Megan: Hi. Welcome to the Vocal Fries Podcast, a podcast about linguistic discrimination.
Carrie: I’m Carrie Gillon.
Megan: And I’m Megan Figueroa. We have such a good episode for you all today.
Carrie: It’s really good.
Megan: It is, right? Right? Yeah. But first, let’s talk about some words.
Carrie: Let’s talk about some words.
Megan: Because it’s the time of the year.
Carrie: It is the time of the year. Yeah. Maybe we’ll start with the first word of the year is already been announced by Collins, which is a dictionary out of Scotland.
Megan: Okay, tell me what it is. I have no idea what it is. I don’t even have a guess. Oh wait, let me guess. Is it about COVID? [laughs]
Carrie: I mean, it’s not not related to COVID but that’s probably not the most relevant part.
Megan: Okay. So is it about labor?
Carrie: Again, yes.
Megan: Okay. Okay. Just tell me. Tell me what it is. Tell me. [laughs]
Carrie: Permacrisis. Permacrisis, a term that describes an extended period of instability and insecurity. It’s one of several words Collins highlights that relate to the ongoing crises that UK in the world have faced and continue to face including political instability, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and the cost of living crisis. I would add COVID in there. I would add labor stuff in there, but, yes.
Megan: Yeah. No, I can see why you were like not quite but yes, because COVID is a permacrisis. And, yeah. So I was guessing labor because I think that antiwork and quiet quitting, I feel, like, are going to be the American Dialect Society at least contenders for one of the year.
Carrie: They’ll be nominated are sure.
Megan: Right. And dictionary.com just added antiwork to the dictionary.
Carrie: Before we get to that, do you want to hear the other words of the year or potential words of the year?
Megan: From Collins? Was it like the runners-up?
Megan: Yeah. Yeah.
Carrie: So there’s Kyiv, party gate. Do you know, about party gate?
Carrie: Basically, there was this party during one of the lockdowns in London at Downing Street, so, like, the prime minister’s residence and it eventually led to Boris Johnson having to step down really, so it was one of the things.
Megan: Oh, that? Okay. Okay. Wow.
Carrie: Splooting. Do you what splooting is?
Megan: No. [laughs] What?
Carrie: So there’s a whole subreddit about it, which I’m in and it describes animals when they’re, like, on their bellies and then they’re sort of, like, splooted out, their back legs are, you know, splooting [laughing].
Megan: Oh! Oh, my God. That’s what Nico does. My dog. All of the time.
Carrie: Yeah, my cats don’t seem to do it, but some cats do.
Warm bank is a heated building where people who can’t afford to heat their own homes go to because there’s an energy crisis right now in Europe. No one can afford to heat their homes, like, no one.
Megan: That is awful. That is horrifying.
Carrie: Yeah, so they still like libraries or whatever, like, public spaces that are always going to be warm.
Megan: Libraries do so much for everyone. Gosh.
Carrie: Yes. Oh, I love my local library and the main library too.
Megan: Yeah, ditto.
Carrie: Caroline which is relating to Charles III of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Megan: Oh, Charles? Is that the king?
Carrie: That’s the new king.
Megan: Okay. [laughs] I’m so American. Okay.
Carrie: I thought you would know that. I don’t know. [laughs]
Megan: No, no, no, it took me a second. It took me a second, because I was, like, okay, there’s Harry and the other one that’s married to Kate, and then Charles.
Carrie: [laugh] Charles.
Megan: That, okay. Got it. [laughs]
Carrie: Lawfare, the strategic use of legal proceedings to intimidate or hinder an opponent. I guess that’s the thing that’s happening in the UK right now. I don’t know, I think of that as, like, you know, a Trump strategy.
Megan: Yeah. Wait. Like a political opponent?
Carrie: No, it doesn’t have to be.
Megan: Okay. Interesting.
Carrie: Yeah, just whatever opponent that you have in a legal sense. Could be political, but it could be other things, too.
Megan: Oh, so you’re just like capitalizing on being litigious.
Carrie: And there is like a Lawfare podcast out of the US, so I think this concept is maybe less newly relevant in the states versus newly relevant in the UK. I don’t know. I just can’t say.
Carrie: Quiet quitting.
Megan: Right. Yeah?
Carrie: So the practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do.
Megan: And don’t get me started by the way.
Carrie: [laughs] Yeah, seriously.
Megan: [inaudible] that’s how should supposed to be.
Carrie: Yeah, you want more, you pay me more. Sportswashing, the promotion of sporting events to distract attention from a controversial activity. So for example, Qatar is hosting the World Cup right now, and we all know how deeply problematic that country is, so they’re sportswashing.
Vibe shift. A significant change in the prevailing cultural atmosphere or trend.
Megan: Vibeshift. Wow.
Megan: So I only knew, like, 2 of those.
Carrie: You only knew 2?
Megan: Well, no. Okay. So quiet quitting, vibeshift.
Carrie: Oh, yeah, I guess that’s true. I guess you wouldn’t have necessarily know the rest of them. Interesting. Okay.
Carrie: I didn’t know Caroline, I’ve never heard that one before, but I would say, and then Kyiv.
Megan: Yeah, okay, okay. I’ve never heard it used.
Carrie: What? You’ve never heard the capital of Ukraine being used?
Megan: Okay. So not the same that they’re not using in a special way, right? But it’s just the capital.
Carrie: It’s just because it’s, like, constantly in the news [laughs].
Megan: I know Kyiv then. Yes. Let me say why I was confused is because dictionary.com added Zelenskyy. And the reason why I found this interesting is because, and they even have an editor’s note, the ending of this transliterated spelling uses two Ys to represent a specific Y sound in Ukrainian, which has more than one, it’s also the spelling that Zelenskyy himself prefers. Still, you’re likely to see the name spelled with one y, and some news reports reflecting a different transliteration. So, that’s why I was just wondering if, like, Kyiv there was like more to it than just it being the capital.
