Recently, I was at a boudin stop on the Bayou TÃªche in Breaux Bridge, when I initiated a conversation in French with the man behind the counter. He asked where I was from and was surprised to learn I was local because of my "French" accent. I told him that I tried my best to speak Cajun French. "Well, you can try," he retorted, "but you're never going to do it (Ti peux assayer, mais ti vas jamais faire li)."
Many young Louisianians, like me and my friends, did not learn French Ã la maison but are learning it quand mÃªme. In a global world, we realize that being bilingual is an enormous advantage. More important, we know that our culture relies heavily on the continuation of French in Louisiana. We want our culture to survive. We appreciate the efforts of local businesses and organizations that provide services in French and wish there were more. We also regret that our elders were stigmatized for speaking French and subsequently did not to pass it to the younger generation. Still, to discourage the young because they lack "pure" Cajun accents is wrong.
Learning and speaking a new language takes courage. I encourage my high school students to speak Cajun or Creole French with their families and with locals in their communities. If they encounter negative attitudes from native speakers, it may discourage them in the acquisition and continuation of the language that is rightfully theirs. Not to mention, it's plain embarrassing to be told that you aren't speaking the "good" way. We should know that by now.
Then again, maybe the man I spoke with was right ' Cajun French will "die" with his generation, because young Cajuns who try to speak French will "never do it" like a "real" Cajun. However, isn't it true that here French changes from parish to parish, person to person, and generation to generation? A language is only "dead" when it is no longer dynamic, and Cajun French certainly will fade if its native speakers do not vigorously urge the young to continue it.
If French in Louisiana is going to survive in more than a marginal way, it is going to take acts of determination by the young, and support from the community elders. We need to be encouraged. However, even in the face of discouragement, my friends and I will continue speaking French. After all, how do you get a Cajun to do something? Tell her she can't.
State Rep. Lenar Whitney — one of a handful of Republican candidates vying for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional district — has been described by Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman as one of the most “frightening or fact-averse candidate[s]” he’s ever met following her reaction to an interview last week.
Mid-August hearing dates have been set for dueling lawsuits over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools.
An investigation into the last-minute passage of a pension hike for the state police superintendent continues, despite Col. Mike Edmonson's decision not to accept the increase.
Safety Jairus Byrd practiced with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday for the first time since his signing in March.
Sentencing has been delayed for a businessman who provided key testimony in the corruption case that resulted in the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
The spectre of priest sex abuse has returned to haunt the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette following the recent release of an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio, revealing new allegations of another child predator hiding behind the clerical collar.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Times Square impersonator crackdown; Israel shells Gaza school; Russia hit with sanctions and more national and international news for Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The sponsor of a Louisiana law that requires doctors that perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges doesn't believe the provision is in jeopardy after a federal appeals court struck down a similar Mississippi law.
Louisiana's state school board has jumped into a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal that accuses the governor of illegally meddling in education policy through his efforts to block Common Core education standards.
Here's how one nationally recognized conservative political pundit reacted upon hearing the news Monday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was leaning toward an endorsement of Louisiana’s lone Democrat senator.
With the qualifying deadline for Lafayette Parish School Board elections quickly approaching, a series of candidate forums have been announced by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council.
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Louisiana's state school board is holding a special meeting to consider whether to sue Gov. Bobby Jindal in an ongoing dispute over the Common Core education standards.
A bipartisan congressional deal to help improve veterans' health care access includes approval for new veterans clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles.
It wouldn’t be a first, however, as the Chamber has thrown money behind Landrieu before.
The Democratic incumbent, seeking her fourth term in office, is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. companies.
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Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.