Neaux French Left Behind transcript

Carrie Gillon 

Hi and welcome to the Vocal Fries Podcast, the podcast about linguistic discrimination.

Megan Figueroa 

I’m Megan Figueroa.

Carrie Gillon 

And I’m Carrie Gillon. And today we’re recording with Megan actually here!

Megan Figueroa 

Yes!

Carrie Gillon 

In Pheonix!

Megan Figueroa 

We are in the same room. Because it’s your birthday.

Carrie Gillon 

It is my birthday. [both laugh]

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, there’s a cat eating I will be so distracted.

Carrie Gillon 

I know that’s tricky.

Megan Figueroa 

In a cute way. I’m amazed by animals nurturing themselves with food, water.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, there’s something very nice and cute about it for sure.

Megan Figueroa 

There is! Like, you take care of yourself. I love that.

Carrie Gillon 

Yes. Okay, so one thing I wanted to talk about because it was pointed out to me that Bob Garfield sorta apologized about calling out vocal fry. Complaining about vocal fry.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah and I should hear this because I was really mean about him.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, I think- I think that’s okay. I think even when you hear this, you’re going to be like, mm.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, okay. I mean, that’s for most like male apologies.

Carrie Gillon 

So it’s- it says, “old fart” in quotes, “response to great vocal fry outcry of 2013.”

Megan Figueroa 

Great start.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, although, to be fair, he’s not the one who wrote the headline. I’m gonna guess usually it’s not…

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, that’s true.

Carrie Gillon 

But the first line is, “I hate women. Or so I am recently informed this verdict was delivered in the wake of a slate podcast Mike Vuolo, and I did. Lexicon Valley episode 24 about the so called vocal fry. That’s what linguists and speech pathologists call the affection- affectation of intentionally creeking one’s voice, especially towards the ends of phrases.” A. linguists used to call it creaky voice.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. It’s a new thing, calling it vocal fry.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah. I think fish pathologists have called that for a long time, but I don’t think linguists have. A.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

And b. we don’t– it’s not an affectation. It’s not intentional.

Megan Figueroa 

Right, why do people want to keep saying it’s an affectation because it’s a really big thing.

Carrie Gillon 

They really think it’s on purpose. That we do it on purpose to annoy them or something.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, I mean. I can’t turn it off.

Carrie Gillon 

Right.

Megan Figueroa 

Like it’s– I’m not really controlling this at all.

Carrie Gillon 

No, in most- most of our vocal features that we use, we don’t control.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

Consciously.

Megan Figueroa 

Right.

Carrie Gillon 

Some we do but a lot we don’t.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

And when it comes to sound stuff? A lot of it is unconscious.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes.

Carrie Gillon 

So.

Megan Figueroa 

Alright, let’s go on Bob.

Carrie Gillon 

Anyway, “the experts say creaking, I say croaking.”

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, Bob. I feel like Tina Belcher. The uhhhhh.

Carrie Gillon 

I know.

Megan Figueroa 

Now I’m just like, on the floor and just groaning. Okay. Does it get better from here?

Carrie Gillon 

No. “This is mainly an American phenomenon.” False.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

“Which research shows disproportionately reside among young women and teens” false. “Like valley girl speaking illogical, upward inflection. Jen and I went to the mall and we saw this totally cute guy. And Jen’s all, I got to get to Abercrombie and I’m like, really? Vocal fry is a gathering epidemic.”

Megan Figueroa 

Also, teenage girls don’t only talk about boys.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, boys and shopping.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

Like hello. You do hate women.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, you’re heteronormativity for one thing. And you’re like holistic bullshit.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, like, it’s okay– it’s okay to want to shop sometimes. And it’s okay if you don’t like shopping.

Megan Figueroa 

It’s ok to like boys.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s okay to ike boys or ok not to like boys. But like, none of these things have to do with teenage girls particularly. It’s much bigger than that.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, but let’s– how many examples of people pretending to be a teenage girl are going to be about one of those two things

Carrie Gillon 

Right.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

“It’s almost as bad as the Barbie “math is hard.” It’s unlike the Spanish Flu only in the narrow sense that it hasn’t killed anyone. However, when you hear it enough, you may want to kill yourself.”

Megan Figueroa 

Okay, that’s offensive.

Carrie Gillon 

Right?

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

He then says “All affectations are annoying. On Slate’s DoubleX Gabfest, Hannah Rosen mentioned- mentioned Madonna’s late onset English accent, a comparison that works just fine for me.” Okay, those are two different things.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

Vocal fry is a thing that native speakers use within their own dialect.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

And Madonna putting on an English accent is different.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

And to some extent, putting on- or acquiring a second accent is not necessarily fully conscious. Because if you– she was living in London, she lived in London for a long time. And so some of it.

Megan Figueroa 

And married to someone that had.

Carrie Gillon 

Guy Ritchie.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. I hear he has a– well, an English accent.

Carrie Gillon 

He does. He’s very much English.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes.

Carrie Gillon 

So…

Megan Figueroa 

It’s fitting in. You want to be like the people around you.

Carrie Gillon 

Right. Speaking of this, what’s her name? Megan. Megan Merkel has also been accused of putting on an English accent. I think she’s been trained to do so…

Megan Figueroa 

That makes sense.

Carrie Gillon 

Because she’s now a member of the monarchy.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, she can do whatever she wants because she’s beautiful. And she has a beagle.

Carrie Gillon 

So there’s a lot of this blah, blah, blah. I’m just gonna skip to the end. There’s more. “Certainly speaking someone else’s speech patterns are no threat to me. As my critics observe, I’ve one foot in the grave anyway. Old fart is how Allison Benedikt raised it on the DoubleX Podcast. Also, I don’t disdain young women. I have three children in that very demographic. They’re nice. I like them. And some of my best friends have ovaries. Perhaps what Methas meant to suspect was that I get mad at creaky boys because it makes my flesh crawl. So I guess she was in the ballpark.” You have creak, dude.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, he definitely does. I did science and also the like whole– I have a mother or I have like a– I have a black friend or I have… WHY?

Carrie Gillon 

No don’t say it just never say it.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

“Oh my due, I totally up to the disdain and condescension charges. Those are dead on. I just don’t get quite get why that’s supposed to shame me.” You think disdain and condescension are good things? “Looking down on things you don’t like it’s not what condescension is for.” Well, then we look down on you.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes. Because you’re an asshole.

Carrie Gillon 

So anyway…

Megan Figueroa 

So whoever brought it up, that there was an apology. Thanks for bringing it up. I will use scare quotes around apology.

Carrie Gillon 

Not even close to an apology.

Megan Figueroa 

No. And whoever made the headline knew that.

Carrie Gillon 

Yes, yes. Yep.

Megan Figueroa 

Thanks for nothing, Bob.

Carrie Gillon 

You really are an old fart. Nothing wrong with that, but come on.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. And that wasn’t even my like objection in the first place.

