Talkin’ Funny: Louisiana Style

"My mama, she went to the store, her, and just left me out here."

“Mais, yall come see my new tricycle, cher!”

I must have been 17 years old before I ever uttered the phrase “come here.” And I did so only to make myself understood to what I thought was a somewhat dense Northerner, a Long Islander who couldn’t understand basic English.

In my part of the world, in South Louisiana, for some reason or other, we never said, “come here.” Instead, we said, “come see.” Always and forever, with no confusions or misunderstanding.

Yet the very first time I said “come see” in Southampton, New York, in the fall of 1991, the response was — well, I don’t have to tell anyone who wasn’t raised in Louisiana what the response was.

Me: “Come see.”
Friend: “See what?”
Me: “What?”
Friend: “Come see what?”
Me: Pause. Thinking. “Uh. Come here?”

And thus I switched from “come see” to “come here.”

When it comes to Cajuns, everyone outside the state seems to focus on the accent.And that’s what I did before moving away to college. I focused on the accent, stomped it mostly into the ground. I tried not to flatten my a’s. I tried to actually pronounce the “th” sound rather than turning it into a “t” or a “d” depending on the situation — as in “Set and dem went to da store and bought some tick-sliced bacon. Tick, tick.” (Translation: Seth and them went to the store and bought some thick-sliced bacon. Thick, thick.)

But it never really occurred to me that when it comes to talking funny, people don’t just sound different, they speak differently, using different words to say the same things.

So, a list, of things people say in Cajun Louisiana. (Note: New Orleans is NOT Cajun Louisiana, but I don’t have time to get into that at the moment.)

Come see: Come here. Easy enough, I think. Whether or not something is going to be shown is irrelevant. So don’t be surprised if, after you cross a room or a street after hearing this from a Cajun, that he doesn’t actually show you anything. He might just have something to say that he didn’t want to shout across the way.

Mais! If yall wanna buy my book, yall could do that, yeah. Just click.

Mais! If yall wanna buy my book, yall could do that, yeah. Just click.

Get down: Exit a vehicle. If you’ve given me a ride after school to my mama’s house, I may ask you, “You gonna get down?” I’m not asking if the FM stereo is moving you in such a manner that you’d like to dance in a vigorous 1970s style. No, I’m asking if you’re going to get out and come in to the house.

Put up: To put away. If I were to say to you, “Put that book up,” I don’t mean to hold it in the air above your head. Rather, I mean you should put it where it belongs. Another example: “Help me put up them groceries.”

Make groceries: To go grocery shopping. “I’m gone to the Winn Dixie to make groceries.” To be honest, we did NOT say this growing up. The first instances I ever heard of this were from folks who came from the Mandeville area just north of New Orleans, so I hesitate to even include it in this list. But I’ve since heard some Cajuns saying it. I don’t know if they taught it to the YATs or caught it from them — or just found the phrase so damn excellent they decided to put it in the rotation.

Mais: Well then! Technically, this is a French word meaning but. BUT! In South Louisiana, especially among those who don’t speak Cajun French anymore, it’s basically become an interjection that more or less means “Well then” and is used to delight, shock, exasperation — any number of things. It’s almost like “dude” or “fuck” in its ability to morph into anything depending on situation, tone, delivery and other factors.
“Mais, I gotta go to the store, I guess.”
“I got us some Popeyes!” “Mais!”
“You stupid, yeah.” “Mais!”
“I broke my leg.” “Mais!”
When it comes to pronunciation, the word falls somewhere between may and meh.

Sha: The most common misspelling of the French word “cher.” It’s spelled this way because that’s the way it’s pronounced in Cajun country. The pronunciation of this word in no way resembles any pronunciation of it you’ve heard on TV or in the movies — or the pronunciation of the name of Sonny’s wife. Freeing it from the original pronunciation has also freed it from the confines of its original meaning, which was “dear” or “precious.” It can still mean that, but it also can mean something along the lines of “babe” or “hon” (but not in a skeevy pick-up way).
“Hey, cher, you wanna go to the drive-through daiquiri stand and get some Funky Monkeys?”
“Cher, you know I do.”
But one of it’s most common uses these days is as a substitute for “cute” or “awwww.”
Upon seeing a cute kitten video on YouTube: “Cher!”
And this is where the misspelling becomes better.
Upon seeing a really cute kitten video on YouTube: “Shaaaaaaaaaaa.”
In fact, the word is often coupled with “Aw.”
Upon seeing a ridiculously cute kitten video on YouTube: “Aw, shaaaaaaaaaa.”
Also useful for responding to babies.
Look, here’s my new baby. “Aw. Sha, tee baby.” (Translation: “Aw. Cher petite baby.”)

T (or tee): Little. Tiny. Short for petite, the French word meaning little. In fact, it’s usually redundantly packed with words that mean the same thing for effect. “Aw, t lil baby.” Or: “Look at that t tiny kitten.” Can also be used as a nickname, usually for boys, sometimes because they’re small, sometimes to distinguish them from a father with the same name. Hence, I’m T-Ken.

Tres (Tray): A common boy’s name in South Louisiana which has nothing in common with the actual legal name of the child.  If Ken Junior would be T-Ken, then Ken the Third would be … Tres. Because tres means three. Obviously. UPDATE: This is obviously from Spanish, not French. Because three in French is trois. Don’t ask me how people in Louisiana decide these things.

Yall: A group of people. Yes, Cajuns use this word as well. I have strong feelings about it, some having to do with punctuation — I think it has become its own word and doesn’t need to signify a contraction. It’s such a useful, great word that it never occurred to me that the rest of the world didn’t use it. So even before I had the “come see” incident, there was the yall incident.
Me, standing on beach in Southampton: “Hey, yall wanna…”
Everyone else:  “Pahahahahahahaha.”
Me: “What?”
Everyone else: “Yall!?! That’s so cute.”
Me: “Man. Fuck all of yall.”
Everyone else: “PAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”
I also can’t stand the shoddy Northern writer’s insistence that we commonly use “yall” when speaking to a single person directly in front of us. Doesn’t happen. If I’m asking the person in front of me a question having to do with himself, I use the word “you.”
“Hey, you want to go fishing?”
If I’m asking the person in front of me a question about his family, then maybe I’ll use yall. “How yall doing?”
But instead of using “yall” in that case, I’m more likely to use a more apt phrase.

Ya mama and dem: Your mother and them. Your family. “How’s ya mama and dem doing?”

My mama, she … her: This isn’t a phrase or word with a definition as much as it is a confounding sentence structure that my fourth grade teacher all but had to beat out of us. (In truth, she resorted to the power of shame, encouraging the rest of the class to mock anyone using the phrasing. So if someone started a sentence, “My mama, she,” the rest of the class jumped in with, “Ooohhh, ‘my mama, she'” before the offender could even complete the sentence. Very effective!)
I’m assuming it’s some sort of hangover from French–a weird abuse of reflexive pronouns or something. It almost seems like whoever dreamed up this construction wanted the listener to be very clear who was doing what in these sentences.
“My mama, she went to the store, her.”
“Brian, he joined the Navy, him.”

That’s all I have at the moment. I’m sure my list is incomplete. If you’re from Louisiana and want to add your own in comments, go for it. If you’re from another part of the country and you have your own weird phrases, add those too.

UPDATE: Even More Talkin’ Funny: Louisiana Style.

Oh, yeah. I have a new novel out. Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears is set in Brooklyn and Louisiana and has plenty of funny talking going on. You can buy it online or, especially in the South, at an independent book store near you! In fact, the book is part of a #coderead promotion conducted by the Southern Independent Booksellers Association.

Oh, and while I have you. I’m running with Team in Training again this year to raise money to fight leukemia and lymphoma. Donate if you can!

Advertisements

288 responses to “Talkin’ Funny: Louisiana Style

  1. Foo-Foo is my favorite. Meaning something overly fancy.
    Also Coo-yon. Meaning a clown or foolish person.
    One more. IF. A strong affirmative. “You like crawfish?”
    ” Mais, If.”

  2. Reblogged this on Blathering 504 and commented:
    Awesome explanation of some Cajun idioms…not so much what I grew up with in suburban/semi-rural New Orleans but definitely what I heard (and hear) the Lafayette area family say.

  3. Robbie Sebastien

    “Put up” for me works in the manner of “save that”. Not that you’re gonna save the book from the fire, you’re just gonna put it back on the shelf where it belongs! This works especially when the clothes are folded…….now go save them! lol!

  4. Robbie, that’s how I first tried to explain “put up” — using “save that” — and that’s exactly how someone took it. “Save it up from what?”

  5. I love this. I was born in North Carolina and still have lots of extended family there. The ones that seem to overlap between the two regions are:

    Get down–but my family drove a lot of trucks. This came naturally to me when we were in a truck or van or something high, but not for getting out of a car.

    Put up–still use.

    Your mama and them–still use when I’m actually in Carolina. My family still uses it.

    Y’all. Still use it, although these days I say it consciously rather than habitually. Plenty of my cousins still use it as naturally as breathing. I read the first part of your book and giggled. I understand–completely–feeling strongly about language and how it should be, but I disagree with you on this one. What are the oldest contractions in the language? Don’t? Can’t? I’ll? I’m? And we haven’t taken the apostrophe out of them yet. I don’t see why y’all should be different. It started out meaning “you all,” it still does mean “you all,” as you say yourself above, since it’s not (and shouldn’t be, I think) used to refer to one single person, so why shouldn’t it indicate its origin and meaning with the apostrophe?

  6. PS, I don’t think “across the way” is in use everywhere generally, either. I like it and use it; I don’t know how regional it is. Maybe it’s that it’s not in use generally but is so obvious in its meaning that it retains no regional distinction? Or maybe I’m just wrong.

  7. Niki Walker

    Best post ever! I still “get down,” from my car. What about “honte?” as in “Mais, I’m so honte, me!” Embarrassed, shamed, mortified.

