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.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.