Carrie Gillon 

No, it was don’t talk about anyone’s speech. You should definitely not make fun of anyone speech but if you’re going to you damn well better make sure you don’t have that feature as well. And you do so… Slow your roll.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, on my– on my drive over here, I was listening to podcast and I was like this man has vocal fry and no one notices it probably.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, they are almost all do. Yeah.

Megan Figueroa 

Another thing that kicks I guess we haven’t. It’s been a couple of weeks because we are traveling and some cancellations and stuff. So we were a little bit late this week. But we missed out on Merriam Webster’s new words. So they add to dictionary because as Neil Gaiman just said on Twitter, he says language is a river, not an ice cube.

Carrie Gillon 

I thought that was beautiful.

Megan Figueroa 

I know. Of course he says, beautiful.

Carrie Gillon 

That’s true. I mean, he is- he’s a real author.

Megan Figueroa 

He has a way with words. If I were to describe Neil Gaiman. What was really exciting for me is to see that Latinex got in there. Which is again the gender neutral way to say, Latino or Latina. And I was thinking that it’s- it made its way into the dictionary very quickly, because the other words that I’m seeing on here feel really old to me. So like, bougie would you say that you didn’t hear until you came to America? ‘merica?

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, no, it’s true. I didn’t.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, no, I was just thinking of the movie Captain America.

Carrie Gillon 

Oh yeah. It’s very different as a white Canadian coming to America, but yeah, no, it’s true. But maybe it’s because it sounds funny to Canadian ears because there’s– you know, like we would pronounce bourgeois that– closer to the French and so to say bougie is like, what?

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. I guess that is pretty… We’re just saying like, screw you French pronunciation.

Carrie Gillon 

Right. Which is fine. I mean, the r the French r is hard as–

Megan Figueroa 

It is.

Carrie Gillon 

Which comes up in this episode.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes, yes. Oh, I didn’t even really do that.

Carrie Gillon 

No, me neither.

Megan Figueroa 

Adorbs, which I’m like, how did that not get in there before? And…

Carrie Gillon 

Well, I would have thought maybe by now it had passed its time although, I guess I use it sometimes.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, I think it’s just like going back to the idea that we like cut off parts of words. So they also added marg for Margarita,

Carrie Gillon 

But that was definitely still used like

Megan Figueroa 

Yes.

I see that way more.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah.

Megan Figueroa 

And fave for favorite.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah.

Megan Figueroa 

Again, how was that not in there before? That’s what I’m thinking that latinex really took old really quickly.

Carrie Gillon 

That’s true fave especially seems really old.

Megan Figueroa 

Cool. Adding new words to dictionaries.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah.

Megan Figueroa 

It’s always just fluid.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s always fun to see what new ones they put in and everyone complains because everyone’s a curmudgeon.

Megan Figueroa 

So are we.

Carrie Gillon 

We are curmudgeonly about some things but not so much about language.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. Unless you’re being an asshole.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah. Yes, slurs I’m little bit more curmudgeonly about.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

Once again, just a reminder that we are supported by our listeners through Patreon and we have three new patrons from last month that we want to thank. Liz Essary James Stacy and once again, a former guest of ours Lu Capetta.

Megan Figueroa 

Who got so much shit for saying that South Jersey wasn’t a thing.

Carrie Gillon 

No Central Jersey.

Megan Figueroa 

Oh, Central Jersey, okay.

Carrie Gillon 

there’s North Jersey, there’s South Jersey. Eh, Central Jersey doesn’t exist.

Megan Figueroa 

I think that’s the most shit that any of our episodes ever gotten about anything.

Carrie Gillon 

Totally.

Megan Figueroa 

Which is just remarkable. Being like 20 something episodes into a podcast and only getting shit about Central Jersey. [both laugh]

Carrie Gillon 

It’s true. It’s true. Today our episode, we interview Nathalie Dajko from Tulane University, and we talk about varieties of French in Louisiana.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s pretty fun.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, I once again learn a lot of things. And I didn’t know it was so dire for French in Louisiana. So it’s very interesting.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, it’s really interesting. And then she speaks very fast. So if you are one of those people who listens at like one and a half or two times you might want to slow it down.

Megan Figueroa 

Yes, yes.

Carrie Gillon 

Just a– Just a warning. [music rolls] Today we have another guest from New Orleans, Dr. Nathalie Dajko from Tulane University. She’s an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and a linguist who works on French and English. But we’re more interested in the varieties of French of Louisiana. So that’s what we’re gonna talk about today. So welcome.

Nathalie Dajko 

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Carrie Gillon 

Thank you for being on.

Megan Figueroa 

So I guess like the simplest thing to start off with is what is French like in Louisiana? What like where do we begin?

Nathalie Dajko 

What is it like? It’s like French. Well, you know, actually, that’s a good actually, it’s a good starting point because there is this misconception from a lot of people that it’s going to be incomprehensible to people from France or to people from Quebec and it’s really not. I mean, I came here as a non-French speaker, a native French speaker, but I spoke standard French, and I was able to speak that French with people here. In fact, when I tried my first summer here I went to Plaquemines Parish a few other places. And when I spoke the way I’d spoken, because I spent the bulk of my time in Plaquemines and I spoke that way to people over in Terrabonne Lafourche, they were like we have no idea what because I was apparently messing it up because I hadn’t spent enough time doing it. So I had to go back to standard and then they were fine. So my attempts at Louisiana French were terrible, but they can– not to worry. They can understand each other, between Plaquemines. It was my bad Plaquemines French that was causing the problem, but no, I mean, it really is French and there are some differences for sure. But you know, a few lexical items that cause trouble sometimes, sure, some words that right– that people– that mean different things in different places or words that don’t exist in one place or another. Chaoui, for example, raccoon comes from Choctaw, that’s not used in France, or in Quebec for that matter, where they say raton laveur. But you know, the bulk of I mean, it’s French, it’s really- it’s really- it doesn’t take much effort to be able to understand each other.

Megan Figueroa 

Right. So it’s kind of like English. I mean, lexical items that you kind of misinterpret or don’t know what you’re talking about, like I’ve heard sprinkles are called Jimmy’s in the Northeast, and I’m like, you know, that might confuse me if I heard that. So

Nathalie Dajko 

Wait sprinkles are called what?

Megan Figueroa 

Jimmy’s.

Nathalie Dajko 

What kind of sprinkles?

Carrie Gillon 

All sprinkles that you put on ice cream. But the black ones in particular were originally called Jimmy’s

Nathalie Dajko 

Whoa.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Nathalie Dajko 

Okay, I’ve learned something new today. So but yeah, I mean, Louisiana Creole is a little more different structurally than the others but it’s actually close enough that I can understand a good deal. I mean, most of it almost. I have a recording of somebody speaking very, very quickly and that one I have a little more trouble with but the words are basically the same. And if you gave me a list of words, I wouldn’t be able to tell you whether this is creole or whether it’s– within linguistics anyway we call Louisiana original French, but structurally, yeah there are some significant differences that merit calling it something else right we call it Louisiana Creole because it’s structurally different but it’s- it’s nonetheless something that can be understood with a little bit of effort, right? So if I can understand it, but yeah, so where to start? What is it like? Do you want to know how it came to be?