  8. Stephanie Greenwood

    I got in trouble years ago saying “fixin’ to”. I was a junior in high school on exchange in Princeton, New Jersey, when I said something along the lines of ,”I’m fixin’ to go start my homework.” The questions came a-flying…… what are you fixing? What’s wrong with your homework? You know – “fixin’ to” means “about to” or “getting ready to” do something…. one of my favorites!

  9. One phrase left over from my Grand Prairie days I often find myself saying (and flinch as I hear the words coming out of my mouth) is “down the road”. “She lives just down the road”…as if that is really a specific measurement or direction!

  10. Here’s a few more:
    The rest of world calls the “green” between lanes a median, we call it the neutral ground!
    We measure distance by how long it takes to travel someplace – everyone else in country uses actual distance in miles! (ie “How far to New Orleans? About two hours!”)

  11. Maurice Miller

    Awww cher t-bebe, mais I’ll bet you mom-n-em are proud of you, yeah. I enjoyed reading dis article me. It almost made me pee my pants. When you come back down to Louisiana, you gonna have t’stay a plus longtemps so we can pass a good time listening to stories about dem sneaux birds. You know they funny like dat yeah. Plus you can regenerate your cajun roots so you can continue to do us proud.

  12. Jennifer Reed

    “I’m shame fuh you” “A while back…” “Pass by the store” (not to wave at it, to go INTO), “Fuh true?”

  13. Lessley Fontenot

    “Here you go.” It’s the opposite of what it means. If someone has something that you want you reach out to them and say, “here you go.” It means give it to me. Weird.

  14. Chu-Chut. What you say when you are trying to describe something that you don’t what the name of it is or don’t know how to describe it. “Bring me
    dat chu-chut over dere” while pointing to the object.

  15. Marie-Dianne Reed (D'Avy)

    Ken: I am Evette D’Avy’s Mom. I am so glad you have another book out. I just finished “Bacon & Egg Man”….awesome & creative book! When you are next in Lafayette, I would like you to sign all of your books that I have…and I think I have all of them!
    Cajun Phrasing: “pick up the table” = remove used dinner dishes from the dinner table. Used that all of the time!

  16. You forgot “Keyaw”

  17. isn’t “come see” short for the french ‘ici’?

  18. Julaine Schexnayder

    This article is perfect…As writer myself, I applaud your “study” of a particular, unique form of our language. May I add my hypothesis that “Come see” is left over from the French “ici” meaning “here”? Ya tink, chere?

  19. I think my favorite Cajun word that isn’t on here is “conson,” simply because it is a good substitute in public!
    Conson – underwear
    Ex: “Mama, I don’t have no consons in my drawers!”
    Or “drawers”.
    Drawers – bureau, dresser
    See above example.
    I grew up in Texas with the majority of my family in Louisiana, so we went for visits every week. The differences are astounding!

  20. Ken, I loved this article. You explained our dialect perfectly. I wanted to add that in Ville Platte, we don’t put our groceries up, we save our groceries.

  21. I’m from southern Louisiana and although I’ve never said this, myself, I have hear it used: “Dis here dere” and “Dat dere dere” (“This here there” and “that there there”). I assume it means “this here there” and “that there there”. I bought dis here dere (shirt) to go with dat dere dere (pants). It’s very redundant in that “this” and “that” accomplish the meaning quite well on their own with out the added “here” and “there”. The additional trailing “there” is a complete mystery to me.

  22. I’m from southern Louisiana and although I’ve never said this, myself, I have heard it used: “Dis here dere” and “Dat dere dere” (“This here there” and “that there there”). I assume it means “this thing here” and “that thing there”. I bought dis here dere (shirt) to go with dat dere dere (pants). It’s very redundant in that “this” and “that” accomplish the meaning quite well on their own with out the added “here” and “there”. The additional trailing “there” is a complete mystery to me.

  23. This is spot on! My mom and them are from down the by-yuh, and they all make groceries. They also make the ro-day. Sometimes, my grandmother even “makes shit”

  24. this is awesome who did this article its great sha and I hate when people spell out yall its yall not y’all lol

  25. Annette Kinchen

    Someone sent me this article. I can’t imagine why since I live in the big city of Baton Rouge, not down the bayou. But I thought your book looked intriguing, especially since I have a nephew living in New York City and family who live below Lafayette. It is waiting for me now on my Kindle! While writing this I realized that I wouldn’t have said, “who live”, I would have said, “who stay”. Maybe the Cajun shows up more when I speak than when I write.

  26. One phrase I use every day is “make the bed”. As in I’m goin make the beds. Also I’m about to go to town. Everyone I know from my home town of Port Barre to where my dad is from in Ville Platte know what this means. It means I’m going to Opelousas. Oh my mother in law told me many yrs ago the “get down” thing started with horse and buggy days as in “get down” from the buggy or wagon. Also get down and come in. Come in the house to visit.

  27. I grew up in Lafayette, and my Mon-Mon and Pa-Pa lived in Washington. We’d visit every Sunday. I live up north now, but whenever I visit, I’m still called “neg” by my uncle, which is music to my ears. “How you doin’, neg?” That’s probably one of the hardest to explain to outsiders, but it’s so uniquely Cajun.

  28. Leah Zaunbrecher West

    I grew up in Lafayette and have recently moved to New Orleans with my husband. Even a two hour span creates an amazing difference in dialect. This is one of the best articles I’ve read about what we say and how we say it here in South Louisiana.
    Here are a few things even my husband (a native New Orleanian) brought to my attention when we started dating.

    Apparently, we tend to say “somewheres” and include an infamous “s” at the end of the word. I had no idea I was doing this and after my husband pointed it out, I realized everyone in my family did the same thing!

    Ok, forgive my spelling here…
    Conais (pronounced “con- I). This refers to someone (usually a child) who pushes boundaries and acts in a mischievous or sneaky way.
    “Mais, that lil boy is sooooome conais”

    Adding “yeah” to end of a sentence.
    “Mais, that lil boy is conais, yeah.”
    To which a normal response could be…
    “Ohhhh cher, is he eva!”

    My mom is part a dying breed that still speaks Cajun French. She is in her mid 50s and only a few of her cousins and other family members speak the language. I hope one day soon we can rectify this travesty and preserve our strange, unusual, but absolutely perfect heritage.

  29. I am not Cajun but having lived in Louisiana since the age of five I do say most of these. My favorite thing we do is double (or even triple) an adjective to show degree instead of using the word “very.”
    “It’s hot hot outside.”
    “I’m tired tired, me.”
    “Y’all, them crawfish is spicy spicy spicy.”
    etc.
    And I do put the “comma to the top” in “y’all.”

  30. I am from around the st. martinville area. i loved this blog! that’s allll me, yea sha!

  31. What about washing your hands in a ( zinc )
    Or being told to ( cut the lights on or off )

  32. What about “saving” the dishes, or the laundry? Conversation with roommate (from New Jersey) in college:
    Me: are you going to help me save the dishes?
    Roommate: huh!?! From what? Are they drowning?
    Me: ughrm…. Put them away?

  33. From the Bayou Lafourche area, they use the phrase “I’m going make a grocery bill”– meaning that they are going to the store to buy groceries. In the olden days, you paid your bills at the end of the month,,,,

  34. Keep them coming, everyone! Up next, maybe we can do something like North of I-10 Cajun talk vs. South of I-10 Cajun talk. Or Ville Platte vs. Opelousas vs. New Iberia.

  35. I live in the Houma area so I often hear…”up da bayou” “going make a grocery bill” “going to the bank to get cash money” “you coming sleep over” instead of “can you spend the night”. “Make a bed on the floor” instead of “you can make a palette”Im from north Louisiana and never hear of the lingo until I moved south. Totally didnt world.

  36. “I need to pass a mop” means “I need to mop the floor.”

    “Put out the light” (probably stemming from the time most people used kerosene lamps” meaning “turn the light off”

    ” hot hot or cold cold” means “very hot or very cold”

    “Where you at?” Means “Where are you?” This generates a tremendous amount of humor when said to people who come from other states!

  37. elaine schiller (nee zaunbrecher)

    i caused a big misunderstanding once when I forgot to use ‘y’all’, being still in northwest u.s. mode . We need this word; there’s no other 2d person plural unless we want to say ‘youse’.
    When we were growing up in Rayne, Acadia Parish, our daddy used to quote his parents’ remedy for any farm injury, “Let me put you a little coal oil on that, cher! “. Meaning kerosene, the universal disinfectant ointment.

  38. Kerosene! The store my Mawmaw and Pawpaw ran in Opelousas had a kerosene pump right there in the entryway. People would come in with gallon jugs to fill them up. This was in the 1980s. Hard to believe sometimes.

  39. Got grief from northerners for saying “y’all two do this and y’all three do that” !

  40. Great article!!!!
    I’m from New Iberia (maiden name is Theriot), and when I moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU, I quickly learned that not everyone says “get down” when they really mean “get out of the car and come inside”….same with calling a grocery shopping cart a “buggy,” a tennis shoe a “Tenny shoe,” and a girls’ hair band a “poodookie”!!!!

  41. I love this! I’m from Tennessee but have lived in Lafayette for over three years, and the “study” of local speech has been one of my favorite parts of being here. One that I find particularly charming and interesting is the swapping of sentence structure, sort of to make a question from a statement, such as:

    “You saw dis?” when asking someone if they’ve seen what you are looking at
    “Why they didn’t just buy one?” instead of “Why didn’t they just buy one?”

    Love it!

  42. Linda Armstrong

    I like to think of Yall as a word on its own merit….like them or they. Using the appostrophy tells me you’re a yankee.

  43. My husband is from Kaplan, LA and is straight-up cajun, even plays the accordion! His accent is tick-tick, it’s a hoot! I love this post, it’s perfect! I’m always making fun of him for asking me if I’m gettin’ down from the car or if I’ll save the groceries!?! LOL My response is always something silly like yeah I’ll get down, can you get the ladder and is there a flood coming, we should save them fast? You are completely right about northerners thinking we use y’all for everything including talking to one person, damn Yankees they just don’t comprehend the usefulness of this contraction LOL!

