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.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
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Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Google vs. Amazon in drone race; more deaths in Syria; Russia escalates Ukraine conflict and more national and international news for Friday, August 29, 2014.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
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A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
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The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
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Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
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The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
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