Yeah, like what’s the history of it in the area.

Carrie Gillon 

So, we got a little hint of it, when we talked to Nicole Rosen from the University of Manitoba about Canadian French, so we have a little bit of a background, but none of our listeners have heard that episode.

Nathalie Dajko 

Like I haven’t. Canadian, I mean, Canadian French has a slightly different background than Louisiana French though they’re linked. But- But yeah, so early in Louisiana’s colonial history anyway, right, the French show up. The people who come here initially are going to be speakers of varieties of French that are similar to each other. They’re similar to modern standard French, but they’re not modern standard French, and they’re not even what might have passed for a standard at the time. Not that there was an official standard right, but we have people who are coming in primarily from Île-de-France which is the region that Paris is located in and the people who are coming in are generally not bourgeoisie types. They tend to be– the only people who want to go to a swamp, a mosquito infested swamp, right, are people who really well, you know, I mean, the few people who have some money I’m sure are coming over but overwhelmingly you’re getting people who see it as an opportunity to get land, for example, which is not possible in France at the time for various reasons. And so you end up– there’s a- there’s a great resistance in France to coming over here. The soldiers who are posted here are not happy, probably because they’re wearing wool uniforms in the Louisiana heat, but you know, and there are alligators and it’s terrifying and the mosquitoes. I mean, a friend of mine who- who is– I’m from, I’m from Vancouver, BC, I’m not from here. I’ve been here about 16 years now. But a friend of mine who is from New Orleans says, and he’s in his 60s now, right? So he’s like, look when I was a kid, what changed our lives really, I mean, transformed our lives was air conditioning and mosquito control. They come around with trucks now right and they spray for mosquitoes and so we have fewer mosquitoes, but I’ve heard people talk about how in the past the mosquitoes were so thick, they couldn’t go outside. And so your mom said we have to stay in that day because just oh my god. The air was black with mosquitoes and so mosquitoes are a serious problem here and nevermind that everybody is getting yellow fever and yellow fever is really unfortunate. I mean, for most people yellow fever is just going to be I feel bad whatever like any other kind of flu like illness but for a lucky 15%, they go septic which means they turn yellow, and then they start bleeding from their mouths and then it’s in their noses it’s really and the lucky 7% die because– and the other half, and the other half want to die right because it’s miserable but. So yellow fever right all these it’s just- it’s miserable right in the colony and the food is weird. And you know, etc. They’re all these things are not what they’re used to. And so they’re you know, they’re going back to France at the end of their military tour and they’re like, don’t go there. The people in France really are not finding this an appealing solution. So I mean, eventually people do go over and the people who are coming over are people who are going to be speakers, predominantly, we know roughly that they were not upper class, middle class types and we also know that at the time in France, there are people commenting specifically the cardinal issue who says like seven– I forget exactly what the quote is– but some really pathetically small percentage of people in France speak French well, by which he means right, y’all are speaking terribly. So basically, we know that you know, people are coming over they-re- they’re from this social class that’s unlikely to speak a standard French or they’re from regions that are not the region in which what would become modern standard French was spoken, and so they’re speaking something similar. And we hear today there are descendant dialects in those areas that are very similar to what we hear in Louisiana, and presumably to what it was in the past as a result as well. It’s- it hasn’t been that long either, right. So, but nonetheless, they’re bringing over these non standard dialects that are similar to each other that are not modern standard, and that is going to be what’s spoken early in the colony. Administrators obviously on various others who might come from different social classes who are going to be writing there may be some people speaking what’s closer to- to modern standard as well. But the bulk of the population is not speaking something very standard. And so that’s sort of the what underlies, well, it gets complicated after that, because at the same time, right as of 1719, they’re bringing in Africans who are going to have to learn French and this is the French that they’re going to learn right because that’s what’s around them. And so they’re going to take this French, and they’re going to transform it structurally to become Louisiana Creole. And so they are the creators of this other variety, Louisiana Creole, the base of which is this non standard French. And so this is what’s going on at the end of the French period, right? We have these two groups. We have enslaved people, we have free people, most of whom are going to be European, but nonetheless, they’re going to be others as well. But you have these two types of French spoken right you have this Creole and you have this non standard other French that’s a mix of all these nonstandard similar dialects. And so into this mix during the Spanish period are going to come Acadians from Canada and the early settlers as well. I mean, the very early settlers in New Orleans included some Canadians as well coming down from Quebec and so on. So they’re part of the mix right? So non standard French from Canada, non standard French from France. All of these people are mixing here are all these non standard French’s that have a lot of similarities, but into this mix with– now we get the Acadians. During the Spanish period, you get a few Spanish speakers as well in the form of these Leno’s Spanish tents. They have the same problem recruiting people that the French had.

In the middle of all this, incidentally, there were a few German speakers who settled up and what’s now the German Coast about 30 miles from the city who- who were basically lured over here with false promises of mountains and– oh, it was bad. There was a propaganda campaign but. So they came over, they’re a couple hundred of them living up river. They eventually are going to start speaking French as well because French is hegemonic, right. It’s dominant in the area. So in any case, the Acadians are going to come down starting in 1764. So for about 20 years, 1764 to 1785-ish, we see the bulk of Acadian immigration, and they’re going to– they’re- that’s going to be about 3000 people coming in. About 1500 in the 1760s and the other half in 17– in the mid 1780s. During that period, though, the- the population of Louisiana is going to increase. So at the end of the French period, right roughly 1760, you get– there’s about 10,000 people here free and enslaved. And into that mix, we get about 1500 Acadians. And they’re going to settle to- to the west around Lafayette there’s a couple sent up to Natchez they don’t like it. There are a few sent up to Natchez, they come back down to join their friends and relatives elsewhere. The second wave of Acadians are going to come in when the population has basically quadrupled, right by now the population is closer to 40,000. And that’s not just natural, you know, these are Catholics, sure, but in the space of 20 years, they’re not going to make 40,000 People that easily so there’s some immigration too, but nonetheless the population is predominantly Franc– predominantly these other non standard French’s but these Acadians are gonna speak something very similar. They come from another. In France could basically be split into north south, much like the American north south, right? We have a dialect region where we have southern dialects. We have northern dialect, same thing in France, you have a line that basically cuts France in half where you have southern dialects and northern dialects and the Acadians came initially from France to Acadia, which is now Nova Scotia from an area where they spoke northern dialects and it’s a northern dialect that becomes modern standard French as well. In any case, they come down here, they’re going to settle out west at first, the second group is going to come in they’re going to be around Tibideaux, just north-ish of Tibideaux. And they sort of trickle down the Bayo a little bit, but that’s primarily where you’re Acadians are, and the two groups are kind of at odds for a little while. After the Civil War, there’s this entire social collapse, and that’s when groups start mixing. And so between the arrival of that second group of Acadians and the Civil War, right, the Americans takeover, English comes in. A lot of English comes in, in the form of Americans coming in from the Virginia– from Virginia from the Carolinas. We also have, in the city, we have a large number of Germans, we have Irish who were also speaking English.