  44. Paula Ramsey

    “Save the dishes. Save the clothes, save the groceries” in New Iberia, for put away.

  45. Suggestions for addendum:

    I love this article but perhaps you could add some info to it? I live in Lafayette, LA and am a French and francophone studies major. We get the phrase get down from the French verb, descendre, meaning to descend, get down. This verb is used to descend from cars or trains, etc. Put up is a good Cajun phrase but also consider the verb and its context, to save. Save the dishes, save the laundry, etc. Also, we get the phrase “make groceries” from the French verb set: faire l’épicerie; meaning to do or to make groceries.

  46. Come sleep ta da house is an invitation we often heard as kids.

  47. My husband is from Lafayette. If I’m doing something to slow or can’t figure it out, he says “give” , like hand it to me to fix. He also says ” I never done him nothin”, as in, I’ve never wronged him. I also love it when he says ” I can do that yea huh yea! Always a “huh” between 2 yeas as if to make his point. Yet I’m from North Louisiana and if I ask him to “push the door to” (close), he always ask me “where do you want me to push it to”? Heaven forbid I ask him for a “fly flap”…I love the way they talk!

  48. I moved from Houma to Atlanta in 2001. This article made my day. Thank you.

  49. “The other day”. Anything in the past that wasn’t yesterday.

  50. Born & raised in Alexandria, was living in NYC at the time when this exchange occured:
    me: I’m fixin’ to go get me some lunch.
    co-worker: Get. Me. Some?
    me: (confused. did I stutter?) Yeah. Get me some lunch.
    ….
    Oh. My south is showing again.

  51. Diane Vizinat

    Hi Ken- this is Diane (Myers) Vizinat. Andre’s mom! Did not know you were an author! Plan to get reading some of dem books dat chu dun writ. Anywho ju’ dun lef out ” stay by you”. I’m gonna come stay by you house- translation. I’m planning in staying with you for a visit ! Take care, love this.

  52. My uncle once called a restaurant in Lafayette to ask if they had good crawfish. The conversation went like this:
    Uncle: Y’all got some crawfish?
    Man: WHAT?!
    Uncle: They big?
    Man: IF!
    Uncle: Okay, I’ll be there in a little while.

    The end. Gotta love Louisiana!

  53. I have been “removed” from my hometown of Bourg, La for 15 years now. One of the things I still do is saying “yeah” after a lot of things, i.e. “It’s hot out there, yeah!” My husband still says two words that crack me up “bald eggs” (instead of boiled) and “tawlet” (instead of toilet). My whole life I thought the word was “Sha” and not “cher” in the correct spelling.

  54. Boo-koo (from beaucoup), meaning a whole bunch. “Mais, we went to Holly Beach this weekend and caught bookoo crabs”

  55. One that I just recently realized isn’t proper English is “going get” or “went get” instead of “going to get” or “went to get.” A friend from Minnesota recently pointed it out to me! I’d never even thought twice about it.

  56. catch me that! very popular in vacherie, used to ask someone to give you an object!!!

  57. Dwayne R Prejean

    From Scott, La. My dad used “Rodier” – to wander around as in: My mom, she is out rodier-ing.

  58. Other than “getting down” at the store, the other one I had to get used to when I moved to Opelousas was that my husband and his family “save” their groceries. I picked on him forever about that, but now I say it!

  59. I grew up on the Westbank of New Orleans, but it wasn’t until I met/married my husband who was born & raised “down the by-yuh” in the Cut Off/Larose area that I heard the bulk of these. The one I didn’t see in the post or comments is envie (pronounced on-vee), which means a craving.
    “Mais, I got an envie for some crawfish. We are now living down the by-yuh (bayou) with our 4 kids & I find myself using most of these on a daily basis!

  60. My Mother-in-law who is from Covington would always say to babies/children “time to go do do”. (Pronounced w/long o sound)
    Meaning go to sleep.

  61. And a Cajun don’t ever “take” anything anywhere. They “bring” it. An old couple I knew that moved from south LA to the lake would “bring dey grandkids swimmin'” at the lake. Or they got to “bring” the car to the shop to get it fixed.

  62. Matthew Claiborne

    You’re from Opelousas and now live in New York?! Me too! 🙂

  63. Mais, yeah, Matthew!

  64. “Been knowing” or “been having.” As in:
    “Who, Andy? I been knowing him since we were little kids.” (or “little fots” which is another one that may be specific to Opel)
    or
    “Did you get a new car?”
    “No, I BEEN having that one. I been having it since at least 2008.”

    Also, “who’s the baby for?” is the way that a Cajun asks who the father of an unborn child is. Learned that these are not commonplace terms once I moved to Chicago.

  65. Margaret Todd

    Being from Jeanerette, we never used the “put up” phrase unless referring to the bounty of summer: figs, corn, okra, etc. “We put up three gallons of corn and 22 jars of figs this week!”

    Referring to putting away laundry, groceries, etc., it was to “save.” We save the clothes and groceries after we get down at the store!

    And there’s always an “s” after “where” as in “somewheres” or “nowheres” or “everywhere’s.”

  66. We never said “making groceries” in St. Landry Parish but we did say “make the block” which means to drive/ride/walk around an entire block, back to where your started. “You get down at the store and I’ll make the block and pick you back up right here.”

  67. Trey Hodson

    Thank you, Jimmy Bajingo. I was just about to explain “Come see!”. As with most Cajun words, they derive from French, but a shortened (for ease?) version. “Come see” is short for “Come ici” (pronounced Ee-see), which comes from the French “Venez-ici”, literally “come here”. The Cajuns used a half-English and half-French version and made it “Come See”.

    Also, as my name is Trey, I felt obligated to point out that “Tres” (Tray), as used as a third-generation name actually comes from Spanish. The word “très” (with the accent) does exist in French, but it means “very” which doesn’t make much sense as a name. I thought the origin of the word was important, as everything else Cajun comes from French.

    I lived in Lafayette for about 5 years and LOVED trying to listen and learn all the little nuances to that language.

  68. ain't got a name

    How many times in English class did “ain’t” is not a word

  69. My husband actually does say “y’all” when referring to one person. It makes me want to slap him.

  70. I’m from SE Iowa and some of that is pretty similar to how we talk up here. “Get down”, “put up”, “come see” and the cutting of the TH sound. Maybe some sort of language hanger-on from before the Louisiana Purchase?

  71. Kathy Ganley

    “Pass a good time”…? That was the oddest expression I had ever heard what I moved from Tennessee. Lessley Fontenot, where are you from? My maiden name is Lessley.

  72. LeAnn Ashley

    I’m from Houma and a lot of my friends from Chauvin say speed up or slow down the volume instead of saying turn up the volume or turn down the volume. Anyone else hear of that??

  73. Vient voir – come see
    I like the phrase Hot Na Na.

  74. I love this! I always get where are you from when I open my mouth! I grew up in kaplan and we have a worts that no one else says not even surrounding towns. Poodoo = trashy, nasty
    “That is so Poodoo!”
    “She is Poodoo!”

  75. One that would raise questions was when I lived in California and would say “I’m gonna jump through the shower.”

  76. Keith Hebert

    Make groceries is NOT cajun, that’s New Orleans. And the author is an idtiot for not being proud of our unique slant on the English language.

  77. What about hookin up the dishwasher and grabin me that tea towel? Born , bred and registered. Live in Dallas now.

  78. Thanks, Keith Hebert. It took literally thousands of views and over 60 comments before you came along to completely misread what I wrote. Who says I’m not proud? No one else seems to be jumping to that conclusion. And I said specifically I didn’t think “making groceries” was Cajun.
    You also misspelled idiot.

  79. Really Keith Hebert, where’s your sense of humor, or, joie de vie? I’m from Eunice and found the whole article spot on and very entertaining, let’s celebration our differences and our culture, not beat people over the head with it…and, my contribution…”ask” vs “axe” … I once dated a guy from Oklahoma and every time I started a sentence “I want to ask….” he’d interrupt me with “what, you’re a lumberjack” or “Oh no, I’m in a Horror Movie.” Needless to say, by the end of the relationship I really did wish I had an “axe.”

  80. Keith Hebert

    I love to celebration.

  81. This is great yea. I was born in Lafayette, but didn’t spend much time there. I foolishly teased my mom growing up when she would say “make groceries” instead of something else. Wasn’t until I started studying French I realized the beauty in the Cajun dialect.

  82. Love this. I say most of these. I also have a bad habit of saying things in Cajun french as well. I spent many years practicing my “good English” and trying to not sound too Cajun as to not be teased. I am sad to say I was made to feel ashamed of my heritage as a child. I now am so proud of it. I don’t try to hide the Cajun at all anymore. I’m sure you probably heard this somewhere along the way :”Tete dur” It means hard head and “Canaille” mischievous. I was called both often.

  83. I love canaille. There was a French restaurant up the street — or down the road — in Brooklyn called Canaille and I laughed every time I walked by it. Maybe I should have eaten there instead of laughing, because it closed.

    I’d also say that the teasing I got was a) mostly good nature and b) from 19-year-olds, so they didn’t know any better. People want me to talk that way these days, but I tell ’em they have to earn it.

  84. aspamseesit

    I growed up in Pas’agoula, MS, on da edge uv Cajin Country. I never learned to tawk no Franch, no, but my family is scattered from Mobile to Mandeville, so ah had to learn to hear me some Franch, yeah.

  85. I don’t know how I forgot this one: “Mais talk about.” What’s the best translation for that? Obviously? Of course?

  86. I’m sorry, but y’all all have it wrong. Grocery is always singular, no matter how many items you get at the store, you “make grocery” and when you get it home, you “save the grocery.”

