginner's introduction: What is Cajun French?
- Le français cadien par thèmes: Cajun French by Themes
- Faux amis: How to Speak French in Louisiana Without Getting in Trouble
- Glossaire Français Cadien-Français Européen: Cajun-Standard French Glossary
- L'interrogatif en français cadien: Forming questions in Cajun French
- Les pronoms personnels cadiens: Cajun personal pronouns
- Les pronoms sujets et le système verbal: The Basics of Verb Conjugation
- Les animaux dans la métaphore populaire: Cajun animal metaphors
- Un glossaire cadien-anglais: Cajun French to English glossary
- La Base de données lexicographiques de la Louisiane
- TVTL.tv Télévision Terrebonne-LaFourche
- Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL)
- Cajun language websites
- Ethnologue report for Cajun French
- Cane River Valley French
- Cajun French Language Tutorials
- Terrebonne Parish French Online!