Megan Figueroa 

Wait what was English doing before then? In the area before the Civil War?

Nathalie Dajko 

It had a minimal presence.

Megan Figueroa 

Okay.

Nathalie Dajko 

I mean, there was this whole you know, French– The reason that France in fact cedes Louisiana to the Spanish is because they’re losing the Seven Years War, which is called the French and Indian War here. And so they don’t want the British to get this territory so they secretly give it to the Spanish, right? So there’s this resistance, in fact, a lot of the settlement patterns right, we’re going to put these Acadians the Spanish are now going to put Acadians in strategic places to try and block the British from moving, right? So which is… anyway. So– So I mean, I’m sure there were some English speakers, but there’s this influx of English that comes in with the Americans in 1803. And especially with statehood in 1812. Irish as well is going to be part of Irish English that is going to be part of the English mix as well, especially in the city. A lot of Germans come in. Also coming in during the early 19th century are people coming in from France who are refugees from Napoleon’s war who were Napoleonic supporters, right, Bonapartitse who are going to come in. They’re also– they’re also a little more Bourgeois. They speak– they speak basically, I mean, what passes for modern standard French, a few lexical differences a little bit, but it’s really not that different. That’s going to come into the mix here too. At the same time you have people in Louisiana who have maintained contact with friends, right. So the plantation society, people with a lot of money are going to send their kids to France to go to school. There are also schools set up in New Orleans that are run by people from France who speak standard French. Modern standard, basically modern standard French, and so those who have the money to go to these fancy schools, whether it’s here are whether it’s in France are learning modern standard French, and they’re bringing that with them to Louisiana. And so, ultimately, what we have in Louisiana are in the early period, a non standard French that we, I mean, obviously it’s not documented because back in the day, there weren’t any recordings made. So nobody was really caring to write that down. And so we really don’t– we can only infer from the way people speak today from things that are said about the way people speak this kind of thing about this– about the French from the place- places they’re from and how people there speak today, right, and so on. So we have a non standard French that properly would be called colonial French. We have Acadian French as part of the mix and the– and we have Louisiana Creole. And then coming into this is the standard French and what happens is following the Civil War, there’s this collapse of society and so this very standard French is more accurately termed plantation society French. And there are going to be people who maintain a sort of standard French especially in places like New Orleans and especially- especially in places where the wealthy hung out like Grand Isle, and so you find a uvular r the “rr” that everybody has trouble with when they’re learning French. I mean, I have trouble with the other are the Spanish “hrr”, but I just– I did it. Okay.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. I was like, there it is.

Nathalie Dajko 

That– I can’t do it. I cannot do it in the middle of a word. It’s just not possible. But in isolation, I sometimes get it but okay. But there’s a collapse of society. And so people start intermarrying at really high rates, and so there’s going to be influenced from all these different French’s, right? And especially the French that is spoken by people in the countryside, they’re going to start mixing Acadians with non Acadians of various types and so what we now call Cajun French it’s what’s most often called Cajun French by its speakers is a mix of these non standard dialects of Acadian French of to some degree at least the plantation society French and that becomes what most people call Cajun French. In linguistics it’s kind of complicated because people will often call their language by the name they call themselves so if they call themselves Creole they call their language Creole; if they call themselves Cajun, they call their language Cajun. Generally speaking, most speakers of Creole are going to be people of mixed race or I don’t want to say there’s nobody who’s exclusively anything, right? So but people who would otherwise also call themselves black or who would say I’m of mixed ancestry tend to call themselves Creole and call their language Creole. The people who identify as white slash Cajun tend to call themselves Cajun tend to call their language Cajun. That said there are people who call themselves Cajun, but would speak what linguistically we would say is Creole– is Louisiana Creole and there are people who call themselves Creole who speak what linguistically we would otherwise call Cajun French and because of that, right, that problem of labels and so that’s why in linguistics we call it Louisiana Regional French rather than Cajun French which implies the name Cajun implies a- a direct relationship exclusively to Acadia. Which, right, people hear this word Cajun, they say– Acadian– and that’s where it comes from, right? Cajun is Acadian caper Acadien, right there’s a process in Acadian French and here where you pronounce “dja” like in English, “would you” becomes “wodja” so Acadien become Acadien [Aca-jun] becomes Cajun and so…

Woah. You blew my mind. No idea where Cajun came from. Okay.

Well, a lot of people hear this and they- they recognize this link and they say oh well, it’s just Acadian French and it doesn’t matter how many times I give this lecture. I’m not the only one giving it. I still hear that Oh, Cajun is Acadian. No, no, no, no, that’s part of it. Yes, absolutely. It’s part of it. But it’s not the only thing and I have a friend who says, you know, there are Acadians in- in Canada there are Acadians in Maine but Cajun only happened one time, and it’s because Cajun is this thing that happens here in Louisiana right? It’s a mix of all these other things for that matter Creole is often used interchangeably with Cajun by people who are not from here.

Carrie Gillon 

Right.

Nathalie Dajko 

And so I get questions about– can you tell me about the Cajun Creole? And I’m like, well, I don’t even know what you mean by that. Or they exchange the terms linguistically. Structurally there are some differences between Louisiana Creole and Louisiana Regional French and from standard French for that matter. They all three– there are definitely differences between the three. Plantation society French, if it’s still spoken and spoken by like three people, I don’t know where they are. Periodically you hear rumors there’s someone in New Orleans who speaks French but– but it’s been a good decade since anybody– I did interview a woman who spoke French growing up but she’d forgotten it by the time I interviewed her and she’s since died. You’re not getting a lot of people speaking very standard French, that plantation society French, in in Louisiana anymore. There are definitely regions that have been influenced by it like Grand Isle where do you get that uvular r. In Louisiana today, there are really two varieties that are still spoken. And it’s primarily by older people. You have Louisiana Regional French, which some people prefer just to call Louisiana French. For that matter, there are indigenous people, right, who also speak this language is another reason we give it that term instead of Cajun right because Cajun implies this ethnic group and it’s the- the linguistic lines aren’t drawn that easily. And we have people speaking Louisiana Creole and Creole’s in further decline than than Louisiana Regional French, but they’re both endangered. When I was doing my fieldwork 10 years ago, 11 years ago. Oh my god, okay. 10 and 11 years ago, there were some kids who were learning it but very, very few. It’s really, really rare. But that said there’s a lot of promise it’s not dead yet. It’s still got a chance. There is hope. There are people who are dedicated around Lafayette especially there’s a group of young people who are very much dedicated to bringing the language back. You know, people all over the state who hold these tables. Tableau Hall says where they get together just to talk French. We’re just going to hang out to speak French. And so it takes a community to do it right. Somebody once asked when I gave a presentation, the first- when I first got here, I took this class on Louisiana French. We went out, we interviewed people, and then we gave a presentation. And some of the people we’d interviewed came to the presentation and said well, what are you going to do to save French? And someone in the back who was a linguistics professor, “If I may, they can’t do it, by the way that they can do something they can maybe prepare pedagogical materials for your schools and so on. It really takes is a community of people who speak it all the time.” Because even I mean my son is four we were in France for a year. And it took him about two weeks once we got back to the states for him to realize that oh, no one here speaks French and now he refuses if we speak French he yells at us.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Nathalie Dajko 