    And a Cajun puts waste items in the “thrash can” but he “trashes the rice” instead of thrashing it or removing the grains from the stalk. And when the difference between two things is very slight, “c’est tout l’meme chose”. (say two la mem shows – it’s all the same, or it’s all the same choice.) To turn the light switch so that it’s the opposite of what is is now, is to “cut the light” – to turn it on or turn it off, the instruction is the same.

    I grew up in Elton, so like my daddy I was “born coup-rouge but raised coon-ass” (maybe the best of both worlds?)

  87. “Mais talk about” is Cajun for “emphatically!” or “You haven;t said the half of it!”

  88. One that we use all the time when greeting a friend is “What you say, (insert name)?” It means hey, how are you, what’s going on?

  89. Thanks, Linda! Was struggling to come up with the American equivalent.

  90. This was entertaining to read! I live in Ascension and moved to Lafouche area and even the differences there turned a little heads when I spoke. They really get a kick out of “makeing groceries” (it feels weird saying it any other way). As for “Mais” The only time my family use it is with “Mais well” as in “Might as well”…”I mais well take the trash out, ’cause nobody else is” “I might as well take the trash out, because no one else is”. Great post! (And don’t get me started on the pronunciation of last names like “Hebert”).

  91. Holly Bellard

    You forgot “save”! Save the dishes!!! Save the clothes!!! Save the groceries!! 🙂 northerner: save them from what??? Are they in danger?? Cajun: no! Put them where they belong!

  92. Rachael Keller

    Mais, you forgot, “Mais, goh-day-dohn!” from the archaic French “Regarder donc!” translated, “Look thus!” I LOVE IT HERE SO MUCH.

  93. Bane of Joey Durel

    I cured myself of it a long time ago, but as a kid a commonly used phrase was “Mais!” or “Mais la!” And ‘haunte’ also got a pretty good workout. As in “Girl, I’m haunte* for you” (after a friend did something particularly embarrassing so as to bring shame upon herself or her family or community ;))

    * spelling subject to correction or mockery

  94. Perfect description of our fantastic culture! People poke fun at us all the time, but it’s so much more fun when one if our own does it correctly!

    Ps. I come from a small town where you either live “up the river”, “down the river”, or “in town.” And when you need something (groceries, cigarettes), you “go to the highway.”

  95. Sitting in my brother’s house nursing my newborn; in walked a true Cajun, she said, “Aww, mama’s makin groce
    ries for da baby. Sha.”

  96. Ellen Delatte

    In Avoyelles Parish, we say “Bais” instead of “Mais”.
    Son: Is there any coffee in the pot?
    Me: Bais check! And pour on it if there’s not.
    Translation: Well, I don’t know, but make a fresh pot (by pouring boiling water on the grounds) if the pot is empty.

  97. I am from St. Martinville, la… We call a refrigerator an icebox. Such as, Save the groceries in the icebox. And we also use the word vap instead of idiot.

  98. In New Iberia we use
    Save – as in save the clothes/groceries, etc. Meaning to put them away.
    Fit in a – short for fixing to, as in “about to”

  99. When the price of gas goes up, we say “Gas is high, yeah”

  100. jamie saucier

    In Ville Platte they say “skin the rabbit” it is used when you are getting your bebes ready for their bath. You take off their clothes you say “skin the rabbit!” Never heard that before I married a Ville Platte man lol. Also dey running the roads..or galvanting..means they out doing some mischief.

  101. jamie saucier

    You got some gradu on you( or some dirt)..I’m not sure how it’s spelled..

  102. See me?…ah cud eat some serious shrimps, me ! Oh yeah, sha.

  103. Rebecca Gotte

    We still call a refrigerator an “ice box,” say “mais la” (similar to ‘well then!’- term of exasperation), “vien oi ici” (come here, you), and “chu” (calling someone an ass). It’s your Maw Maw and Paw Paw and your Momma and your Daddy. If you use the actual word Mother, Father, etc, you’re a weirdo. And we all have a Nanny (godmother) and a Paran (godfather) even if you’re not Catholic.

  104. Olivia Munson Leporace

    I laughed at dis yeah. We used to “roday” (drive around). I’m in the Northwest now and people have never heard of a washeteria, in New Iberia we had the Wishy Washy Washeteria.

  105. I loved reading this article! I’ve been laughed at by a few out of town friends for saying “yous-ta-could” as in I “used to be able to do something”.

  106. Diana Girouard

    At my house, we “saved” the groceries.

  107. What about “Coh!” (Spelling?) As in “Coh, she talks a lot! If!” Something my Mama used to say was “Going to town to get a bread.” Or my favorite “Let’s go, so we can come back!”

  108. I really enjoy both the article and the comments. Brings back a bunch of memories I have suppressed for 30 years!

  109. Christy Captain

    Im from central Louisiana and we say fixin ta which means im about to do that

  110. Litany Boudreaux

    “Put gas” instead of get gas

  111. ecargalle@gmail.com

    Fancy mouth…? Is that a Cajun thing? My husband (from Morgan City, Louisiana) uses it when someone is being picky about food. He’ll say “he’s a fancy mouth” about our 10 year old son when he won’t eat something. Also, I had been with my husband about 5 years when we got a cat and the first time he called her in from the outside he called “com’on meenew”. I’m guessing it means cat.

  112. Great read. I am from Houma Louisiana, born and raised. Other than what has either been listed or mentioned in some way, I thought of only two that are missing: “They have some and picking up a mess.”

    Here, we say: they have some in the icebox.

    Son- mah, you have some stinky cheese?
    Mah- yes, they have some in the icebox

    Never thought anything of it until we had a guest visiting from Florida: He then asked, who is they?

    Also, I am picking up a mess of shrimp.

    Meaning that someone dropped off an amount of shrimp (that would fill your largest cooking pot) and I was de-heading them and then packing them in double ziplock bags for the freezer.

  113. “I’m GONNA go make some groceries in three or two hours”… translation – I am going to go get groceries in a couple of hours or so…

  114. I had a psych professor at LSUE who was from elsewhere and he thought it was weird that we asked a question, but it didn’t sound like a question, as in, it did not begin with who, what, when, where, why, or how, or any other manner that would indicate an interrogative sentence. For example, “You watched the game?” If you’re asking a question, you would obviously put an inflection on the last word, but it could sound to someone who isn’t used to the way we speak as a statement. He said that someone said “you watched the game?” and he was confused as to how they knew he watched the game. 🙂

  115. Courtney Odell

    Save: to put away. Ex: Would you please save the dishes? I grew up in Broussard LA. This article is spot on! I will definitely be checking out the book, cher.

  116. My favorite would have to be mais la(pronounced man la). General used as an expression. IE: My momma just had open heart surgery ME: Mais la. How’s she doin?

  117. Great article! Good writing!
    I’m in Portland, OR now, but here are a couple Bayou Teche-isms from my youth.

    1. Very fast= “Fass fass!” No need for adverbs–just double the adjective 🙂
    Works for anything!!

    2. My grandmother, as I’m walking out the door for a run: “Mais sha, you gonna take you exercise?”

  118. “Veins par ici” it means come over here. I didn’t know until about 2 years ago that bit everyone knew what it meant. I was in college in texas and told my roommate

    Me: “viens par ici”
    Roommate: “what” *with a confused look on her face
    Me: “viens par”
    Roommate: “what!?” (As she gives me a weird look)
    Me: “come see. You’ve never heard that before?”
    Roommate: (laughs) “No!”

  119. Reblogged this on hellovcbroussard and commented:
    The Cajun language has a very unique style.

  120. While working in Oklahoma, I was constantly teased about my pronunciation of the words yesterday and tomorrow. ” I went yestiday, and I’m goin back tamarra.”

  121. And NO ONE has mentioned PooYie?!?!? !

  122. I moved to Tallulah (North Louisiana) from Lafitte (South Louisiana) in the winter of fifth grade, and man, did I have a hard time understanding the way they talked!! I’m in NYC for over 20 years now, and when I ask my NJ-born husband “whatcha got an envie for”, it’s usually for grillades, gumbo or jambalaya. Oh, and we had a couple of shoo-shoos go off (not go off) when we shot off the fireworks a couple of weeks ago!

  123. You forgot:
    – coke: as in “you wanna coke?”
    “Yeah.”
    “What kind?”
    “Sprite.”

  124. And thank you for clearing up the y’all thing ! I hate it when people say we call one person y’all. I mean that’s just silly.

  125. @jamie saucier, I’m from Mississippi. My grandparents used to say “skin the cat” when we kids had to undress, for a bath or whatever. I like that there are other animals that mean the same thing. I love language.

  126. When trying to say “goodbye” to someone who just doesn’t stop talking, we say: “ok, Cher. Let me let you go.” A friend from out of state pointed this out to me. She said it was a very polite way to be rude!

    Also: tataille — [tah-tie] — cajun word for a monster or scary creature. I’ve recently discovered that not many people outside of S Louisiana were ever afraid of the tataille! Nor had they heard their old Taunt say “Come see, cher. Lets clean those tataille tatailles from your nose.”

  127. One thing I heard constantly around Lafayette, Louisiana was the phrase “I gotta be to” meaning I have to be at some place. Ex: “I gotta be to work soon”
    Also I’ve heard the phrase “no more good” in reference to something having gone bad or spoiled. Though I hear it mostly from much older Cajuns. Some of whom speak English as a second language.

  128. Gwen Mergist

    And “PooYi Yie”…..means ‘very’ PooYie

  129. In Crowley, La if they don’t feel like doing something, they say “I have the don’t wants”.

  130. What a great blog! I’m from Lafayette, born and raised, but my parents are Asian, and the Cajun dialect doesn’t show much in my every day speech (I live in DC now), BUT I’ve had two different people point out things that I say that are pretty Southern/local. I occasionally say things like, “I can go over there?” instead of “Can I go over there?” and when I was in graduate school, more than 7 years after I’d last lived in Louisiana, I said “I want to see what grades we MADE!” instead of “got” or “earned.” As in, “I made an A on that test!” This is apparently is a Southern/Louisiana thing.