Carrie: Well, it’s also the new spelling, right? The K-Y-I-V spelling pronounced Kyiv or something like that versus Kiev, K-I-E-V. Yeah.
Megan: Okay. So it’s closer to, like, an English F sound than a V sound, somewhere in between probably.
Carrie: The IPA that they give is the F.
Megan: Oh, they do? Just plain up F? Okay. Okay, Kyiv [kiv].
Carrie: Kyiv [kif].
Megan: Kyiv [kif]. Oh, dang it! I’ve been saying it right except I’ve been saying, I haven’t been saying it right, I’ve been saying Kyiv [kiv].
Carrie: Kyiv [kiv], yeah. Which is probably still better, they would still be, like, good enough, you know? Just don’t say it the Russian way, that’s all.
Megan: No, no. Yeah, absolutely not. And then, another one and we actually talked off-camera about this before but they added school resource officer and you made a good point [laughs] that not every school has one of these. I just grew up with school resource officers so I was surprised. It wasn’t in a dictionary.
Carrie: You know, it’s like, well, I don’t think other schools have them, I certainly didn’t have them. I don’t want to meant a different country so, you know?
Megan: Right. Do Canadian schools have them though, like, is it possible?
Carrie: Maybe. I certainly didn’t have them, like, cops came to our school, because I lived in small towns. RCMP did come to our schools to tell us, you know, watch out for bad men and, like, yeah.
Megan: DARE to keep your kids off drugs. That was only the US right? Or did you have DARE?
Carrie: I don’t think we had DARE but we definitely were told, you know, beware of drugs and whatever, like, so we had similar messaging. Yes, we had similar messaging. You know, I was in elementary school the 80s. So, the anti-drug stuff was pretty strong back then. Anyway, so, yes, they come to the schools but I never had one that was, like, in our school. Like, I just seems completely, like, what? No. Why are we doing that?
Megan: I know. No, I know. Crime prevention at school. Like, come on, come on. That’s like a whole other podcast. But, yeah, so I was surprised because I’ve always had them.
Carrie: But I bet you there’s lots of schools that don’t still to this day, depending on the school.
Megan: Yeah, if you live in a gated neighborhood, you might go to a school without a school resource officer.
Carrie: Almost certainly.
Megan: Yeah. If you go to a school like I did where it was 92% latinx, you probably had a school resource officer.
Megan: And this is why I’m shocked that it’s just being added to dictionary.com’s dictionary because they’ve been doing this for decades.
Carrie: Yes. But it is even though they have existed for a long, long time at least in some schools, it’s still really relevant because, you know, there have been so many school shootings that have involved them somehow.
Megan: That’s true. Yeah. There are a couple other ones I wanted to mention to you. Shadowban was added.
Carrie: Oh, okay, yeah. Uh-huh.
Megan: And then here’s an editor’s note for that, for sockpuppet which is a false name or identity assumed by an internet user often to deceive or to preserve the users anonymity. Editor’s note, this sense of sockpuppet emerged in the early 2000s and continues to have relevance. A recent prominent use relates to Russian online disinformation campaigns.
Carrie: What about the other one? The previous one?
Megan: Yeah, yeah.
Carrie: Not everyone will know.
Megan: Shadowban, the suppressing from public view of a social media post or post by platform moderators without notifying the user who publish the content usually in response to a violation of the platform’s terms of service. But there is a lot of misuse of this. So it’s not just like a harmful stuff that you would wish that would be moderated. [laughs] It gets sketchy, right?
Carrie: Well, also a lot of people who claim they’ve been shadowban haven’t been, so.
Megan: True. It’s like people claiming them and cancel, or claiming it’s a witch hunt.
Megan: t’s all related. And then here’s something I haven’t heard. Have you heard of this reviewbomb?
Carrie: Yup. Uh-hmm.
Megan: I know what it is. Never heard it called that, but to manipulate online rating system with the semi organized campaign of unfavorable user reviews, often as a general statement of disapproval for a creator, publisher, other business, rather than genuine opinion about a specific product or experience.
Carrie: Yeah. Like, I wish I could think of an example top of my head but it’s very common. I don’t know, it’s considered to be quote unquote, too woke by the online mob.
Megan: Ah, at as a verb.
Megan: Which is cool. To argue with someone or dispute someone’s state of view, especially on social media. And then here’s something that I have never heard, but I just wanted to share because I think it’s really cool because I’m really into, like, I’m really into reading, Carrie. I don’t know if you know this. No, but I’m really into, like, why add like speculative and dystopian stuff. So, here are two genres, subgenres, okay? Hope punk. A sub-genre of speculative fiction and art that shows optimism, gentleness, kindness, and collaboration to be effective weapons in the fights, create a better future which, and then Grim dark, dystopian fantasy fiction characterized by harsh settings, extreme violence, and oblique fatalistic perspective on the future of humanity. So, having these two kind of checks to the juxtaposition of the two is kind of like the world I’m living in right now.
Carrie: Well, yeah, I mean it’s kind of like the two responses, right? Like think about the two responses to the pandemic to, right? The people were like, oh, let’s care for each other by staying apart, but like, you know, taking these steps to protect each other and then there’s the people who are like, fuck you.
Megan: Yeah. Oh, so speaking of, here’s another one. Airhug was added. And that’s definitely pandemic related.
Carrie: I mean, it existed before but it certainly made it more relevant. Yeah.
