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.
Pot industry gearing up for holiday shoppers; uncertainty in Ferguson; Patriots' winning streak and more national and international news for Monday, November 24, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.
The money came through a general obligation bond sale Thursday.
A legend in the Acadiana Oil Patch, Comeaux died Monday, Nov. 17.
With a growing number of alleged sexual assault victims coming out against Bill Cosby in recent weeks, upcoming projects have been canned by NBC and Netflix, but that won’t affect the once-loved comedian and actor’s scheduled performance in Lafayette.
The Baltimore Ravens' retooled secondary had no trouble against a rookie quarterback at home. This week, however, their task is far more challenging: stopping Drew Brees on the road in New Orleans.
Add Texas Gov. Rick Perry's name to the list of possible Republican presidential candidates flooding the campaign trail for GOP Senate candidate Bill Cassidy.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is in Florida this week with his fellow Republican governors for another gripe session aimed at their favorite target, the president, this time taking aim at his immigration plans.
Early voting for the runoff is shortened by two days because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Coach Don” Gagnard is running for school board. Today he offers his critique of the socioeconomic relationship between government subsidies and obesity.
Former Le Rosier chef who cooked at the James Beard House and was named one of the “Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1995 was 48.
Pat Cooper is contesting his termination by the LPSB, filing a petition Tuesday that calls the recent decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
A look at the numbers highlights the challenge facing Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu as she tries to win a fourth term in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising the new Republican majority will quickly resurrect Keystone XL pipeline legislation killed by Democrats, potentially setting up an early 2015 veto confrontation with President Barack Obama.
A national animal rights group has been rebuffed by a Baton Rouge district court judge, although the group might still get its day in court.
The administration says public college campuses won't be on the chopping block.
The legendary musician is performing at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
Old savings and checking accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil and gas royalty payments and other unclaimed money is sent to the state when a business cannot locate someone.