    The other thing I’ve noticed: everyone, and I mean everyone, from Lafayette calls those bounce-house/moon-bounce things “Fun Jumps.” I think it’s the only business (or was for a long time) that rented them out in Lafayette. I didn’t even realize until I was grown up that they weren’t called Fun Jumps everywhere else.

  131. My favorite is “get” like “get the door”. Confused my out of state relatives so bad. And did anybody else’s parents threaten to “go get the paddle” before you got whooped?

  132. What about the “freesons” = goosebumps.
    My paw paw used to threaten to put the “Gris Gris” on us if we didn’t behave= a Cajun voodoo hex.
    Oo ye yi! = Ouch! or I am sad.
    Ca c’est bon = That’s good!
    Hose pipe = water hose

  133. Can’t believe he ain’t mentioned neutral ground, over by (as in, “Are ya goin’ by T’s house”, meaning TO, NEAR, AROUND, OR ANYWHERE WITH 50 MILES OF T’s House), ride me to (as in, “Will ya ride me toT’s house if ya goin’ over by der?) Just to name a cpl. lol. Maybe they in his book, guess will have to order.

  134. My MawMaw from N Louisiana (Talullah and Lake Providence) says “yonder” as in She is over yonder (there) and icebox.

  135. Samantha Mier

    In my little area we have a word that the rest of Louisiana hasn’t heard.. Badookie! Lol! It’s the word we use for a ponytail holder. We moved to the Baton Rouge area and I will never forget the facial expression of one of my high school boyfriends when he took my “badookie” out of my hair and told him to give it back. He looked so concerned and asked if it was some kind of sex toy. I just about died laughing! To be honest as a child I thought the whole world called it a badookie til my momma told me different!

  136. I didn’t realize until I met my husband from Texas that the rest of the country calls the hosepipe a waterhose. He also asked me why we say “yeah” at the end of declarative sentences. I wasn’t sure, but I just told him it must be because we want to make doubly sure that whomever we’re speaking to knows we mean what we said lol.

    Also, learning to cook from my mawmaw, who can still speak French but never does because she was shamed as a child, I always heard that when browning sausage for a gumbo you have to scrape the bits that stick to the pot off. I have no clue how you would correctly spell this, but she pronounced the word, referring to the bits stuck to the pot, like “grah-tawn” with the tongue hitting (almost like a “D” sound) on the “R” and not quite fully pronouncing the “N”. You brown the sausage then add the onions and use the water from them to get the “grah-tawn” from the sides because they hold flavor.

  137. I’m from Lafourche parish, we used the term cospolette. It roughly translates to mismatched, but can mean trashy or scandalous. All depends on who you are talking about.

  138. I sat through an entire class presentation at USL on a community service project to clean out a “coulee” not having a clue what they were talking about. Finally when we got to the Q&A I asked “What is a coulee?” The group got a failing grade because they hadn’t properly explained that a coulee was a ditch. I felt awful. Still do. Growing up in New Orleans I had never heard the term.

  139. janet legendre

    My favorite is when I was in another state & tried to purchase a “hose pipe”. The salesman looked so confused. So I described it long & green water comes out of it. Oh a garden hose. Lol

  140. surprised no one said “tee-tee” for when they go #1…I had no idea this was odd until movin from BR to NW Ohio. And “y’all” is a dead giveaway but you’ll never hear “you guys” come outta this mouth…just doesn’t taste/sound right! Also I was blessed with a “Meemaw and Deedaw” and those always get strange looks, although Meemaw is super common back home. And grocery carts will always be “buggies!”

  141. I once said that it was “fixing to rain” to a couple of people in New Jersey. i thought they were going to die from laughing. I quickly learned to think before I spoke.

  142. Great article. I’ve lived all over the country and traveled the world. The Cajuns are the most down to earth people. I now live in New Orleans and yes it is NOT Cajun… even though they love to stamp “Cajun” on everything. I’m guessing it’s to make the food taste better. (And it works!)
    Acadiana (Lafayette, and the surrounding areas) have a unique culture that separates it from the rest of the South. I hope it is preserved and lasts forever.
    p.s. Somebody bring me a plate lunch with rice and gravy! I took those for granted.

  143. A few I thought about…some of these may be specific to the lower or southern Lafourche Parish area.
    –“hose pipe” for water hose–“Turn on the hose pipe so we can rinse the car.”
    –“ice box” for refrigerator–“Open the ice box so we can save the cold stuff.” This term has continued from when ice was used in boxes before electricity.
    –“not nothing” for is nothing–“There’s not nothing left in the box.”

  144. Stephanie B.

    I am a tall, redheaded, blue-eyed, Texas girl from “across da river der”. Anyway, I remember attending my ex-husband’s family reunion in Rayne, LA, frog capital of the world. They looked at me like I was from another planet, I was at least a head taller than everyone else and 5 shades more pale. The questions on everyone’s lips that day, “Where ya from, girl? Who’s ya people?”. The first question is self-explanatory, the second, however, not so much; it translates “what is your family name?”. Obviously, it was a long day of puzzled looks from both sides of every conversation and a whole lot of muttering in french….and lest we forget all the “ooooo we, sha!” I got as they looked me up and down. Apparently marveling at my height. Ahhhhh memories! 😉

  145. Donna LeBlanc

    One that I don’t hear too much anymore, but a favorite: “Beb” (a substitute for cher). That’s what you call a kid or loved one. Also I still call cracklins, gratons (roll the “r”). Beignets are “bah-yays.” And no matter what time a visitor leaves your house (even midnight), as soon as they say they are leaving, the first words out of your mouth are “Mais, it’s early!”

  146. Deane (Roy) Bruner

    I’m originally from Kaplan, LA, lived all over this crazy country for the last 22 years now and I tell you there is NO PLACE like Southwestern Louisiana! My husband is from Illinois and I got all kinds of grief when we first married for things I’d say…mainly “saving” something or “getting down” or maybe I was “fixin to do that”. The thing I have noticed though (probably because my husband and our kids are quick to point it out) is every time I’m back for a visit I almost instantly get the accent and the dialect going…Love where I’m from…don’t want to see it change.

  147. Gradu = something grody

  148. Now, Ah’m gonna go eat me some breakfast

  149. Stephanie B.

    My dad’s family hail from Hemphill, TX and they use the phrase “turn the window down”, meaning “roll down the window” when riding in a vehicle. Another favorite, you are never called by your given name. You have to be introduced by your lineage. Such as, I am “Melvin Cecil’s, oldest son’s, youngest daughter” and then people are like “Ohhhhhh yeah, ok! I knew you when you were only this high!” giving a measurement with a hand gesture.

  150. Gonna make a pass = coming over for a visit (not flirting)
    Got the gras-doos = not feeling too well or sad

  151. Very entertaining, especially reading through the comments. Wha a mixture of languages and colloquialisms. I grew up south of New Orleans, so I have a mixture of NOLA and Cajun thrown in together and with my sister living in Thibodaux, I have added many more from that region. Now living in Texas, there is no hope for “proper” English. My Mississippi born husband has been trying to explain “bring and take” to me for 27 years. He does get a kick out of hear me say ‘mah-nase’ for mayo. I am still likely to ‘pass by your mama and them on the way to town’ and ‘come sleep by your house’ , have an envie, and say ‘a me-zar” (une misere) when times a tough.

  152. Deane (Roy) Bruner

    We used dishrags to wash the dishes and washrags in the shower and bath, not dishcloths and washcloths. We also said “that’s fonky” if it didn’t look right or smell right. And “Do what” when we didn’t quite hear what you said.

  153. katherine Weaver

    I was born and raised in Louisiana. I moved to Georgia 2 1/2 years ago at 59 years old. This is the first time living anywhere but Louisiana. I have been axed (asked for you people from anywhere else) to explain whatbi was saying. Just a few I can think of right off. Washateria (laundrymat) hose pipe ( garden hose) and my favorite I have said my whole life “back behind” (behind what ever you are taking about like “it’s back behind the house”.

  154. Lacey Cheramie France

    I absolutely love this! Here in southern Lafourche parish we’d say “sha tee bébé!” This blog reminds me of when a guy asked my friend out by telling her, “Mais, I wanna go out wit you, me!” The words “stepin” (panties) and “conson” (men’s briefs) are used daily in our household. People think we sound uneducated, but I think its a shame that we are losing our uniqueness.

  155. Be there for 3 o’clock . . not AT 3 o’clock

  156. Let’s not forget that S Louisiana is the only place you will hear a deceased family/friend refered to as “defain” in conversation.
    “Remember that time we were at the party and defain Joe showed up…”

  157. Here’s a few more:
    *Talking to my Texas friends*
    Me-“I think I’m just gonna make a rice and gravy for supper.”
    A-“Well what else are you gonna cook?”
    Me-“Huh?”
    A-“Rice and gravy is just a side! You need meat and veggies and stuff!”
    Me-“What you talkin bout? Rice and gravy is meat and sausage, cooyon!”

    And we have to explain that meal every single time.

    Meals of the day are Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper.

    They are crawfish, not crawdads or mud bugs.

    Do-do and doo-doo are very different!!

    “Go night-night” is an acceptable form of telling a child to go to bed.

    Icebox instead of refrigerator.

    “Touché pa sa!” (spelling) Don’t touch that!

    “Fe pa sa!” Don’t do that!

    “Ferm la port!” (Pronounced fem la pot) Shut the door!

    Cabon – Shed

    “I’ma go fish.” – I’m going fishing.

    Peerow – Little boat, canoe.

    The list can go on and on!! My spelling on a lot of these are wrong, but that’s what they sound like in Eunice, Elton, and Basile.

  158. How about “fixin’ to”

  159. “Over yonder” instead of “over there”
    “Down the bayou”

  160. “Buggy” rather than “cart” my northern friends laughed so hard the first time I said that.