Megan: Right, right, right. So, I mean, just the gesture of exciting ones arms as if to embrace another person used as a greeting of expression or expression of affection without physical contact. Another one, so antiwork was added as I said, related to the social and cultural movement that distinguishes between labor, which generates goods and work, which generates goods and work, which generates wealth and that rejects work as artificially incentivized while embracing or elevating labor as essential or intrinsically rewarding. Oh, so stemming, which I thought was cool that was added the repetition of physical movements or articulate noises exhibited by people especially young children and those with autism spectrum disorders and reaction to a mental or emotional state. I certainly stem. I need little things in my hands to fidget for certain things.
Carrie: Oh, it’s the first one I don’t know.
Megan: The abbreviation. You do, though.
Megan: Abbreviation out of office.
Carrie: Oh, yeah, I guess I do. Uh-hmm.
Megan: Used as a notification to colleagues or clients when an employee’s on vacation, and sick or away from the office for another reason and cannot be reached so an abbreviation added. Oh, and here’s one world that’s ridiculous. Pogonophile.
Megan: P-O-G-O-N-O, phile, person who likes beards.
Megan: Whether you’re a pogonophile yourself or just too lazy to shave, you’ll agree of lustrous covering a facial hair is pretty impressive. [laughing]
Carrie: Pogonophile. Ha!
Carrie: This is definitely totally new word for me so that’s nice.
Megan: Me too.
Carrie: So I kind of like it when I learn a new word from the dictionary because normally by the time they’re adding it it’s feels kind of old, you know, like shadowbanning or whatever. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, like, it’s not a process that I’m not opposed to but this is kind of cool. [laughs] Cool. Well, this has been exciting. Words!
Megan: Yes, I love words. I love words. Well, that was fun. Also, this episode is great.
Carrie: Yes. Oh, my goodness.
Carrie: Yeah, enjoy!
Carrie: Here’s another podcast we think you’ll love.
Megan: It’s called Subtitle and it tells stories about languages and the people who speak them.
Carrie: Which is kind of like us.
Carrie: If you’ve ever wondered about she, he, they, pronouns in Swedish or Japanese or why some people seem to be so good at picking up languages, then Subtitle is a podcast for you.
Megan: I’ve actually wondered about both of those things.
Carrie: Me too.
Megan: One recent episode profiles a woman who forgot her mother tongue and then set out to rediscover it. Another is about words that seem program to make us laugh. Another’s about our very first and very last words. What’s your first word, Carrie? What’d your mom or dad tell you?
Carrie: I don’t remember. I remember the first question I asked when we got to the cabin, which we had no electricity was like, where’s the TV? So, that clearly tells you something about me. But I don’t remember what my first words were, do you know yours?
Carrie: I don’t know why I find that so cute, but I really do.
Megan: Yeah, because I was very curious about buttons apparently.
Carrie: Anyway, Subtitle is produced in association with the Linguistic Society of America and is hosted by award-winning journalists Patrick Cox and Kavita Pillay. Listen at Apple podcasts or wherever you’re listening to this. They also have some episodes on why some people still speak Latin.
Megan: Communicating with extraterrestrial beings.
Carrie: Linguists who solved crime. Sign me up.
Megan: I know. is the polyglot brain different?
Carrie: And did hurricane Katrina killed a New Orleans accent? Which, you know, is related to the Millennials kill the Philly accent.
Carrie: So there we have.
Carrie: So if you like our podcast, you’re almost certain to like Subtitle. So go check it out.
Carrie: Okay. So today we have two guests, Jonathan J. Mayers, radbwa faroush, or feral opossum, who is a Louisiana Creole artist, and writer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He’s the third Baton Rouge Poet Laureate and writes Kouri-Vini, an endangered Creole language of Louisiana. His family that spoke it as their first language came from Pointe Coupee and other River Parishes along the Mississippi River. He’s the founder of Latannierizm, a type of colloquial visual art woven with language and physical place, and is represented by Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana. He’s currently co-editing a book of poetry in Kouri-Vini with Dr. Oliver Mayeux called Févi which will release soon. And our second guest is Adrien Guillory-Chatman, who is an educator and former Catholic School administrator who is born in Lafayette, Louisiana. Although she was raised in Chicago, Kouri-Vini and French were spoken in her home and by others in the community. In 2013, Adrien began her journey in reclaiming Kouri-Vini. Today, she has a passion to help others reclaim their Heritage language especially families who live in the Louisiana Creole diaspora. Adrien organized lessons for a Kouri-Vini on Memrise, coordinates Kouri-Vini practice tables in Chicago and contributed to the second edition of Ti Liv Kréyòl: A Learner’s Guide to Louisiana Creole and the book Ô Malheureuse : French Writings by Louisiana Women. In addition, she is created a set of Kouri-Vini family card games and she’s currently planning a website for kids and their families who want to learn Creole, so welcome.
Megan: Yes, thank you for being here.
Jonathan: Thanks so much, you all.
Adrien: Thank you for inviting us.
Carrie: So let’s begin at the very basics. What is a Creole language?
Megan: Can I add on this little tag question of and why do you think people misunderstand what it is? I encounter linguists who don’t quite understand what a Creole language is, why do you think it’s so misunderstood?
Jonathan: Okay. For us, it’s, and I mean, obviously it’s a language, it’s a form of communication between members of a community which have a range of heritage’s. When various folks from different cultures come together they have to form a common way of communicating, so it’s kind of how that comes about. And in the first generation of their children begin to normalize the language structure. What we call Creole languages today came about during European colonization of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Adrien: And I think that people misunderstand sometimes because they used to work Creole, and Creole could be used in different contexts, in different countries, in different ways. And so for people who don’t know or understand Creole culture’s our languages, they hear the word Creole and they think, oh, it’s all the same. When Creole is really different languages or it could refer to a culture, or people.
Jonathan: Or even produce with creole tomatoes down here. You know, they had creole horses at some point, and things like that.
Carrie: Is it just because, you know, Creole speakers were the ones developing them, or how did they get that name?