And people kids will refuse, right there’s- there. They know what’s going on around them. So you really have to make it something they want to do and people have to speak it around them. Otherwise, it just becomes this thing you do in school, but whatever. And which is a way of saving it, and I’m not saying the schools are part of it.

Megan Figueroa 

Why is it in decline? Is it because– are there pejorative or negative views of these two things?

Nathalie Dajko 

Oh, sure.

Megan Figueroa 

So is that why you think it’s in decline? Or what is?

Nathalie Dajko 

Well, it’s in decline because English comes in, the Americans come in and that’s where the money is, right? Industry is now done in English. Everything is done in English. And there’s already a move to go toward English by at least the middle classes who speak French in the- in the mid 19th century. It’s a long process of decline. It really picks up speed especially in rural areas after World War II. It’s a two tiered process, right, where around World War I there’s already this sort of Americanization thing going on anti German sentiment, right, etc, etc. We’re all going to be Americans, we’re all going to speak English, and there’s a push to speak English is also the Louisiana constitution. A line is put in there. I mean, the Constitution is actually gone back and forth about schooling in French over time, but in 1921, they- they add a line that says English will be the language of instruction in schools. So that’s, I mean, that’s not verbatim, but basically. And it’s literally one line and that’s all it says is that you’re going to speak English in the schools. Free of instruction. Some people take that a little too far. I hear varied reports of you know, I spoke English. They had to write lines that say– said I will not speak– I will not speak French on the school grounds i.e. at all. I had a guy tell me his father came– marched over to the school– and said Look, it says right here he is- that he has to be taught in English, but it says nothing about what he can speak on the school grounds you leave him alone, right. So clearly there were teachers who took this much further than- than even the Constitution suggested they should. Other in other places it was- I get a lot of oh no, my teachers were very nice. It really depends on where you went. But it’s clear that overwhelmingly, you don’t even need to punish somebody right? You get stories of kids having to kneel on raw rice or raw corn, because they’ve spoken French and so on, but– or having their fingers rapped with a ruler which really hurts.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah. Now this is like exactly what happened with Spanish in the southwest.

Nathalie Dajko 

Right. Yeah, it’s a lot. I mean, it happens in a lot of places, right? And, but you don’t even need to punish people for speaking their language to make…

Megan Figueroa 

No.

Nathalie Dajko 

them feel bad about it. Right. You know, people people tell me that this priest came in and he told us that wasn’t really French we were speaking. That we were just making things up. And I’m like, and you believed him, right? But like, but what did he speak French? No, he was an English speaker. And he just made these assumptions, but he was a person in authority, and they were made fun of for speaking French. It becomes associated especially when the upper classes abandon it now it’s, you know, the- the language of poverty, the language of rural etc. Negative things in general, right? So it’s a lot– it- there are a lot of factors that combine. You don’t need to punish people to make them feel bad about their language, right? You can just tell them it’s broken. And so they tell me my– but we speak a broken French, it’s not the real French. And so depending on where we go in many places, people are very proud and they want to be interviewed. And they in fact, it was they who said to me, what are you going to do with these interviews? Can you put them in the library so that, you know we have access to them? And I was like, well, that’s perfect, right? They were the ones who requested that. But there are definitely places I’ve been where people have said we speak French, but I don’t like it.

Megan Figueroa 

But I wonder if those people that are proud now if they went through a period where they were very embarrassed. Do- do they mention that or?

Nathalie Dajko 

Some of them yes. Some of them very clearly. Their children, for example, they didn’t teach them to– them French because they didn’t want them to be punished or to be shamed even like they had been, but they’ve regretted it over time. Especially, I mean, in the mid– in the mid 60s, going into the 70s, there’s a big push in America to do the reverse, right? A lot of the French– I sort of broke off with the story, right– but in the 19– in the 1920s you have a generation of kids who are going to school though not everybody is actually going to school as it turns out, I have people going oh yeah, I went to one day of the first grade, and then I left. But overwhelmingly people are going to school and they’re going in English, and there’s motivation to speak English economically as well. Right, jobs are in English. And this is especially true after World War II. And that’s where you see just a precipitous decline. But it’s the first generation that has the option to speak to their kids in French, right? They were- they went to school, and they went home and their parents didn’t speak English. This generation went to school in English and they continue to speak French at home, but now they have the choice. They have these kids and they’re saying what are we going to do? We can speak English so let’s do that. Let’s, and French becomes a language they use when they want to keep secrets from their kids, which works to varying degrees. There are a lot of people who understand French, but don’t speak it as a result of this. But yeah, so you see this precipitous decline right after the war and especially there’s a pro-America. But also there’s this economic boom, right? We’re all gonna speak English, but there’s an economic boom that- that promotes it too. I mean, what do you want– what’s more important to you? Speaking French or getting electricity down this Bayou. Right, so clearly, who doesn’t love electricity? Right, and who doesn’t want to have a job? Nobody wants to live in destitution. Right, and- and so French English is the language of all these– the access to- to security- to economic security. And so, the motivation to switch to English is really strong even without punishment, shaming, etc. While that is occurring simultaneously. So yeah, in the 60s and 70s, there’s definitely across America a reclamation of ethnic identity, Let’s all celebrate our- our background, etc. And it’s especially I think, during those periods, which they come a little later, some places and others but you have people now saying I regret not teaching my kids because they don’t have the option to speak French to their kids now unless they make some Herculean effort to learn it and then speak it. I mean, I don’t speak French to my son, right, because I speak it fluently. I speak two dialects at least right? My husband speaks like three dialects of French. He speaks French we- well enough to pass for French when we’re in France, and yet we don’t speak it to our son because it’s not our native language because it would be strange to us because we speak to each other in English. And if we can’t do it, right, somebody who already doesn’t speak French is going to have to first go learn French this is going to be an enormous effort. Right? So, and there’s a lot of misconception too. There are people who- who are native French speakers who say, Oh, it’s okay. My grandson as soon as he learns English, I’m going to teach him French because they’ve somehow been sold a line that suggests that- that a child won’t be able to learn two languages simultaneously, right? That one is going to mess up the other and that’s going to be bad when in fact the reverse is true. Yes, it’s true. There’s a slight delay in acquiring- in acquiring language when you’re bilingual but you catch up and then you do much better in general. Cognitive- cognitively in general, there’s a benefit to speaking two languages and…

Monolingual kids are actually being underused. Brains are being underused.