  161. I am from Lafayette and my parents are from Connecticut so I saw a lot of these phrases as an outsider growing up in Lafayette with northern parents. The ones that stood out to me most were “Boo”,”save the groceries”, Or towels or dishes” whatever they wanted put up, the extra usage of yeah and no “dat wasnt me no. Or it was fun yeah! …just to name a few! I spent my childhood being asked where I was from. Born and raised in Lafayette, La. P.S. I learned to cook from my friends parents 😉

  162. Rhonda Owensby

    Love this

  163. As embarrassed as I am to say this…my aunts used to tell me they were ” gonna learn me something” when they had to show me how to do something

  164. I have lived in S. La my entire life. During my college days at SLU, i asked my neighbor if i could borrow his “hose pipe” LOL, he had no idea what i was takling about. After several attempts , my friend bursted out “garden hose” .. I thought everyone called it a hose pipe. This was a great read!

  165. I read the whole article and the comments and I laughed and cried!! All of my old uncles and aunts (the ones from my grandparents generation who spoke Cajun French as a primary language and learned English second) have passed in the last few years. And with my dad gone too (he was one of the generation that was spanked at school for speaking Cajun French) these words feel like music to my ears!! I use some of these some of the time but I have used almost all of these growing up. the only thing I didn’t see that I think is uniquely Cajun is using double adjectives with the same meaning. Maybe it is just my family, but I often say things like “little tiny baby” or “big giant alligator” when you want to convey extra smallness or extra bigness. Also, I never learned Cajun French but I was fluent in the cuss words!! LOL my favorite that I still think on occasion but try not to say out loud is one of my dad’s favorites “chew a bonbon” which means candy ass. LOL

  166. My Pawpaw was a trapper/oysterman/trawler and eventually worked his way into the oilfield. When we would go to his house every Sunday in Chauvin he would ask me or my older brother…….. “Neg, yall dont mine passin the lawnmotor for Pawpaw.” Meaning….. Boys, can you go cut my grass with the lawnmower?

    Phrase: Lower the TV.
    Example: Neg, im on the phone lower the TV.
    Meaning: Lower the volume on the TV.

    Phrase: For instance
    Example:
    Wife: You dont do shit around here.
    Husband: Mais I do all kind of shit Beb, why you say that?
    Wife: Aww Yeah, give me a for instance?
    Meaning. Give me an example.

  167. I can’t believe “save the dishes” isn’t on this great list! I grew up I Cameron Parish (which isn’t that far away, but we didn’t say most of these things!), and “save the dishes (clothes, etc.)” is still the strangest phrase I’ve had to get get accustomed to!

  168. Yes Lacy (sp) it is a shame this is being “watered down” with each generation. I am a transplant Texas-BR – Thibodeaux (others) landing in Big O (Opelousas). As with the German of my background. We loose out heritage. There is NOTH-ING wrong with where we came from. It has made us who we are. Embrace it it can be fun’

  169. I’m from New Orleans, my husband from Ponchatoula. I grew up saying “looka” , that drives him crazy. I even have our kids saying that. “Looka”, meaning “look at”

  170. My mom always told me to “make doe-doe”, meaning to go to sleep, when I was a child. I never realized it wasn’t something everyone said to put kids to sleep until a few years ago when I tried to say it to my friend’s baby. Also, I live in Baton Rouge, but am from the New Orleans area. When I moved here, it took about 4 years for me to say “Inspection Sticker” rather than “Brake Tag”.

  171. Come stay by my house.

  172. I’m really glad that you said New Orleans isn’t Cajun. I wish more people recognized that. Even though some Cajuns may live in New Orleans, it’s not a Cajun area because the majority of people there aren’t Cajun. When I think of New Orleans, I think of Creoles.

  173. Mais, cher, I’m from Mamou, and I didn’t know how to pronounce cucumber in English when I started school. You hit this on the head. 🙂

  174. I’m from Lafayette and never did I hear anyone say hose pipe…it was a garden hose. I did save the dished, get down from the car and took care not to get near a flooded coolie.

  175. Mais, cher, you forgot to tell them how we shorten EVERY question! You know, instead of asking “Are you coming with us?”, we will say something like, “You coming?”, I had a teacher in 7th grade that had just come from Texas tell me that we did that, and I never forgot it! It’s one of those things I think of when I’m traveling and meeting people that aren’t from here. “You know?” 😀

  176. Born and raised in Lafayette, and newly Texan. This list is perfect. Except, you’re missing “Poo yai!” (a personal favorite)

  177. Roseanne (Galyean) Mitchell

    Love this whole thing! I’m an Opelousas native but a child of a Montana mother (Canadian-Irish Catholic heritage) and a North Mississippi (Methodist) father. My mom wanted me to “speak correctly” so I wasn’t allowed to use a lot of the phrases you and others have mentioned here. BUT I could do it anytime i needed to with my buddies! I went to elementary school with kids who had never spoken English until they went to 1st grade. Some had never worn shoes except when they went to mass. When my Texas husband and I moved back home after our years in South Carolina and Maryland and we started working in our family business with lots of local people – it was great! I learned a lot of my phrases and used ’em often. Then I joined our town’s 1st tourism committee and learned so much from my buddy Carola and others like her – like how translating French to English was one reason some of our phrases were spoken the way they were and thankfully still are! My office mate (Sherry B.) made my day most of the time with all her Cajun expressions. I loved it and miss her funny comments now so much. One phrase I love to say when I’ve attended an event that leaves a lot to be desired is: “Poo yie, I coulda gone to Holly Beach!” Meaning: “this event is so boring or isn’t fun – wish I’d gone to the beach instead!” I read all the comments so far and now absolutely must buy your book! I love living here in “the Big O” – the rich Cajun-Creole culture of Acadiana must be experienced to be believed. Keep up the good work, ya’ll. (I went to college in Missouri and started saying “you guys” but I use ya’ll just as often.) Saw some of my friends posted, too! What fun to read all these comments.

  178. Hubs is from Detroit… says you forgot to say that “rice and gravy” means a whole meal including meat, not just rice.

    Also we “go to town” when leaving the vicinity of our homes. Lastly, I tell my kids to turn on the big light… As opposed to the lamp. You know the overhead one.

  179. April (Stelly) Henry

    I love love love this!
    So funny and heart-warming. Born and raised in Lebeau, LA and went to school in Plaucheville, so I got a great mix of of Avoyelles Parish and St. Landry Parish my whole life.

    A couple I haven’t heard mentioned: (not sure of the real spelling)
    “Boo-day” – to pout
    “Bob-bin” – a frown
    For example “Look that bob-bin on his face! He been boo-dayin’ all mornin’!”

    We also use the term “piquantes” for the stickers in the grass. (pronounced “pee-cons” with nasalized “n”) Gah-lee they hurt bad bad!!

  180. Yvette Fontenot

    I grew up in a small town outside Baton Rouge. My husband is from New Iberia. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and all the comments.

    I really didn’t think I had an accent growing up. I worked for a trucking company. I talked to people all day from all over the country. At least once a day, someone would ask where our company was located. After I told them we were near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, they would say, “I love your accent.” I would say, “Mais cher, I don’t got a accent, you got a accent.”

  181. God I loved this! Especially the things in the comment section. I’ve even learned that some of the things I say usually come from an original word, like “Sha”. I can’t tell you how many times my momma has said that, but I only just realized it comes from saying “cher” and it makes total since! Many of these phrases are so true, I can’t wait to go out in the world and hear the different accents and turn of phrases for myself.

    I haven’t seen anyone mention coo-yon, like someone’s being crazy, weird, foolish.

    Also, I’m not sure if it’s Cajun are common only among the south, but my family likes to say, “Good nigh’ Irene” or “Good night Irene.” It’s said when someone’s exasperated.

  182. Fouillailler (foo-yie-yay) is a word that I use a lot, as in “Stop fouillailler-ing with that!” No English word works as well, so I’m doing my part to make it an English word.

    Words that grownups used to use to not sound vulgar probably register with a lot of us, for instance:

    He’s got the foire (fwa).

    and

    Put on your calecons (how do you approximate that, with those soft Ns? COn-SAWnS?)

  183. “Oh it’s about a hop, skip, & a jump.”
    When speaking about distances.

    “Y’all I’m drunker than cooter brown.”

    Also, “you look like you’ve been rode hard & put up wet.”

    I’m from central Louisiana by the way.

  184. Margaret Newman

    Makes me homesick! And you left out neutral ground, pickle pork, nectar soda, leaving out the word “do/did” in questions while changing the verb tense. Example: Why you went without me? instead of Why did you go without me?

  185. Elnora Willis | July 17, 2014 |

    Remembering as a kid how my Texas cousins that talked with that twang found it hilarious how we south Louisiana cousins ended our sentences with “yeah” and “no” as if to confirm what was spoken … “I’m not playin with yo, no!” … I’m going to hurt you, yeah” … we still laugh about that!

  186. Jeri B. Miller

    Hi Ken! Don’t know if you remember me, but I taught at O.C. when you were in high school, and if I remember correctly, you sang with us for a short time in the Queen of Angels choir. Wow! More than 35 years ago, because I left O.C. before my daughter was born, and she will be 35 in November!!!! I really enjoyed the article, and finding out how a former student is doing today. God bless!

  187. Growing up outside Lafayette, we always said “tank the tractor” or “tank the car”, meaning fill it up with gas. We also would “get down” and “save dishes” as previously mentioned. But, I didn’t see, “catch the lights”, meaning turn the lights off. Lol… I’m one of seven and at least one of us was “boo-day” ( meaning sad) or “kuh-nye” ( meaning mischievous) on a regular basis. Good memories….