Jonathan: That was just a way of saying that it was grown here, or raised here, or born here, which is where do you get Creole people. The languages as well but maybe not every single Creole language can be about the same so, you know.
Megan: I’ve read in one of your bios that you were a Creole and I actually had not read as someone describing themselves as a Creole person before. I don’t know.
Megan: I know. I don’t know how that does not come, how it never came up. Look at Carrie’s face.
Megan: Everyone, you can see Carrie’s face.
Carrie: There’s a lot of authors, I’m, like, what are you talking about? Okay. Anyway.
Megan: Well, I guess I always thought it was referring to the language and this was the first time it connected for me that you were talking about yourself as a person.
Jonathan: There’s a lot of reasons for that. I would venture to say, I have some theories on that but it has a lot to do with Americanization and how it were divided, not necessarily as culture, because we’re supposed to be all one culture as Americans but that’s actually just patently falls that we’re all just Americans. We are US citizens. Perhaps there’s a lot of different cultures and subcultures on this continent.
Carrie: Yeah. And I would say that Louisiana is very different culturally from the rest of the United States in a way that some other states are less different from one another, at least from my perspective as an outsider.
So let’s dive a little bit into the actually Kouri-Vini. So can you tell us a little bit about the history of it and how it came to be?
Adrien: Kouri-Vini is a language that’s native to Louisiana and spoken most primarily in the state of Louisiana. But is also spoken in other areas and of the diaspora areas because Creoles move to various regions, to different parts of the country and other places, and the language sort of emerged in the early 18th century from the confluence of language arriving in the region from West Africa and by enslaved people brought to Louisiana by the French and the Spanish. And then, of course, you had Native Americans also, and all of this merge together into particularly linguistic landscape. So the language grew up alongside Louisiana French. So that’s its sister language. And, yeah, and it was sort of stigmatized because people would call it broken French or gumbo French, it wasn’t really recognized as a language, all to itself by many people. And also, it was stigmatized because the language began among on plantations among enslaved people even though that’s not the only people who spoke the language.
Megan: Right. And this is a really common thing that Creoles get called not a real language or just broken whatever.
Jonathan: Right. And also even when people type Creole languages, when they type it in , and this is, you know, going into like the still sort of an oppressive sort of thing is like having you type Creole or write Creole languages in English at least right when you write Creole and you always put it in lowercase. If you’re talking about people language and cultures they should be capitalized. Tomatoes and stuff, you know, you don’t need to do that. Because if we type like French languages, if we say French languages, right? The F is always capitalized. But that’s not always French languages that are necessarily coming from France or whatnot, could be coming from here or elsewhere around the world, but it’s always with a capital F, so we should use capital C for Creole languages. And treat him with the same respect.
Carrie: I agree. And when you call Louisiana French, like, it’s sister language were they once mutually intelligible? Can you understand someone speaking Louisiana French if you speak Kouri-Vini?
Adrien: I would say that most people, Jonathan could understand either or. One would be probably their primary language. As the fact that people live together in the same environment and depending on how much contact they have with someone who spoke Louisiana French or someone who spoke Louisiana French who was in contact with people who spoke Kouri-Vini or Louisiana Creole is, we use both terms, then they could understand each other.
Adrien: It’s a little bit different but newer learners.
Jonathan: Yeah, I agree with that.
Carrie: And I assume that you know someone who spoke European French would have an easier time with the Louisiana French than the Creole?
Jonathan: It depends on where the Region’s from, from where the French person came from and the Louisiana person came from. Because, you know, the different dialects of French that exist here, they came from somewhere, a lot of them exist still in France as well. It’s just not centered around Paris. Countryside and things like that.
Megan: So, what is the state of Kouri-Vini today?
Jonathan: Well, today, well today we have less than 10,000 speakers around the world. I think that’s a generous estimate perhaps. And it’s also considered a critically endangered language by UNESCO. And that’s been quite a few years that it was designated as such. And, you know, historically the Center for Development of French Louisiana or CODOFIL, they centered most of their work and their budget on the French language in Louisiana, so not necessarily on Kouri-Vini. Because at the time when it was started, you know, the [inaudible] really wanted to focus on French from France, rather than any of the languages spoken here. So, currently an in-store but we don’t have a state institution dedicated to Kouri-Vini. We do have Dr. Debbie Clifton who’s taught the language at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for quite a few decades, actually. I think she’s the only person who has taught it in that sense in a higher education institution. I mean, maybe someone else is taught in another University part of the language but I’m not sure if it was to the extent that she has. And so that would be in their Department of Modern Languages, I think. But even at that to get to the point where you get to take her class, you had to go take French before you could go and learn kouri-Vini with her. And so, you know, that setting up a barrier that really shouldn’t exist because then you’re, I don’t know. There’s something that’s called this, but maybe like a kind of academic gatekeeping.
Megan: Yeah. That is gatekeeping 100%.
Carrie: Yup, absolutely.
Jonathan: But the good thing though is that today Kouri-Vini has gotten, you know, most of its support through Grassroots initiatives by us, Louisiana Creoles. So and not necessarily from, you know, academics who would come in and, you know, granted they spent a lot of time and effort to create resources for people who are kind of more or less just academics and to boost, you know, I understand people need to make their careers and make their living and stuff like that, but when you don’t go back into those communities with whatever information you found to help them rebuild, or continue, or anything like that, you really just kind of says a lot about how it’s not really for the community that you’re extracting from. It’s only about your end goal of being the expert of someone else’s language and culture. But like I said with the Grassroots initiatives, the Louisiana Creoles that have been working on this, their descendants of its, you know, first native speakers. So such as Dr. Christophe Landry and Cliff St. Laurent, and Michael Siscolar [?], those three boogs [laughs] pod nas, they created the orthography that we use with help from another couple of Louisiana Creoles. It’s thanks to that orthography that they created a few years back. I think it was in 2015 that it officially came out. They made audio-visual and online learning resources for learners and re-learners, because there is also people who grew up hearing the language and maybe speaking a little bit and they’re kind of relearning it. But then, even so not just the folks that created orthography or the folks that work with them already, but folks in the community, they’ve begun forming their own small groups and they learn together, and they practice with their families, and, you know, do things like that too. It’s uplifting, and it’s encouraging, and it’s energizing to see the amount of traction that has been gained since Louisiana Creoles sort of like took back, you know, what was there’s anyway, instead of constantly having to struggle and fight with what’s their own language and how they should write it or what they should be doing in this and the other.
