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Mith242

Cajun Culture in Louisiana

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I know I've asked some questions about this before, but I'm not sure what topic that was in. I thought the Cajun culture in Louisiana is very unique and thought it might be nice to hear more about it. Sorry to get away from the usual development topics but for those who haven't seen or are familiar with my posts and topics I'm also really big into the culture of areas. Hopefully some of the Louisiana will help me here because I don't know much about it myself. I was hoping to start off with some basic info, which parishes are considered cajun country. But I'd also like to hear about what makes the cajun culture unique and different from others. I'm also curious to hear if anyone thinks that the cajun culture is threatened by the general American culture. Southeast Arkansas had a French presence, Arkansas Post (Post D'Arkansea) was founded in 1686. Pine Bluff had a French community within the city for quite a while. There are still a number of French named streets. But eventually the people with French heritage either moved away or were assimilated into the rest of the general population. Although it's not the same as the cajun culture, southeast Arkansas lost it's 'French' culture ling ago and I was curious if this possibly happen down there too.

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Great question Mith!

I'll start it off with a map of the five regions of Louisiana, to give you a good general idea of where the "cajun country" area is in relation to other parts of the state.

lamapreg.gif

The twenty-two Acadiana Parishes, are the parishes that are considered to be in Cajun Country.

These parishes are Calcasieu Parish, Cameron Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Evangeline Parish, Acadia Parish, Vermilion Parish, Avoyelles Parish, St. Landry Parish, Lafayette Parish, Pointe Coup

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Thanks for the info NCB. I look forward to seeing what else you have to say soon.

I have some other questions but I'll wait till you're able to post some more info. I don't want to inundate you with lots of questions all at once. :D

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The Acadian Flags

This Acadian flag is flown mostly in the original Acadian area's of Nova Scotia and other French parts of Canada.

acadian-s.gif

This is the Louisiana Acadian Flag. It was designed to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Acadian exile into Louisiana. This flag is flown in the Cajun Country area of Louisiana.

TheLog1.gif

Mith, I'll try my best to answer your question on "what makes the Cajun culture unique and different from others" :)

Things that I think make the Cajun Culture Unique..

  • The Food- Everyone has heard of the Cajun Food. From meat and crawfish pies to Tabasco Sauce and Boudin Balls, Cajun Food is amazing. The food is generally very spicy. Cajuns love to use large amounts of spices and herbs in their food. One of the used spices seems to be Cayenne Pepper. Many people think that New Orleans style food and Cajun food are the same thing, while in fact they are quite different. Traditional and historic New Orleans dishes such as Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo, etouffe, and jambalaya were first brought to the area by Creoles.

    One of my favorite memories from when I was very young, was making the trip from New Orleans to Lafayette, for thanksgiving, and Cajun Frying turkeys, something that I still do today.

  • The People-Cajun people are just great people, IMO. I honestly have never met a Cajun that I didn't like. From what I have seen, Cajun people are very nice, happy, and outgoing people who appreciate all of the little things in life. I grew up around Cajuns as a young child, and the cajun people themselves were the main reason I enjoyed trips to Breaux Bride and Lafayette so much. They are just fun people.

  • The Cajun Dialect- This may not be on other people's lists, but the Cajun dialect is interesting to me. I'm sure that everyone has heard an impersination of a Cajun saying "I ga-run-tee" or "Ba-ton Roo-dge"(ESPN announcers seem to love saying this before LSU football games ;) ) The Cajun dialect has alot of history to it, and over the many years that the Cajuns have settled in Louisiana, the dialect has slowly intertwined with normal American english. As a result, many or most Cajuns speak completely normal American english, but that Cajun dialect comes out on certain words.

  • The History- This is my favorite aspect of the Cajun culture, there is just so much history to it.

    I'm sure that most people know the basics of Cajun history. About how the original Acadian's were forced to leave Novia Scotia starting in the 1750's. But here are some links to websites that go further into detail about Cajun History.

    Link

    Link

  • The Lifesyle The food, the music, the people, the history, the ethnic pride, and everything else that makes up the Cajun lifesyle is something that is truly fascinating. History is everywhere in Cajun country. It's just an amazing culture, IMO.

This is something that I must add.