  188. Langiappe (sp?) — a little something extra, always a pleasant surprise, accident even. You order six wings and get seven. The seventh is langiappe.
    Cooyon — a little idiot, or pain in the ass child, always a boy. Though we call my 200lb dad that to this day. If not applied to a child, usually a term of endearment.
    Fais do do — the two traditional Cajun two step. The real meaning is to go to sleep; parents would put their children to bed and then go out to dance, and it morphed to mean the act of dancing rather than the act of putting to sleep.
    ta tais — a peice of fluff or whatnot. “You have a ta tais on yo dress.”
    Fefolais (sp?) Pronouched fee fo-lay: Cajun ghost, the spirit of an unbaptized child.
    rougarou–(roo Gah roo) Cajun swamp monster, akin to the boogey man. The stuff of Cajun childrens nightmares. He lives in the swamp, has the head of a dog and a body made of moss. Likes to ‘cut troats’ (cut throats)

  189. Deany Cheramie, PhD

    I actually wrote an academic paper on Cajun Idioms about 20 years ago on this same topic. A whole issue of the Louisiana English Journal was dedicated to the topic of Cajun English.

  190. Here’s one that might be limited to Iota and environs: “Look the/your _____”. If I left the bathroom and Mom said “Look, the light,” it meant that I left the light on and should turn it off. As far as I can remember, it had to do with something forgotten or missed or left out. If you were writing down a recipe and forgot to list rice, I might tap the paper you’re writing on and say “Look, the rice.” If I was getting out of a car and Mom said “Look, your sunglasses,” it meant I had forgotten them in the car. Was that in use where you grew up?

    Also, something Andrea touched on above, the Cajun pronunciation of “mayonnaise” rhymes perfectly with the name “Inez.” When I first moved to Austin I went to a drive through and asked for “a burger with tomatoes, onions, and mayonnaise.” There was a pause. The poor confused girl at Wendy’s asked, “Well … minus what?” I now just say “mayo,” because pronouncing all 3 syllables of the word makes me feel like I’m putting on airs. You can take the boy out of Acadia Parish, but you can’t take the Acadia Parish out of the boy.

    The “or” sound is more like an “ar” sound where I grew up too. This is a constant source of amusement to my Texan friend and family. In my mouth, “fork” sounds like “fark,” My brother in law, George, cringes whenever I say his name because it rhymes with “barge.” I do my best to make it rhyme with “forge”.

    And these crazy Texans (as well as the crazy rest of the country, I guess) pronounce the names Erin and Aaron the same. To me, “Aaron” gets that real flat, Cajun short ‘a’ sound, while “Erin” sounds like “AIR in”. And I’ve given up trying to teach them the difference between “parish” and “perish.” >: |

    Louisiana has quite a few different accents, though, right? After you pass Marksville to the north, the accents start getting more and more like East Texas / South Arkansas. Funny: In re the phrase “come here,” the 1st time I heard somebody from Claiborne Parish say it all I heard was “cuh MAY er”. I could not understand what she was saying to me. The closest I could come to making sense of it was that she was inexplicably calling me a tomato. It drives me crazy when TV and movies have their Cajun characters speak with an Arkansan twang. That actor who was “Rene” on “True Blood,” got it right, though.

  191. thaddeus Barrios

    Ive been in the military stationed in California for 4 years and its amazing how I can turn it on and off. I’m from Lafayette born in Morgan City. But every time I come back from leave theres a week period where everyone can’t understand what the hell im saying lol. Cant wait to get back home for good next month with my Californian wife shes in for a show lol

  192. Awesome post…spot on and so funny, and the comments had me cracking up too. Not long after moving away from Lafayette, I was telling someone about an “awl” rig (oil rig). It took several attempts before they understood what I was saying. For the next 20+ years, and living all over the world, I’ve been working on loosing the accent and idioms, but by reading the comments I realize I’m failing miserably. Just this morning I said to someone how we needed to “pass” the vacuum. Oh, dear. By the way, “yall” is a word and, though I use y’all when writing, for the life of me 99% of the time I can’t think of a better word to use. And I doubt I’ll ever shake using sha, but again, is there a better word to describe cuteness? Anyway, loved the post. Thank you for writing it.

  193. Raissa Lejeune

    My favorite that wasn’t mentioned in the article is “Conais” as someone already mentioned.. again, mostly used to describe a child’s mischievous behavior. “Oouu, that little girl right there, she is conais (Kah-nye), yeah!”

    Also, I never realized until I lived in California for a short time that our use of “a while ago” -(uh-wola-go) is not shared across the states.. i was so confused when someone said to me “I bought that shirt right now at the store”… makes no logical since to me, being from south Louisiana, It’s supposed to be “I bought that shirt a while ago” .. right now means it’s happening NOW.. a while ago happened a Lil bit earlier.

    And personally. . I do not like the phrase “save it”… we put it up.. we not savin’ it fa nothin’

  194. Having lived West Coast, up far North and down South, the one that perplexes Yankees is ‘fell out’…
    As in ‘ She fell out when she heard”
    Yanklee- got excited? didnt talk to the person anymore? HUH?
    SIGH- passed out…
    Yankee- OH, guess that makes sense, shaking head and walking away….

    course the whole speaking half english, half french confuses them totally to begin with. LOL

    LOVED the book and reviewed it this week!

  195. Mary Nicholson

    I am from Southern Indiana but have lived down in New Iberia for close to 15 years, (husband is from here). I love the way his whole family talks, and am thankful that my kids get to grow up with this very unique “language”. Lol…..I love the word “envie”, like ” I have an envie for some gumbo.” I also got a case of the “don’t wants” today! Oh and “ice chest” instead of a “cooler”. “Hose pipe” instead of just a plain “hose”…….. The list goes on and on. I LOVE how my mother-in-law talks! She is from St. Martinville, I could listen to her all day and how many times do you ever hear that from a daughter-in-law?! Great article!

  196. Here in Ireland we say “com’ere”, I always feel bad for my friends whose first language isn’t English, well, the N.Ireland version at least.

  197. I feel like I just completed an undergrad linguistics course on Cajun country. Fantastic post. I love the way language changes from place to place.

  198. Renee Young

    How about “pawf bet?” I know I mutilated the spelling, but it means “poor baby.” Despite my Cajun roots, I experienced culture shock when I moved from the Mossissippi Delta to Abbeville in high school. Your blog just about sums it up.

  199. This was so funny! Thanks for the laugh 🙂 Some of these phrases I haven’t heard in years. I can add a few that I remember from growing up in Kaplan:
    ‘kyaw’ = exclamation of surprise, awe or amazement
    ‘poodoo’ = a poor or socially inept person
    ‘cooyon’ = an ignorant, crazy, stupid or silly person
    and sometimes pooyie = in reference to something less than ideal

  200. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, although, obviously, your blog didn’t need the boost.

  201. Thanks, Waking. I got the note about getting Freshly Pressed the day before this post went ballistic on Wednesday. Completely shocked by the Facebook traffic this received. My usual traffic is in the 10s, if that.

  202. I lived in New York for a couple of years as a nanny. I’m from Texas and would say “do what?” when I couldn’t hear what someone had said. The response was always “I didn’t ask you to do anything”. What a great post that brought back that funny memory! Thanks for sharing!

  203. My fav is “Boo-coo”…means alot) 🙂

  204. say Zinc instead of tin and say I crossed u going to town (meaning I passed u on the way to down)

  205. Thank you for the entertainment!

  206. Loved this. Will read your book. One you missed, a variation on ‘put it up’ is to ‘save it’. Oh my God, is it drowning?! Why do I need to save it?

  207. benjamin yanez

    1)No more good. “Dat ol car is no more good, dat.”
    2) hose pipe. = water hose/garden hose.

    The unique words and accent in southern La. Cunfused the heck out of me when I first moved here from N.M. but I’ve learned the ling and now I find myself using some of the things that say. The people from Dulac still trip me up though

  208. One thing I can remember being born and raised in South Louisiana was going to school in Nebraska a few months. I had made quite a few friends their who were very fond of my accent as they called it. I remember one of them asking for something to drink. I had told her ” the cokes were in the ice box.” She said, “whats an ice box do you mean the refrigerator?” Yes, another common phrase used here in the south!😉

  209. Yes! I am from south Louisiana as well, and this made me smile. It reminded me of the short time I spent out of state in the early 90’s. There is certainly no place on Earth like it!

  210. I’m from South Carolina and have lived in East Georgia, Gulf Coast part of Florida and North Texas. A lot of the phrases on here are cajun but most are just plain southern slang.

  211. downtownstyle3

    Just like Britney Spears, she is from Lily y’all.;) Even though she has moved from her hometown years ago she still is so country and simple on her own.
    If y’all buy from my blog you get 10% off on every product, only for you.

  212. A very entertaining post. It’s strange how language changes depending on the area. Here in Lancashire, England we say “She lives just down the road”. Dialect changes occur here over very short distances. Lancashire is an area of about 50 miles squared, yet there are several dialects within it. For instance, Liverpool inhabitants talk very different to those who live just a few miles North or West of the,.

  213. I love funny talk. One of my biggest regrets is not being able to reproduce an accent as well out loud as I can in my mind

  214. I’m from Opelousas, English was a second language for both my parents, so I love this!

  215. Reblogged this on Nothing Figured Out and commented:
    Soooo very accurate. This post is spot on for my heritage. There is no place like South Louisiana.

  216. I would have my mouth open, saying nothing but “huh?” The whole time. Which makes me want to go there and hear it for myself.

  217. Sammy Wilson

    “Dedo” pronounced: dee-doh… is a word I use to put my kids to bed. “Go dedo… meaning go to sleep. Also fais dodo. Means the same thing. Cajun french. Aka informal french. Also buggy… *can you get the buggy so we can get this shopping done?” And “to town”…. do you want to go to town with me… these all flipped the texans out. Lol I’ll post more when I think of any.

  218. My first experience with this is when I made a trip to the upper state New York. I loved to listen to them talk, so every morning I would go to the cafe in the hotel and leisurely enjoy my breakfast and listen to the jabbering going on around me. On my final day, I told one of the ladies who had served me several times, that it was my last day and I would not be in again. I told her ho I had enjoyed listening to them talk and how different it was from my own dialect. She laughed , with a toss of her head, and exclaimed, “That is funny, as we fight over who gets to wait on you as we love to hear you talk…” Point taken….
    Your article reminded me of that experience. Thank you.