Carrie: Yeah, it’s an interesting part of the revitalization process, you know, just getting something that everyone can agree on so that you can actually build on it. It’s an important step.
Jonathan: I won’t say that everybody agrees on it.
Jonathan: And I’m talking more specifically about people who are not necessarily involved in.
Carrie: Mmm. Yeah.
Jonathan: We’re really working on a lot of these things. People have a lot of opinions about it. The people that had some skepticism that I’ve talked with when I sit down and explain, I’m only speaking from my own experience because I don’t know how everyone else has done this or what their experiences are, and maybe Adrien has something to add. But I’ve noticed that when I explained to them what it is and why it is, and why we do certain things, or have written certain things, or this and the other they kind of, oh, okay, now I understand. Or hey, that’s actually pretty innovative and they they appreciate certain things that they didn’t realize before because people make assumptions all the time about what something should be.
Adrien: Well, I would say that I agree with you.
Adrien: That, you know, a lot of times from my experience, people would say, oh, that doesn’t look right. Could it be me or Louisiana Creole has been written before in the 1800’s, they were writing or they were using the French orthography, and I would say that those who know French and speak French, and can read and write in French, they’re more comfortable with that. But then when you explain that our own orthography helps to distinguish the language and distinguish the language in its own right, then people begin to understand a little bit more.
Carrie: Yeah, I was looking at the French versus Louisiana Creole on the Wikipedia. And, yeah, like, I can see that if you were used to the French it would be maybe confusing at first, but it feels to me as an outsider that it represents the sounds better.
Jonathan: Yeah. Well, that’s one of the important things as well, is that whether it was in French orthography or a pan Creole that was more or less Haitian Creole orthography that had been used prior. What we have now is more versatile and can capture the sounds that actually come out of people’s mouths better [laughs].
Carrie: Right. Yes. [laughs]. I mean, it’s probably true of French French too, their orthography just like English’ orthography is not very good. It doesn’t represent French sounds very well.
Jonathan: I mean, I understand why English is so difficult for people because there’s no accents or any markers to tell you how to actually pronounce a word. Even though we do have rules but.
Megan: Yeah. No, I know, the stress.
Jonathan: For non-native anglophone, non-native English speakers, that’s why it’s so difficult. There’s no, like, hey this should go it work or something like that.
Carrie: Yes. Yes.
Megan: I know. And like, record and record, are they just the same? No accent mark to tell you which one’s record a record. Cool.
Carrie: You just have to know.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s true. Yeah.
Megan: Since the orthography says, 2015 is when it was kind of settled upon, does this mean that Kouri-Vini has not been used in schools?
Adrien: In 1921, it was mandated by law that schools and other government agency use English. But before that there were schools that used French and as far as Kouri-Vini we’re not, I don’t think there was any textbooks or anything that was standard in Kouri-Vini a used in schools. We do know, if at least one person who attested to the fact that he would speak Kouri-Vini to his students, because that’s the language that they spoke even though it was mandated to teach in English because that was their primary language.
Carrie: Yeah. I would have been shocked if Kouri-Vini had ever been taught in school.
Adrien: Well, today, there are some educators administrators were interested in having programs in Kouri-Vini not really a full-fledged language but, yeah.
Megan: Are you working with them? Or you’re making, like, these family card game, and these kind of things for families and your younger kids, do you work with these kind of programs or educators?
Adrien: I would say not yet but I hope to eventually work with developing programs for schools to use.
Jonathan: Kouri-Vini has been in the classroom only a little bit because it’s only ever like a smaller component. And what I mean by that is like say for instance you have people doing oral histories, right? So then some people will actually go record thinking that their family speaks French, but they speak Kouri-Vini instead. So, that way that happens, some people get invited to the classroom. This goes anywhere from sometimes the French immersion programs that exist here all the way to the university level. But it’s always under the context of French first not necessarily under the context of Kouri-Vini first. Or I shouldn’t say first, but it’s always under the umbrella of French rather than it being its own thing. Last summer, I did my best to incorporate Kouri-Vini into an art class that I taught. Now, it wasn’t immersion even though for the most part I would ask questions in Kouri-Vini and then also repeat them in English and stuff. But the students learned very, very, very basic things like how to say, “my name is,” and then whatever the name is mô nom çé … and then asking people Ki çé tô nom? what’s your name? You know, very basic things like that have been introduced in the past 5 years, but not to the extent of what Adrien is talking about, that would be for the future.
Carrie: Right. These things take time, you can’t just throw people into the water.
Jonathan: Right. You know, for the most part people are going to question it because they’re going to say well what use is it going to do? How’s it going to benefit the students? What are they going to do with it later on in life?
Carrie: How do you answer that question?
Jonathan: Well, the answer to that question by explaining to them about what it is to be part of a culture that you practice, but not really understand anything about it. But if you understood the language that helped form the culture that you still practice, and then you speak in that language and you gain those perspectives, and you connect with people who still speak it, you can then more easily connect to people around the world because you’re not someone who thinks that the one language is the only language. And that’s, you know, that’s across the board that there’s quite a few instances where people they refused to learn any other language. And that’s their own right, but I think that’s also a way of limiting oneself to understanding the world in a different lens. But also, like, for Louisiana Creoles, you know, a lot of folks come to learn because they want to reconnect to their Heritage, right? And they understand that they’ve missed out on something or they lost something because they remember it in their family, or they remember growing up hearing the language being spoken or they don’t know why they say certain things but then they find out it’s actually something in Kouri-Vini that they’ve said all their life and it’s not English or, you know, something like that to better understand.