The best way to experience the Cajun culture, is to see it first hand. Stopping in cities like Lafayette, Breaux Bridge, Morgan City, New Iberia, Houma, or any of the small towns in Cajun County is something that you won't regret. Stopping to get some real cajun food, talk to some real Cajuns, and listen to some real Cajun music, if your lucky enough to find a place with live music, is a great experience. :D

And I would also like to add that the few things listed above only partially make up the Cajun culture, and there are many, many other things that make the Cajun culture interesting.

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That's some great info NCB, thanks. I had almost asked why did they settle so far away from their homeland but the links you provided answered my question. I had also wondered why they didn't head over to Quebec but apparently some did. Some ended up elsewhere around present day US but I guess were assimilated into the general population. I am curious as to whether all the current day Cajuns are descendants of those Acadians or are some of them from some of the original French that still lived in the area. I guess I just find it interesting that this group of french descendants seemed to do a batter job holding onto their culture more than the other French in what became the current US. I am also curious if you have any opinions on particular traits of cajun food or the cajun dialect. Maybe this could be a seperate topic but I'd also like to hear more about the Creole culture and how it compares to the Cajun culture down there.

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No problem Mith.

I'll start a Creole culture thread for you as well.

I'll try my best to get to these soon, as currently I'm working on a Saint Tammany Parish master thread, that will contain all developments, news, happenings, etc.. in the parish. And will be used to give others a good idea of what life is currently like in the Parish.

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No problem Mith.

I'll start a Creole culture thread for you as well.

I'll try my best to get to these soon, as currently I'm working on a Saint Tammany Parish master thread, that will contain all developments, news, happenings, etc.. in the parish. And will be used to give others a good idea of what life is currently like in the Parish.

No rush, I know what you mean. I had taken some pics over the weekend and it took me forever to get them all posted because I kept getting caught up responding to topics over in the Arkansas forum. Just whenever you have time.

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Great Job NCB, I don't think I could have stated this better myself. Most of my family is from Avoyelles Parish. While Avoyelles is one of the "border" Cajun Parishes, the culture there is quite strong. My Mom and her siblings were taught the Cajun French Dialect as a first language growing up and I can remember listening to my Grandmother and Aunt Nan sit on the front porch and have long conversations in French. Other comments on your comments below.

The Food- Everyone has heard of the Cajun Food. From meat and crawfish pies to Tabasco Sauce and Boudin Balls, Cajun Food is amazing. The food is generally very spicy. Cajuns love to use large amounts of spices and herbs in their food. One of the used spices seems to be Cayenne Pepper. Many people think that New Orleans style food and Cajun food are the same thing, while in fact they are quite different. Traditional and historic New Orleans dishes such as Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo, etouffe, and jambalaya were first brought to the area by Creoles.

One of my favorite memories from when I was very young, was making the trip from New Orleans to Lafayette, for thanksgiving, and Cajun Frying turkeys, something that I still do today.

Cajun food is indeed spicy but most folks attempting to emulate the cajun style of cooking go for spicy just for the sake of having spicy food. Cajun food is spicy to the extent that the spices give it excellent flavor and not just to make it hot.

The People-Cajun people are just great people, IMO. I honestly have never met a Cajun that I didn't like. From what I have seen, Cajun people are very nice, happy, and outgoing people who appreciate all of the little things in life. I grew up around Cajuns as a young child, and the cajun people themselves were the main reason I enjoyed trips to Breaux Bride and Lafayette so much. They are just fun people.

The Cajun people are the absolute best. While many of them don't have a lot in terms of material posessions, most are willing to give you the shirt off their backs if they think you really need it.

The Cajun Dialect- This may not be on other people's lists, but the Cajun dialect is interesting to me. I'm sure that everyone has heard an impersination of a Cajun saying "I ga-run-tee" or "Ba-ton Roo-dge"(ESPN announcers seem to love saying this before LSU football games ) The Cajun dialect has alot of history to it, and over the many years that the Cajuns have settled in Louisiana, the dialect has slowly intertwined with normal American english. As a result, many or most Cajuns speak completely normal American english, but that Cajun dialect comes out on certain words.

I love the Cajun dialect and although I have spent most of my formative years as a Mississippi "Red Neck", I tend to slip back into a bit of the dialect if I am in Louisiana long enough, or if around my family for extended periods. I do hate it though when non-Cajuns attempt to imitate. When I was an active Rotarian we had a member who, every year at Christmas time would attempt to read the Cajun Night Before Christmas with a "fake" Cajun accent. It aggrivated and insulted me to the point that I would typically excuse myself during her reading.

