Colonial French

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Colonial French
Français colonial
Native to United States
Region Louisiana
Extinct "virtually" extinct; merged with Cajun French
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Colonial French is a variety of Louisiana French. It is associated with the more widely known Cajun French dialect and Louisiana Creole French, a related creole language. Formerly spoken widely in what is now the U.S. state of Louisiana, it is now considered to have largely merged with Cajun.[1][2]

Colonial French is conventionally described as the form of French spoken in Lower French Louisiana prior to the mass arrival of Acadians after the Great Upheaval of the mid-18th century, which resulted in the birth of the Cajun dialect. The prestige dialect still used by some Cajuns is often identified as deriving from Colonial French, but some linguists differentiate between the two, referring to the latter as Plantation Society French.[2][3]


Historically spoken by a part of the Louisiana Creole population in lower French Louisiana, Colonial French is generally considered to be nearly extinct as a separate variety today.[2][4] Most linguists consider it to have largely merged with Cajun French, which is distinguishable from Louisiana Creole French.[1]

Following the Great Upheaval in the mid-18th century, when many Acadians relocated to French Louisiana, Colonial French was displaced by the developing Cajun dialect. Some scholars suggested that it survived as the prestige dialect spoken by Creoles, both white and of color, into the 19th century. There are populations of Creoles and other ethnic groups in the parishes of St. Martin, Avoyelles, Iberia, Pointe-Coupée, St. Charles, St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Plaquemines, and other parishes south of Orleans, that still speak this prestige dialect, as opposed to Cajun. White and Native American speakers are often considered by outsiders to belong to Cajun culture, though this classification has not been traditionally welcomed by white Creoles.[5]

However, linguists have pointed out this prestige dialect is distinct from the pre-Upheaval Colonial French, and is largely derived from the standard French of the mid-19th century. As such, in 1998 linguist Michael Picone of the University of Alabama introduced the term "Plantation Society French" for the prestige dialect.[2][3] There is a history of diglossia between Plantation Society French and Louisiana Creole French.[3] Plantation Society French, at any rate, is quite close to the Standard French of the time of its origin, with some possible differences in pronunciation and vocabulary use.[2]


  1. ^ a b "What is Cajun French?". Department of French Studies, Louisiana State University. Retrieved September 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Cane River Valley French – Languages and Labels – Tulane University
  3. ^ a b c Picone, Michael. "The Rise and Fall of Plantation Society French" (abstract), presented at the Creole Studies Conference: Creole Legacies, New Orleans, October 23–25, 2003.
  4. ^ Squint, Kirstin. "A Linguistic and Cultural Comparison of Haitian Creole and Louisiana Creole" Postcolonial Text, Vol 1, No 2 (2005).
  5. ^ Brasseaux 2005.


  • Brasseaux, Carl A (2005). French, Cajun, Creole, Houma: A Primer on Francophone Louisiana. Bâton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.