Carrie: So to be better connected to oneself.
Jonathan: Yeah. I mean, it’s a facet of humanity that at least for Louisiana Creoles I would hope that they can reclaim.
Carrie: I definitely think it’s possible. It’s not going to be easy. It never is, but I do think it’s possible. Yeah.
Jonathan: Oh, for sure. I mean it’s happening.
Carrie: It’s happening.
Jonathan: It’s just happening slowly.
Carrie: Yeah. I mean, you know, I took however many hundreds of years to get to this point so, you know, to grow it back it’s going to take some time too.
Megan: And it’s such a frustrating question in the first place because in these peoples terms wealth isn’t always fiscal.
Jonathan: Well, you know, it still does open up other avenues.
Carrie: It does.
Jonathan: Other avenues of career choices too, you know. If that’s the one thing that somebody’s worried about, it does that too.
Carrie: It is a frustrating frame but it is the frame that most Americans live in, and so if you’re an educator, you kind of have to find ways to talk to parents. That’s why I asked that question.
Jonathan: Oh, right, right.
Megan: Well, what is your relationship with Kouri-Vini? Did you speak it as a child? Did you hear people speaking it around you?
Adrien: Well, for me growing up, we moved to Chicago when I was young and it was spoken in the home. My mother spoke both Kouri-Vini and French. My father can understand, but he didn’t speak the language. So obviously, you know, he grew up around the language, but not encouraged to speak it. And my grandparents, my uncle’s, they all spoke the language in the house. However, we weren’t encouraged to speak the language because there was this impression that we wouldn’t do as well in school. And growing up in Chicago I thought, “Oh, that’s because we’re in Chicago now and everyone speaks a little bit differently.” But as an adult I understood where as a young teenager and an adult, I understood that the same thing was happening in Louisiana where people were being told that the language is broken French. And in order to do well in school and or to have opportunities it’s just better to speak English. And as I mentioned before in 1921, it was mandated that English be spoken and taught, that the curriculum would be in English. And some people, not everyone but some people were punished if they spoke either Louisiana French or Louisiana Creole in school and so that generation of people when they had children, they didn’t want their children to be stigmatized in or to have problems in school. They encourage the children to speak English as opposed to Kouri-Vini or Louisiana French. That happened in my family also. Later on, I would always want to learn how to speak and I knew some things because, you know, it was spoken all around me. And so there were some phrases and words and things I was familiar with but I was told, well, when you get in high school you can learn French and then we’ll teach you the way we speak the language, you know? And that’s something that happens, a story that you hear not just with Kouri-Vini but for other endangered languages. When I went to high school, I wanted to learn French and my class would say, “No, no, no, take Latin, take Latin, that way you can learn all the languages.” You know, and so she wouldn’t put me in French so I learned Latin. So, every opportunity I had to get at least close to Louisiana Creole it seemed like it was something that just didn’t occur. But now because of technology, I’m able to speak with people from different parts of the country and the world, and Louisiana and I’m able to learn the language.
Megan: Thank you for sharing that with us. It’s a very common story, children not being own taught their language.
Carrie: The thing that’s slightly different is, “oh, no, you should learn French first,” that doesn’t happen with the Indigenous languages that I know. No one’s ever told, “Oh no, you should learn this one first.”
Adrien: And when they were saying French, they didn’t mean Louisiana French, they meant the French that you can learn in school.
Carrie: Parisian French, which almost no one speaks.
Jonathan: Right. Right.
Megan: How about you, Jonathan. What’s your story?
Jonathan: I’m in a, I guess a similar situation, but I’m here in Louisiana, you know, in Baton Rouge. So my great grandmother spoke the language, you know, she was born and raised in Lakeland in Pointe Coupee. And so she spoke it all throughout her life, you know, throughout all her days, with her family, her sisters, her cousins, and rest of her family. So, that was my great grandmother and I never met her, but my dad was really close to her. So she lived with my dad when he was growing up. And his mom, my dad’s mom, my grandmother, she spoke it until she was around about 7 or so which is the whole, you know, the thing about going to school, learn English and, you know, just you’re not going to get anywhere if you keep speaking, you know, that language. My grandmother understood it but didn’t really speak it, but my dad heard it all the time and he would say some phrases when I was growing up. He would say some words and a couple phrases or whatever, but nothing more than that. But the one thing that he did, he did recognize and he understood the nuance of the language and the rhythm, and the sound of the language. So he could distinguish when I would speak French, he wouldn’t say much about it, but when I spoke Kouri-Vini one day, he told me when we were gardening, he was like, “That sounds just like my family, like that’s my family speaking when I hear you speak in it.” And so you know, there’s still the understanding of like just the sound is even that much, it is really important too, right? But I did do the same sort of thing, I learned French first, I took some French classes growing up, but it didn’t really stick, because I then went into Spanish mainly because all my friends were taking Spanish and that didn’t stick [laughs]. So after college, I was like, “Okay, I need to start learning French.” So I started learning some Louisiana French things and didn’t do anything for me because I wasn’t around anybody speaking it, and I thought I could learn it all on my own. So when I got, I think it was in 2015 as well when I went to French immersion in Canada, where some of my lineage is from. And I have lineage straight from France, some Quebec, some Belgian, stuff like that. But anyway, I went there to start French immersion and I learned French at Université Sainte-Anne first, and then in 2018, is when I started really learning Kouri-Vini after working with Cliffs St. Laurent on a translation project and art exhibition where he put everything in Kouri-Vini and I started learning through the community that Adrien was involved in. [inaudible] includes Cliff and some people that I mentioned earlier. And I had known that we’d spoken Creole, but it took me a long time to really understand that it is not French because, you know, my parents they got me a book about Creole from Pointe Coupee, Kouri-Vini from Pointe Coupee. I went back and read all of that to better understand some of what was being spoken. And so now I do have some people around me that I can speak with, it’s not a whole lot of folks, but then like with Adrien, the online community, you know, thanks to technology. I mean, that’s really where I learned a lot is through Adrien, Dr. Landry, Michael [inaudible] and Cliff St. Laurent, and a few other folks online.