This is something that I must add.

The best way to experience the Cajun culture, is to see it first hand. Stopping in cities like Lafayette, Breaux Bridge, Morgan City, New Iberia, Houma, or any of the small towns in Cajun County is something that you won't regret. Stopping to get some real cajun food, talk to some real Cajuns, and listen to some real Cajun music, if your lucky enough to find a place with live music, is a great experience.

Very True, you have to go there to fully appreciate it. Lafayette, Breaux Bridge, Simmesport, Opelousas, and Port Barre along with the others mentioned are great places to visit. Most, like other small towns have annual town festivals that are great opportunities to go and experience the culture first hand.

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Great Job NCB, I don't think I could have stated this better myself. Most of my family is from Avoyelles Parish. While Avoyelles is one of the "border" Cajun Parishes, the culture there is quite strong. My Mom and her siblings were taught the Cajun French Dialect as a first language growing up and I can remember listening to my Grandmother and Aunt Nan sit on the front porch and have long conversations in French. Other comments on your comments below.

Thanks, jcestes4! :)

Also thank you for adding your thoughts and perspectives into the mix, I'm sure Mith will enjoy more info.

I really don't have much of a Cajun dialect at all. I have more of that New Orleans style dialect. Many people dont know about the New Orleans dialect, but it sounds very similar to the New York-Booklyn dialect. More often than not, I'll say "New Awlins" instead of "New Orleans" or "Ha-vey" rather than "Harvey." But it's normally only when talking about things related to New Orleans. I honestly don't know why, but I guess it just works this way. As a result, I frequently get asked if I'm from New York when I'm in other cities. :lol:

But I'm proud of having an occasional New Orleans dialect, as I am sure you are with having an occasional Cajun dialect.

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Yes I find all of it interesting. Every little insight helps. :D I know what you mean about the spiciness of the food issue. I am very familiar with Southwestern and Mexican cuisine and a lot of people think you have to make it real spicy. But different chile peppers not only have different heat levels but different flacors as well. But anyway that's another topic. I've had a friend who's been down to New Orleans before and I guess he was there long enough to pick up the "New Awlins". But I don't rcall hearing him say anything else in the New Orleans accent. While I have heard some of the Cajun accent, I don't know if I've heard hardly any of the New Orleans accent. Guess I didn't realized it was somewhat similar to some of the New York accents. Weird how it works out that way. But yes hearing fake accents can be annoying at times. Just like the way Hollywood seems to know one southern accent and put it in every single movie that takes place in the south no matter where in the south it is. I do find accents interesting. Hopefully I haven't bothered anyone by try to imitate any of them. :D

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Hopefully I haven't bothered anyone by try to imitate any of them. :D

Nah! :D

I don't know if I've heard hardly any of the New Orleans accent. Guess I didn't realized it was somewhat similar to some of the New York accents.

I dont know if you've ever heard anything like "he said it only like New Orleanians can" or anything else like that, but statements like this pertain to the New Orleans sccent.

Its quite an interesting accent IMO. Alot of people dont even know it exists.

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Nah! :D

I dont know if you've ever heard anything like "he said it only like New Orleanians can" or anything else like that, but statements like this pertain to the New Orleans sccent.

Its quite an interesting accent IMO. Alot of people dont even know it exists.

I admit to hearing the Cajun accent a bit but not really the New Orleans. I hadn't really thought of it but it makes sense, it does already have a unique culture. It's own accent would fit the bill too. So it's somewhat like some of the New York accents eh? I wonder how they ended up rather similar being so far apart. Are there any southern traits to it at all?

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I think Wikipedia.org has a great article on the New Orleans accent. This should answer most of your questions, Mith. :D

From Wikipedia..