Yes.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Nathalie Dajko 

So yeah, but I mean, there are a lot of factors that go into this, right? Why are people not speaking French? I mean, and there are still people who are still ashamed. I mean, I’ve been in places like Tibideaux I’ve met people for whatever reason. Right? The urban areas tend to be far more ashamed of- of French than than the rural areas. And so you– that’s where I’ve met people who have said things like yeah, I speak it, but I really don’t like the fact that I speak it. Or you know, this is bad French. There’s a lot of that going around. People will tell me yeah, because I’m looking for people to- to interview and I’m hey, do you speak French? Yeah, but we speak that broken French and like no, no, that’s what we need. That’s what we’re interested in. And like, Really? And then they’re surprised but okay. And then they get excited about it, but– because they do love their language, and they know how outsiders see it sometimes. But that said, there’s also been an increase in awareness of- of– of ethics value. You have tourism, when the French people are coming literally to hear you talk, right, and not to make fun of you, it’s a good thing. When this is actually now financially viable. This is a thing that’s gonna get me I can take tours, people on tours, and my speaking French is now an advantage. That matters too. Right. So, increasingly, I think there’s a lot of awareness that French is not bad whether it’s come too late, I hope not. There is still a chance but- but it would take, yeah, effort. That said French has also had a lot of influence on Louisiana English, so.

Megan Figueroa 

It just makes me so sad to think that some people think that they don’t have anything to offer like- like their language- they don’t have any– My language is not something that you want.

Carrie Gillon 

It’s very common. Very common.

Megan Figueroa 

It’s so common, it’s everywhere.

Nathalie Dajko 

The problem with non standard dialects in English, it’s common. You know, it’s the same relationship for that matter that you get with any non standard dialect that people know– people tend to know when they don’t speak standard, right, and they know what people think and what the associations are, and how unfair, it’s entirely unfair. There’s– none of these are you know, there’s nothing about any dialect about any language that- that indicates stupidity for example, laziness. These are the things that are usually associated with non standards. And so there’s nothing about that language that actually is stupid or lazy or etc. But there are all these associations, social associations, right? Because the people have been accused of these things. They’re not, but you know, they’ve been accused of it. Therefore, their language is also, right, indicative of this somehow inherent to it, but it’s a problem across the board that consistently I encounter. But…

Megan Figueroa 

When you ask people if they know French, and they say, Oh, I know the broken kind. Is it speakers of both dialects that will say?

Nathalie Dajko 

Oh yeah. Absolutely.

Megan Figueroa 

Okay, so just across the board, they think they speak broken French.

Nathalie Dajko 

We speak broken French or we don’t speak the good French of the de l’autre bord, from the other side of the ocean, right? The other we’re like, no, no, we don’t want French, right? And, so sometimes there’s even in Terrabonne Lafourche I came across very rarely but nonetheless people who felt Lafayette was better than they were because for example, in Terrabonne Lafourche, they have a single pronoun for who and what. So it’s qui regardless of whether it’s who or what. So what do you have in your hand? Is qui est-ce que tu as dans la main ? Okay, which- which of course that construction qu’est-ce que tu as is different than you would have in standard French, but out west it would be quoi tu as dans tu main? or qu’as tu as depending on. But, in any case, same thing. And so they’re like but? So we went to this meeting once. My- my assistant and I were sitting there and the guys are telling us well, you know, out in Latvia they have they have two pronouns. We just have this one. And so my friend says Oh, but they use qua as a crutch. And I was like, ok. So we’re joking, right, and I’m like, Well, no, it’s not right, because y’all are streamlined, right? You’ve got it down. They did not want to hear our opinions on this. We’re trying to convince them that it’s really okay but they’re like, No, it’s not. And they were meeting literally to like– they would week– every month they would meet and they would go to the dictionary in between, right? They would all look up words and they would say here’s a word. We don’t have it. We should have it, right? Our language is deficient in some way because we don’t have this word. Sometimes. I mean, the classic was we don’t have this word. It’s a kind of tree but we don’t have those kinds of trees here. I’m like, it’s probably why you don’t have the word.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah exactly. Aw.

Nathalie Dajko 

Just a guess, but… But no- but they were very insecure about their French, and it was really a shame.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, so is the only good- good French quote unquote good French, the one in France?

Nathalie Dajko 

Oh, no, not at all.

Megan Figueroa 

To them?

Nathalie Dajko 

No, no, no.

Megan Figueroa 

Okay.

Nathalie Dajko 

And one of the questions we often ask is, you know, which French do you think should be– do you think French should be taught in the schools and universally it’s a yes. Unless you go to Tibideaux but increasingly in Tibideaux, and I’m don’t mean to disparage to them– there are plenty of people in Tibideaux who do love French but that’s where I’ve encountered negative attitudes, right? Though not necessarily often, it’s the English-speaking population that’s extremely negative toward French there. To which French do you think should be speaking– should be taught in the school and sometimes a very often, people will say it doesn’t matter. Any French is good and whatever, right? Because they know that they can understand standard and it’s a good starting point and whatever. And so it doesn’t matter. It’s French. And others- but very often you get people saying, No, it should be our French. Because that’s the French that identifies them, right? This is the French they identify with that reflects their own background that reflects the place they live and so on. And so that’s the French they want in the schools. So– and so they clearly are very proud– you know, when people are telling me please put this in the library and please record– it’s you know, I had a student contact me once from- from another university saying my professor said I should call you, you know, and ask you for a recording. I wanted to come down there and do some recordings, but he said I didn’t have the time to build up the necessary trust, and I’m like, You mean the 10 seconds between like my saying hello? And they’re going, you press that button, right? Because they want their– they hear somebody is interested, that somebody wants to document this thing, but it’s very important to them. And it’s their identity, right? It’s your- your language is the way you express yourself. It’s not just, you know, this is my cultural background, but this is me. This is how I express– this is how I tell a joke, and that’s how you see my sense of humor. And this is how my personality is coming across, and this is everything is tied up and in this language and so to lose it is- it’s very personal. And so somebody comes in saying, hey, I want to document and they’re like, yes, press that button. No, it’s I mean, the ease with which one can find people to interview is reflective of the fact that people really do care about their language. They love their language. They’re often very proud of their language. Especially the ones who in Sec– in the Second World War, for example, were sent to Europe and discovered, you know, or well they knew what they always knew, but that they would have other guys in their unit telling them, Ah you don’t speak French. Your’s is like Greek to them. You’re not gonna be able to talk to people and then they get there and sure enough, they can and they’re the translator, right? And suddenly, they’re promoted, because now they can talk to- to all these people. There was a great story. I still have to put it up at my website, that one guy gave us. His commander kept telling him this French was terrible. It wasn’t really French, whatever. But then, so then they get to France, and it turns out that oh he does speak French. So the commander is going hey, give me a date with the waitress here, right, so. Alright, alright, alright. So the guy, he goes yeah. So I told him all right, yeah, she’s gonna meet you, you know at seven o’clock, whatever, whatever. But I met her at six instead. So. But no, especially when you’ve had that validating experience of going to France and having all these guys say yeah, you don’t speak French and then you get there. Oh, what was that? What was that you said? Like, Oh, you need me to translate for you. Right? Okay. Right. But.