Megan: So through the diaspora?
Jonathan: Yeah, through the diaspora.
Megan: You all get together and like, Zoom?
Jonathan: Yeah. Zoom, Facebook, all these sorts of things. And you know, and those have evolved into different platforms. And even still there’s some folks who think that like everybody just exists online and no one knows anybody in person or no one speaks to anybody in person. But that’s also assumptions from people who have no idea, you know, and people who aren’t on the ground.
Megan: People are so good with that.
Jonathan: And they’re really great, you know?
Jonathan: But I’ll be the first to tell you when people talk, when I see and read and hear things like that I’m like, you know, I haven’t spoken to them in person, or they didn’t come to any Creole table that was in person, or they didn’t go to some sort of event or, oh, they don’t even live around where the people speak live.
Carrie: Are some of your ancestors part of the Acadian Expulsion from Nova Scotia?
Jonathan: Yeah, some of them are. One of them descend from also the Melanson who co-founded Grand-Pre in Nova Scotia which was like a large area of land in the bay that was reclaimed for farming purposes. But they came after my French and German ancestors who were already here in Louisiana who were already speaking Kouri-Vini and French. I would imagine, I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine because they were in the same places where the languages exist and existed and still exist.
Megan: I was looking at a map. Lakeland is not too far north from Baton Rouge, is that correct?
Jonathan: No, it’s not too far, no. It’s about 35 miles, 40 minutes or so.
Megan: So, you would say, like, mostly from your great-grandmother to you, your family has mostly been around this area?
Jonathan: The River Parishes, yeah. Well, my dad’s side.
Megan: Okay. Yeah.
Jonathan: My mom’s side is a different story.
Carrie: We all have complicated ancestries.
Jonathan: It’s just as interesting. It’s just a different part.
Adrien: The different types of people in Louisiana. I have Acadian ancestors.
Carrie: Oh, yeah.
Jonathan: That’s right.
Adrien: There’s one of the misconceptions that people have is that people of Acadian descent speak Louisiana French and people of Creole, Louisiana Creole or Kouri-Vini, but people of Acadian descent aren’t Creole people technically. And people may say my parents spoke French because they identify as French or they may say my parents spoke Creole because they identify as Creole. And their ancestors actually spoke French. People really need to understand that there’s such a mixture in Louisiana and my mother would tell me in Louisiana, you don’t know who’s who or what’s what.
Megan: Yeah. Oh, I love that.
Jonathan: Yeah. And so that is also why the use of the term Kouri-Vini is atleast important, you know, for us because it distinguishes that we’re talking about the language, not the people nor the culture. Because what Adrien was explaining with the French and creole and this that and the other, you know, there’s just constant confusion in intertwining the two all the time. We’re not exactly knowing how your language is described or named and whatnot.
Carrie: Right. And it also shows just how, like, complicated these divisions are, you know, like Scots and English are very closely related to but they are still separate but it’s really hard to really show that divide.
Megan: Really want to talk to you both about your art. Adrien, can we talk about your writing? Is this something that you have been doing to reconnect or to write in Kouri-Vini?
Adrien: When I started to actually reclaim the language, to practice, I would write. And so it was a disciplined. I had every morning, I would practice by writing and as a reward at the end of the day, I would practice also by reading and writing in Kouri-Vini. And I started writing poetry. Sometimes I would write stories and I would say, oh that story seems like it wants to be a poem. And so I would write poems and actually, there was a book that was being put together and Jonathan told me about it and he encouraged me to submit a poem. It’s called Ô Malheureuse: French Writings by Louisiana Women. And that was the first time that one of my poems was published. So, from there, I thought, “Oh, okay, I can do this.” It was exciting. Yes, it was excited because it was in Kouri-Vini. And there are some poems, and songs, and stories, especially Louisiana folktales that’s written in Kouri-Vini. And so, it felt really great to be a part of that tradition of writing in the language and the heritage language.
Megan: And I love that cover. I love that.
Megan: Honestly, very, very lovely cover of the volume.
Adrien: And since then I’ve written poems for Févi, and the book was actually published this year.
Jonathan: This is the one that this is the one that you all mentioned that Dr. Oliver Mayeux and I were working on, it was published this year.
Adrien: And it’s completely, I’ll let Jonathan talk about it because he and Oliver actually put the idea and put it all together. I’ve also worked on doing a course on Memrise and a lot of people that’s their initial way of reclaiming the language, they go on Memrise and they learn. Then they earn about the different communities that you can find in order to practice together. And then, we also have a book called Ti Liv Kréyòl. And I helped Dr. Nathan Wendte and Dr. Oliver Mayeux who were both linguists to look at Ti Liv Kréyòl because I’m an educator, to see how people would relate to it in terms of learning the language and especially with being a learner also. So, yeah, for a lot of things that has been happening in Kouri-Vini since I started to reclaim the language. Oh, and I also do this because I did look at your bios and Carrie, do you like to knit?
Carrie: I do. Yes.
Adrien: And Megan you like cross stitches.
Megan: Yes. You crochet!