New Orleans is usually pronounced by locals as "Noo Or-lins," or "Noo Aw-lins." The pronunciation "N'Awlins" is not generally used by locals but has been popularized by the tourist trade. The distinctive local accent, sometimes identified as Yat, is unlike either Cajun or the stereotypical Southern accent so often misportrayed by film and television actors. It does, like earlier Southern Englishes, feature frequent deletion of post-vocalic "r". It is similar to a New York "Brooklynese" accent to people unfamiliar with it. There are many theories to how the accent came to be, but it likely results from New Orleans' geographic isolation by water, and the fact that New Orleans was a major port of entry into the United States throughout the 19th century. Many of the immigrant groups who reside in Brooklyn also reside in New Orleans, with Irish, Italians, and Germans being among the largest groups. The prestige associated with being from New Orleans by many residents is likely a factor in the linguistic assimilation of the ethnically divergent population. This distinctive accent is dying out generation by generation in the city (but remains very strong in the surrounding Parishes). As with many sociolinguistic artifacts, it is usually attested much more strongly by older members of the population. Also notable are lexical items specific to the city, such as "lagniappe" (pronounced LAN-yap) meaning "a little something extra," "makin' groceries" for grocery shopping, or "neutral ground" for a street median.

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I think Wikipedia.org has a great article on the New Orleans accent. This should answer most of your questions, Mith. :D

From Wikipedia..

New Orleans is usually pronounced by locals as "Noo Or-lins," or "Noo Aw-lins." The pronunciation "N'Awlins" is not generally used by locals but has been popularized by the tourist trade. The distinctive local accent, sometimes identified as Yat, is unlike either Cajun or the stereotypical Southern accent so often misportrayed by film and television actors. It does, like earlier Southern Englishes, feature frequent deletion of post-vocalic "r". It is similar to a New York "Brooklynese" accent to people unfamiliar with it. There are many theories to how the accent came to be, but it likely results from New Orleans' geographic isolation by water, and the fact that New Orleans was a major port of entry into the United States throughout the 19th century. Many of the immigrant groups who reside in Brooklyn also reside in New Orleans, with Irish, Italians, and Germans being among the largest groups. The prestige associated with being from New Orleans by many residents is likely a factor in the linguistic assimilation of the ethnically divergent population. This distinctive accent is dying out generation by generation in the city (but remains very strong in the surrounding Parishes). As with many sociolinguistic artifacts, it is usually attested much more strongly by older members of the population. Also notable are lexical items specific to the city, such as "lagniappe" (pronounced LAN-yap) meaning "a little something extra," "makin' groceries" for grocery shopping, or "neutral ground" for a street median.

Thanks for posting that info NCB, very interesting. Hopefully this accent will be able to survive along with the Cajun accent as well. I don't know if there are too many cities in the US that have their own accents. I know there are some northern cities outside of NYC that have some slight differences but I don't know if they are referred to as a seperate accent. While I have heard a little bit about Creole food and culture, I haven't heard of a Creole accent, does this exist?

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Would you consider the culture of New Orleans a part of the cajun culture, something just slightly influenced by it or totally different?

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Would you consider the culture of New Orleans a part of the cajun culture, something just slightly influenced by it or totally different?

I would say the culture of New Orleans is slightly influenced by the Cajun culture.

When the French owned New Orleans, they were not Cajun French, they were just French. They brought standard French food, language, architecture, etc. to the city.

The Spanish helped bring the Creole culture to the city. Most of the famous food that New Orleans is known for is Creole in nature. The French Quarter that we see today is mostly Spanish. The original "French Quarter" burned down under Spanish rule, and the Spaniards rebuilt it with Spanish architecture. Though much of it is still French.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's the very large influx of Italian, Irish, and German immigrants brought all kinds of food and culture to the city. The reason why the New Orleans dialect is so simliar to the New York dialect is because New Orleans saw such a large number of the same immigrants that New York saw, Irish, Italian, and German.

Though when the Acadians migrated down to Louisiana, many stopped and lived in New Orleans. The cajuns certainly influenced parts of New Orleans' culture but it was just a piece of the puzzle.

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I would say the culture of New Orleans slightly influenced by the Cajun culture.

When the French owned New Orleans, they were not Cajun French, they were just French. They brought standard French food, language, architecture, etc. to the city.

The Spanish helped bring the Creole culture to the city. Most of the famous food that New Orleans is known for is Creole in nature. The French Quarter that we see today is mostly Spanish. The original "French Quarter" burned down under Spanish rule, and the Spaniards rebuilt it with Spanish. Though much of it is still French.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's the very large influx of Italian, Irish, and German immigrants brought all kinds of food and culture to the city. The reason why the New Orleans dialect is so simliar to the New York dialect is because New Orleans saw such a large number of the same immigrants that New York saw, Irish, Italian, and German.