Megan Figueroa 

There’s a lot of people like me and our listeners who listen to this and just feel like they want to do something. Is there anything that we can do besides just being aware of the situation that’s happening and like, appreciate like, I don’t know like, is there a takeaway from this where we could help in any way or?

Nathalie Dajko 

I mean, from outside the situation, it’s hard to say. I mean, the first thing people can do is…

Megan Figueroa 

Right?

Nathalie Dajko 

Recognize, right, that any non standard dialect, whether it’s of French or of anything else is valuable and is rule governed and is just as logical and etc, as any other. I mean, even logically, right? How could you communicate with each other if you weren’t following the same system of rules, right? I’m just going to throw random words at you, and you’re going to say, oh, oh, of course. That doesn’t even make sense, right? But- but to recognize that the way people speak is not a corruption of the standard is- is- is important, and it’s something I’m always- I always wished that people who have to go into education would have to take the class on- on social linguistics because…

Megan Figueroa 

Yes!

Nathalie Dajko 

I’ve had so many people write in the comments, I thought that you know, XYZ was just bad English until I took this class and if you’re going into, potentially, into a classroom where kids are going to speak non standard English, you should understand where those come from, how they develop, that they’re not, you know, a bad attempt at the standard.

Megan Figueroa 

Because kids will like take anything you say and just like internalize it.

Nathalie Dajko 

Right. Oh, no, you don’t even need to say it. They look around, and they think everything they see is normal. And that’s– and that it exists this way because it is good, and it should be. And to explain to kids that some things are because of prejudice and what prejudice even is right to the small child, but they know this really early as I’m learning with a small child. I mean, I read about it, but it doesn’t really. Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure. And then it happens to you, and you’re like, oh, oh, okay. My son is deeply upset because his teacher keeps talking about the washroom instead of the bathroom. She says the washroom is the bathroom and this is clearly. I’ve been remiss because it’s Canadian ism, and I obviously haven’t been using it enough, but ok. But he’s three– or four now– and it bugs him that she uses this word that’s wrong, obviously, because no one else uses it. She knows no one else uses it except her but okay. But I mean, I’m sure CODOFIL would like some money. I’m sure they take donations, but CODOFIL is the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana and they work to promote French by bringing in teachers by training Louisianans to become teachers, which is a, you know,

Megan Figueroa 

Great. Yeah.

Nathalie Dajko 

Better option, right, than just bringing people in from elsewhere, but to promote French, economically, etc. What can you do as an outsider? That’s a good question.

Carrie Gillon 

Well, I always think that one of the things you can do is tell– if you hear anybody say something disparaging.

Nathalie Dajko 

Yes.

Carrie Gillon 

You can say no.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah.

Nathalie Dajko 

Absolutely.

Megan Figueroa 

Don’t be an asshole.

Nathalie Dajko 

Right.

Megan Figueroa 

Really?

Nathalie Dajko 

You’re wrong.

Carrie Gillon 

Obviously, you have to like modulate for the person because some people you can be more mean to because they’re your know your sibling or something. Like try to just push back.

Nathalie Dajko 

That can be really hard to convince people that…

Carrie Gillon 

It is really hard.

Nathalie Dajko 

that any non standard dialect is good in the first place and not bad and it’s not speaking English. Oh, the classic of course, is that French is useless. Because today everybody should be learning Spanish or even Arabic or Chinese. And I’m not saying those aren’t useful languages. They are. But French also is very important. It’s spoken by a large, large percentage of the globe. It’s still a diplomatic language in many places. There are many economic benefits to speaking French that– there, I mean, I’ve traveled and had to use French when I traveled because people didn’t speak English, which is unusual. But it happens every now and again that you go somewhere and French becomes the lingua franca, it’s still a very important world language and people forget that.

Megan Figueroa 

And you can’t discount the personal connection to that.

Nathalie Dajko 

And that too, especially down here, right so but yeah. To actually save Louisiana French, oof. That is something that the community itself, right. It’s just going to take

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah.

Nathalie Dajko 

It’s– I can make as many teaching manuals and I’ll do what I can, but, and I do my part by stressing that it really is French and not, you know, something else. That’s a- That’s a whole complicated issue too. There are people who very much in some places would prefer that their language be acknowledged as different and separate. That is not the case in Louisiana. So in Louisiana, there– it very much– it is French and just to remind people that it is French and here’s how it’s the fact that I can walk in and speaking standard French and have no problems is indicative of this right so…

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah.

Nathalie Dajko 

Or very few problems. Every now and again a word is really not– there are a few structures that are different, right, so to be- to be doing something in France. Well okay, in standard French, je mange is either I eat or I am eating. In Louisiana if you want to say I am eating obligatorily you have ways of distinguishing it of specifying in France that you are currently eating specifically je suis en train de manger. But in Louisiana, you obligatorily have to say je suis après mangé. I am after eating quite literally.

Carrie Gillon 

Right.

Nathalie Dajko 

And so, and so there’s a difference. If you- if you say je mange it does not mean– it’s not either or, it’s habitually I eat. I eat every Tuesday, right? Vs. je après manger or j’ai après manger, very often the ai is left out. But in any case, though, that- that- that will be a structural difference between standard French and Louisiana French, but it’s not a big thing, right?

Carrie Gillon 

Right.

Nathalie Dajko 

It must be. It’s really easy to catch on to in two minutes. You’ve got it, and there you go.

Megan Figueroa 

The only reason standard French is standard French is because of power.

Nathalie Dajko 

Precisely. Ironically, the revolution that spread this language of the bourgeoisie we’re all gonna be equals– we’re all going to be equals by speaking the language of the elites. Let’s do it. But yeah, Liberty, equality, ok. But no, it’s actually interesting because somebody a few years ago put a video on YouTube of clips of French from- from Louisiana and from France. And, I’m not sure– I had the high score along with a bunch of Louisianans. We were able to– but I was guessing for half of them. In all honesty, luck in some cases. I had no idea whether these people were from France or from Louisiana. They were rural speakers from places like Normandy or various parts of rural France and in some cases, I guess I’m not even sure what led me to guess right, but there it was, but it was really hard to do, right, because the similarity between Louisiana French and non-standard Frenches in France is very, very high.