Adrien: I crochet.
Megan: Look at that.
Adrien: And so I crochet blankets with graphic and words in Kouri-Vini.
Megan: Oh, wow. Oh, that’s amazing. I love that.
Carrie: I’m a very beginner learner of crochet, that’s really impressive.
Megan: Okay. Well, what about you, feral opossum?
Jonathan: [laughs] So as Adrien was saying, by the way, the crocheted stuff really is awesome. I mean, all the stuff that Adrien has done is awesome, but I saw those and they’re wonderful. But so Févi, the book of poetry that Adrien mentioned that she submitted work for just came out this year in May. So I worked with Dr. Oliver Mayeux, and we worked for over a year on editing the book, you know, trying to make sure that we have everything as much to a tee as possible. Our Publishers, actually, they [inaudible] so it’s at the Centenary College of Louisiana. So thanks to him for believing in us and giving us, you know, pretty much the go ahead and free rein on how we want to do our book. So, front to back cover, it’s all in Kouri-Vini. There’s a handful of different words in English or maybe some French, you know, in one poem or two. But for the most part it’s one of the first books that centers Kouri-Vini and uses it throughout the whole entirety of the book rather than having also all translations. So even the preface. So it’s essentially saying that the author’s retain the rights and stuff like that, so that’s all there.
Megan: What does Févi mean?
Jonathan: Févi means a few different things. Smothered okra. It can also just mean okra, you know, because Févi, okra or gumbo, those are all African terms for okra. One of the things that I really like Dr. Fei [?] said is like [foreign word] like instead of Févi, it’s like make live or give life, and things like that. So, you know, it’s it’s a book that, you know, the language is smothered. So smothered okra, right? So it’s smothered but really good to eat, you know, it’s nourishing so, like, it’s good to consume or at least what I mean by that is nourish yourself by reading it and understanding where a lot of these folks are coming from. So, you know, and it has folks in there that are from older speakers, native speakers, and a lot of learners. So it’s sort of a testament to the people that are learning as well, but yeah, I was so excited when Adrien submitted as well. But, I mean, everybody to, but the Ô Malheureuse when other hand applied, you know, Michael [inaudible] and I listened to Adrien, you know, she read her poem to us and we talked about it, and were so encouraging. I was so excited when she emailed us back. All right, I submitted. You know, it’s just very quietly. I’m just proud of my friend Adrien.
Adrien: I didn’t pay him but when I have a fan club, I’m going to make you the president.
Megan: President and treasurer.
Jonathan: But there’s a lot of really great stuff in in Févi. So Adrien’s work, I’ll say, Brian Anthony [inaudible] and his work in there. He’s someone who is also from Baton Rouge, but he’s out in Houston. I worked with [inaudible] musician. We wrote a poem that’s it’s got It’s a pretty funny poem. Again, Cliff is in there, but there’s a lot of folks in here who like I said are reclaiming the language and reconnecting to Heritage. So it’s been an important. I think piece of literature for the community. And we hope, we love to do a lot more.
Carrie: You use the orthography.
Jonathan: Right. We use the orthography. We do use the orthography that we
use for the majority of the book. There’s some folks who, you know, some of the folks who they don’t know the orthography yet because they’re, well, this is the older generations who they had their own orthography, or how they wrote themselves, you know, it wasn’t necessarily something that was easily picked up or that they studied yet. And I’m talking about people, like, in their 60s, 70s. But there, as we left pretty much alone because we didn’t want to change their particular writing style. But everybody’s bios and stuff were in the orthography. Because of the language loss that we experienced in my family, I felt as though, I kind of, like, missed out on certain stories handed down or any sort of things like that handed down. So I create a lot of my own tales, mythological tales, or fantastical tales and things. They’re usually in the form of micro stories, but I look to get into longer forms of writing.
Carrie: What’s a micro story?
Jonathan: A micro story is just sort of in a short story. So it’s, you know, maybe a page or less, a couple paragraphs maybe. I think it’s up to a thousand words or something like that. Yeah. I don’t usually get close to that because it’s, you know, just a snippet of, you know, I go visit different places, take some photos and experience the place and talk to the people that live there, or do some research on the history of the place and then write about, like, just some things that occur.
Carrie: Well I could talk about this forever but I think that’s a good place to start.
Megan: I mean, we’re going to talk to him later, we’re best friends now.
Jonathan: That’s right.
Megan: Best friends.
Jonathan: That’s right.
Megan: Well, we appreciate it so much you so.
Carrie: Yeah. Thank you so so much.
Jonathan: Thanks for having us. It’s been a pleasure.
Megan: Yes, it’s been a beautiful hour and thank you for sharing what you’ve shared with us.
Megan: And what we share with our listeners after every episode is, don’t be an asshole. How would you say it?
Carrie: Yeah, is there a way to say that in Kouri-Vini?
Adrien: Brasse pa lamèrd.
Megan: I like it!
Adrien: Don’t stir the mess, yeah.
Megan: Yeah, I love it.
Carrie: I love it. Yeah.
Megan: That’s awesome.
Megan: This month we would like to thank out three newest patrons. AP.
Megan: Marissa Moccia.
Megan: I hope I’m saying that right. And Alyson Smith.
Carrie: Yay! I love it. Thank you so much. We appreciate you.
Megan: Yes, we do.
Carrie: And if anyone else wants to become a patron, we have so many bonus episodes for you to listen to.
Megan: We do.
Carrie: When you sign up at this point, go to http://www.patron.com/vocalfriespod.
Megan: And our most recent episode is about talking to your cat. So if that’s something you’re interested in, go check it out.
Carrie: The Vocal Fries Podcast is produced by me, Carrie Gillon for Halftone Audio. Theme music by Nick Granum. You can find us on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at Vocal Fries Pod. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and our website is vocal friespod.com.