I can see that, not everyone of French heritage was the same. There were people in southeast Arkansas of French heritage but I don't think anyone would think of them as cajun. And I do think I have heard that about the French Quarter too. That it is also Spanish influenced and that not many people know that. I also have some questions about the creole culture. It seems a lot more confusing. The word creole apparently has meant a number of different things over the years. The impression I get is today it is mainly used for people of mixed African and European heritage. Is this true?

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The impression I get is today it is mainly used for people of mixed African and European heritage. Is this true?

In Louisiana, the term "Creole" means something different.

When the French and Spanish ruled New Orleans, the term Creole started to come about. If you were of complete French or Spanish heritage, but you were born in Louisiana, you were considered a creole. I.e if two

French or Spanish settlers came to Louisiana and had a son, the son would be considered a creole. He is of comlpete French or Spanish decent, but he was born in Louisiana.

The term creole was also used often when New Orleans was seeing a large influx of German, Italian, and Irish immigrants. The people who were completely German, Italian, or Irish but were born in New Orleans were creole's.

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In Louisiana, the term "Creole" means something different.

When the French and Spanish ruled New Orleans, the term Creole started to come about. If you were of complete French or Spanish heritage, but you were born in Louisiana, you were considered a creole. I.e if two

French or Spanish settlers came to Louisiana and had a son, the son would be considered a creole. He is of comlpete French or Spanish decent, but he was born in Louisiana.

The term creole was also used often when New Orleans was seeing a large influx of German, Italian, and Irish immigrants. The people who were completely German, Italian, or Irish but were born in New Orleans were creole's.

Well I've seen this definition of the word before, but I read something that made me think that the term isn't used this way anymore. So basically anyone who is born in New Orleans or Louisiana is considered a creole?

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Well I've seen this definition of the word before, but I read something that made me think that the term isn't used this way anymore. So basically anyone who is born in New Orleans or Louisiana is considered a creole?

The term is generally applied in a more historical sense.

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The term is generally applied in a more historical sense.

Ah, so the term creole really isn't used anymore?

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In describing people in an historic sense, yes, the term is used. I suppose it might be applied to members of old planting families and the like. While members of these familes might think of themselves as being Creoles, I doubt very much that they would use the term today. The term as used today may apply to cooking , cottages or to culture in a general sense. The subtle elitist implications of the term are in marked contrast to the more democratic Cajun culture. Unfortunately, people unfamiliar with Louisiana tend to confuse the two. The cultures are quite different.

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Ah, so the term creole really isn't used anymore?

Well it just isn't used as frequently.

If you were born in New Orleans or Louisiana, and you can trace your family back to one single country(Ireland,France,Italy,Spain, or Germany) than you would still be considered a creole.

When the term started to arise, it was much more common to be Creole. Almost everyone in Louisiana at that time were immigrants. So it was very common that your parents were born in Spain or Italy, immigrated to Louisiana, and you were born in Louisiana. Nowadays, as the population is much larger, it is much less common to be able to trace you heritage back to only one country.

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In describing people in an historic sense, yes, the term is used. I suppose it might be applied to members of old planting families and the like. While members of these familes might think of themselves as being Creoles, I doubt very much that they would use the term today. The term as used today may apply to cooking , cottages or to culture in a general sense. The subtle elitist implications of the term are in marked contrast to the more democratic Cajun culture. Unfortunately, people unfamiliar with Louisiana tend to confuse the two. The cultures are quite different.

Ah, thanks for the info Tom. I didn't confue the two but apparently I thought the wrong thing about the term creole as well.

Well it just isn't used as frequently.

If you were born in New Orleans or Louisiana, and you can trace your family back to one single country(Ireland,France,Italy,Spain, or Germany) than you would still be considered a creole.

When the term started to arise, it was much more common to be Creole. Almost everyone in Louisiana at that time were immigrants. So it was very common that your parents were born in Spain or Italy, immigrated to Louisiana, and you were born in Louisiana. Nowadays, as the population is much larger, it is much less common to be able to trace you heritage back to only one country.

Okay, it's beginning to become clearer to me, thanks. Any other terms I should know about when dealing with Louisiana? :D

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^Tom explained it very well.

The term "Creole" is used very sparingly today to describe people. It is used more often to describe the things in the culture.

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