Carrie Gillon 

That’s interesting.

Nathalie Dajko 

If you live in Louisiana, the best thing you can do is support other people’s desire to- to revive their language, right? If there’s– I know there’s a fundraiser going on around here sometime soon. I’d have to look it up what it is. To support French immersion education in the North Shore. There’s some issues there, but.

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, send that to us, and we can post it.

Nathalie Dajko 

Oh, okay. I’ll have to look it up.

Carrie Gillon 

But okay, so one last thing before we go. So very, very long, towards the beginning of this conversation, you mentioned that there’s a French influence on the English and Louisiana. Can you give us some examples?

Nathalie Dajko 

Easily. Okay. Especially in the countryside, you get– well okay. The classic actually is to use the word mais meaning “but” to preface a statement. Mais whatever. Mais- mais have you seen the thing. Mais did you go to the store? Mais yeah, I went. Mais yeah. Especially mais yeah, mais no. But that use of mais has increasingly just been used sort of to indicate I’m South Louisiana, right, this is my identity. But you get– you get a number of words that are borrowed in. Boude to pout. Envy, to have an envy for something, to want something, right. Try to think of another example. Parrain marraine, parrain marraine, right, however they’re pronounced in English. I always mess it up because I do so much. But godmother and godfather, but especially godfather has stuck. Parrain has stuck around in English, though increasingly, it’s disappearing. When I did a survey on this a few years ago, it was disappearing in the city, but banquette in the city was used until recently for the sidewalk. We have expressions like make groceries which comes from French faire cours. It’s a calc of French expressions. We have a number of expressions like that. If you go to the countryside especially you hear phonologically the English has been influenced by French so– it was a friend of mine a few years ago who was studying specifically Cajun– Boudreau, and Tibideaux jokes in Cajun English. And so she was interviewing these guys and she had it on tape and she foolishly gave me the recording and now I’ve lost it. But it was great, right because she’s talking and at some point, they start making fun of her and the way she says okay, they’re like, okay, okay, okay. Right, and they’re doing these imitations. She’s like, Wait, oh, are you making fun of me? And she’s like, What? How am I supposed to say it. They were like, oh, kay, right? So without– without the off line. That’s all wrong. And I was like, no. So So yeah, there’s definitely vowels– a friend- my field assistant was like it’s hilarious when you try to speak, you know. I have an easy time speaking Cajun French because all the sounds are the same, right? We have those sounds in English here. And you don’t and then he would try to teach me to quote unquote, talk flat. And he would laugh even harder when I got it right. Because coming from me for some reason, it was extremely funny, but, right, because it’s non-standard, right? And here I am. No, no, this is really good. We’re gonna get you to do it again. So we can laugh even harder. But, but a lot of those sounds, right. Generally in most– in many English dialects, but in Standard English dialects we tend to pronounce o, e with these little nwew, it’s kind of messy at the end and French is very o, e [stacatto]. Right and Spanish does this as well. And that is transferred into a– it’s not aae it’s a and that transfers into English and Louisiana as well. So we have words we have expressions, we– but we even have sounds, right, that have transferred, and it’s like learning French with an accent, right? But then that accent stays. The next generation learns that accented French and those are the sounds that become their English and so. In that way French is left an enormous mark but it’s also lifted enormous mark psychologically, right? People think about French they associate French with Louisiana, and they use it to assert Louisiana identity. And so, in New Orleans, where if you- if you know a French speaker, please- please call me we’d like to document them. But like it’s been decades- a decade at least since any one of us who studies it has been able to track anyone down. I’m sure they’re out there. But I mean, there are some semi speakers for sure. Fluent speakers? I don’t know. But, so in the city where 90% plus of the last- the last two censuses for that matter, over 90% of the population has said we only speak English, but French they’ll start—

Megan Figueroa

whoa

Nathalie Dajko 

Right? And they still talk about being French and speaking French and how we use French here. And so you end up with EAUX right from the spelling of Boudreaux, Tibideaux, etc. etc now being used to represent any o sound. Geaux Saints has an EAUX, although that would be jeaux, so the French come here and they’re like, “what’s ‘jeaux’?”

Carrie Gillon 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nathalie Dajko 

What’s taco loco? It’s taso loso. Right, whatever. And so. Hey, have you noticed this and my friend is like, oh, yeah, go tell them that. They’ll appreciate that. The last thing they want to hear is you telling them they’ve spelled it wrong. But- but they play– there was a snow day right and people were– I got this text saying it was snowing. SNEAUX and I was like, alright. Snow, got it. But that EAUX is used all over the place, but it’s a reference to French right? It’s a direct like French, French, French and so French still plays a very big role in the imagination, in people’s identity, knowing that historically it was French, knowing that their ancestors spoke French even if they don’t speak it themselves, though many people still do. But in that way it lives on sort of beyond its- its lifespan that– we’ll see what happens. There’s still a chance it could come back in some places anyway. Here in the city. Yeah, French Immersion is a different thing. Right? They’re teaching in different French.

Megan Figueroa 

Yeah, absolutely.

Nathalie Dajko 

Down the Bayou, places where you still have a large percentage of people who do speak French, if they just start speaking to their grandkids and then you’d have to motivate the grandchildren to speak in another context too, but they would have that base right so. And the school is a part of it and everything in the community is– it’s a large– it’s a community effort involving government entities, like the schools, but also but especially involving private interactions, right? The schools can’t do it alone. I certainly can’t do it alone. I’ll do what I can to help in producing materials, whatever, but one person can’t do it. Right. So. And outsiders can’t do it. They can support it, but it really, it will be an inside effort.

Megan Figueroa 

Exactly.

Carrie Gillon 

Absolutely.

Nathalie Dajko 

But they can do it. I know they can.

Carrie Gillon 

Yes, they can.

Nathalie Dajko 

There’s a lot of– there’s a lot of willingness to do it. Right. So- So…

Carrie Gillon 

That’s the most important thing.

Nathalie Dajko 

That’s true.

Carrie Gillon 

And then money.

Nathalie Dajko 

That too. Money also helps definitely.

Carrie Gillon 

Those are the two big things. Okay, well, thank you so much. This is great!

Nathalie Dajko 

Thank you for having me. This was fun.

Carrie Gillon 

So we always leave our listeners with our final word, don’t be an asshole.

Megan Figueroa 

Such great life advice.

Nathalie Dajko 

So, be a linguistic asshole, ok.

Carrie Gillon 

Exactly.

Megan Figueroa 

Exactly, exactly. All right, bye.

Nathalie Dajko 

Alright, thanks y’all.

Carrie Gillon 

The Vocal Fries Podcast is produced by Chris Ayers for Halftone Audio. Theme music by Nick Granum. You can find us on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @vocalfriespod. You can email us at vocalfriespod@gmail.com

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