  219. Great article! I’m from Houma LA and we say a lot of these too. But we never said “put up” or “save”. We always say “pick up”…I’m gonna pick up the clothes, or pick up the groceries….meaning to put away as yall say. And I tottaly agree with Pas-Bon who said that hearing his uncle call him “neg” was music to his ears. My pop and maw maw used to call me that and it would be music to my ears to hear it. And right that outsiders dont understand it. My mom called someone neg in Ville Platte and he got very offended and she was just saying it as a term of endearment. We won’t go selling shirimp there anymore us for sure! lol….

  220. Aw, y’all have that IF, too? I’m guessing Trinidadian English has it because of some remnant of French ( French Patois was one the lingua franca here and is somewhat endangered now, but we still have done bits left back) does Cajun (????) have the OUI at the end of sentences too, like “He really needs to sleep, oui!” I guess it’s sort of for emphasis sake here, never really questioned why we do it.

  221. when we were having a sleep over we used to say can you come sleep to ma house, instead of saying can you come sleep at my house. This one still drives my mom insane.

  222. I grew up with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny “passing” by my house. When I moved to the east coast people looked at me funny when I said that. Love this article!

  223. We use to get some strange looks when we would say things like, “I have to pick up the house” or “Go pick up your room”

    Don’t forget, “Fixing to” as in “I’m fixing to do that right now”.

    Great article

  224. Great piece. We don’t hear most of those phrases here in Shreveport as it’s basically another world but I have heard people try to say ‘mom and them’ which sounded so strange to me. I would know what was meant my ‘dem’, but it was all said at once. I really thought they were saying mominum. That really had me puzzled.

  225. strangeruins

    Love this! I was born in Southwest Louisiana. I don’t know how I escaped the accent, especially being that Creole was my 1st language. I really enjoyed reading this piece! It speaks well to the contents of your book. So much success you!

  226. I love Louisiana, Love the accent ….. reminds me of ajmaica in some ways.

  227. Love this! It is funny how accents and speech can be so different. I am from Buffalo and we always know a Canadian immediately when talking to one. But I’ve traveled places before where they were convinced that I was Canadian. Anyway. Love the Cajun accent and culture! I would love to go down and visit the area sometime. Thanks for sharing this!

  228. Dialect is as important to one’s roots as food and music. And who can imagine literature without its presence?

  229. martinuslegendary

    Reblogged this on La légende de Martinus (A NOLA) and commented:
    Pour les débrouillards de la langue de Shakespeare , voici un article intéressant sur les spécificités de langage du sud des USA. 🙂

  230. Thankyou very much……
    Nice I’ve read it thoroghlly…

    Do you know silence is the biggest truth……wanna know how…???
    Click on this http://thescienceofspirituality.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/silence-is-the-biggest-truth-5/

  231. I love this. Makes me want to pay New Orleans another visit.

  232. I’m from the North and I love how men from Louisiana speak.

  233. There are a lot of phrases and words in our culture that can be traced back French, but most who are not from Cajun decent (and, judging from some comments, even some who are) fail to realize that there are quite a few that originate from Spanish words and phrases too. Cajun French is such a unique language because it was a combination of English, French, and Spanish. This is a result of the various changes in the governing (or ruling) body over the Louisiana territory. I knew that the language was derived from those origins as a child, but did not understand the historical significance of it until I attended a college level Louisiana history class. I had a friend from Idaho who attended a couple of lectures while he was in town and he said that he had a new appreciation of the vast differences of our state. This is a great article and I love that you made sure to explain the origin of some of our uniquely Cajun lingo… And being a Cajun girl married to a New Orleans man, I completely agree with your statement that they are NOT Cajun! He and I have discussed this fact in the past.

  234. Reblogged this on Big Blue Dot Y'all and commented:

  235. I so enjoyed this! Makes me homesick for Louisiana. I wasn’t born there but lived there several times over the years since 1970. (I now live in Arizona since the early 90s) I picked up some of the phrases you mention and still use them sometimes just because. 🙂

  236. I am from Virginia and even though I have been in Baltimore for 25 years or so, I still get embarrassed about how I say certain words. I try to catch myself, but oh well, I guess it’s true that you can take the girl out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the girl!

  237. Reblogged this on notsotechsavynerd and commented:
    I’m not from Louisiana, but I remember transitioning from southern talk to northern talk was dificult. Y’all is an amazing word that specifies the audience! Hahaha.

  238. ‘Downeast’ (the canadian term for the country’s east coast provinces) we’ve got some pretty deeply engrained expressions that I always believe are universal until I toss them into a conversation with a ‘come-from-away’ (person who lives downeast but cant trace their roots baxk more than 2 generations). Can relate. Keep writing, eh!

  239. I really enjoyed this read! Kept thinking of the movie “Waterboy”. Thank you for sharing.

  240. Thank you for sharing. I’m from India and English here has a healthy dollop of France, Portugal and Britain. It’s quite interesting about all the variations around the world.

  241. Awesome.. i adore your style of writing ..http://expertbloggertricks.blogspot.in

  242. I’m Catalan, my people are from Andorra and we live on both sides of the French Spanish border speaking all three languages, Catalan, Spanish, and French. To boot, my wife is from Houma and I lived in Baton Rouge for about five years. So while not an expert on South Louisiana French I do have some familiarity with it. That is all to say that, in the dialect of French that I speak, to buy groceries is “faire l’achat”, i.e. to make the purchases. I can see how “to make groceries” could be a direct translation of that. Great article, I really enjoyed it.

  243. Mais la (MAY La)
    -cajuns use this expression in many different ways. It can mean “oh well”, “too bad”, “my goodness”
    Example: Mais la! I gotta go to the store again.

    Save it
    -What we really mean is to put an object(s) away, place something where it belongs.
    Example: T-Ken, save the dishes.

  244. I adore your style of presentation..http://expertbloggertricks.blogspot.in

  245. Great post!! Being from Louisiana I can totally relate. Moved away when I was 19 but my accent has followed me everywhere. Oh and only someone from Louisiana, when meeting another person from Louisiana would ask “north” or “south”! By the way, I’m from North Louisiana. West Monroe to be exact! 🙂

  246. All of this is mine…coming from SW LA…but it wasn’t until I asked a friend of mine ( whose memaw had died) when we were 12 “why do we need to visit Me Maw
    at the “pray to God” ?. Turns out, it’s the little kneeler at the front of the casket… I can only guess at it’s true spelling….

  247. A few that I didn’t see in the list:
    Fais do do – Celebration
    Rat the streets – My mom used to always take me out to “rat the streets”. I believe we were just going shopping, meeting up with friends, etc.
    Juking – We would go out “juking” or to the bars. (jooking)
    I’m from up the bayou.

  248. Karen Le Blanc

    I’m gonna tell y’all somtin about dem dare boogalees. Day all over da place. And I like to eat sam-mitches with lots of mon-nas and mustard. And I have an ice box and a hose pipe.

  249. I love this! As an Australian, I can relate. “How are you? Good thanks!” (Never “fine”.) This movie is “heaps good”! How cold is it! (questions as statements). Language is wonderful!

  250. Pingback: Even More Talkin’ Funny: Louisiana Style | THE WORD O' WHEATON

  251. On “come see,” literally in French is viens voir–the s on viens is silent; so is the v in voir–in Cajun French. It more accurately means “come look.” “Come here,” by contrast is “viens ici,” which usually meant, get your butt over here now, you’re in trouble. I loved your article.

  252. Janie Tarman

    I’m originally from NC, but living in Southern Louisiana, a couple of phrases that have struck me are when referring to someone’s age or their birthday:
    “she just made 21” or “he ain’t even made 12” as if it is some huge feat to make it to the next year. Also, this is a simple one but instead of saying “I’ll meet you there AT 6”, Louisianians say “I’ll meet you there FOR 6”.

  253. Thanks for the education! I may have to leverage the Mais word at times….

  254. I love this! I’m from Lafayette and this is how I grew up speaking! I remember I told a friend of mine that wasn’t from Louisiana I was going to put the dishes up, she kept asking me up where lol! I had no idea why she didn’t understand what I meant! I assumed everyone said it that way! I was definitely wrong. Loved this!

  255. Wow, this was really interesting! I love reading about other dialects (particularly the south) and where their roots are. I, myself, am from England, UK. 🙂

  256. ” Each a one ” I will give ya’ll E-Cha-One instead of saying I will give everybody one… Give us what ? they will ask me , lol..

  257. Some of these may well be southern (as in any state below the Mason Dixon, not only the Deep South states) idioms. I’m a New Mexican born and raised and some of those we say here. I have a hard time remembering that not everybody understands how to “get down” from the car, nor that “put up” does not necessarily mean that the object in question needs to be elevated.

    Very well written.

  258. Mann, these posts make me smile. I’m from Abbeville, moved to Meaux, and now live in Lafayette while attending UL. The amount of good cajuns I’ve met in my short life is outstanding. I was a delivery driver around the Acadiana area a while back and began to really hear all the different words us cajuns got to offer. I’ve also been out the state and country quite a few times and find myself missing our dialect (and food of course). These posts make me appreciate our truly unique tounge even more. Thanks Ken! God bless!

  259. I’m from Vacherie and my favorite word is Gre-Ga (Excuse the spelling if I got it wrong) which means Gaudy or Ugly. My Husband is from Up-State NY and I use a lot of these words. But every once in a while one comes out that I apparently hadn’t used before and he just looks at me like I’m nuts. Also when people ask me ware I’m from I tend to just say South of New Orleans since 99% of people have never herd of Vacherie. And 99% of the time they respond, “I didn’t know their was anything South of New Orleans.”

  260. ANNICK LE DOUX

    I came to Duson from France in 1964. My 3 years old son said in my french (France) pointing to a bird on an electric line “regarde la cocotte Maman”. (Look at the little bird). Before I could say anything his Cajun Grand.grandmother said “Mais dis pas ca ti fi d’putain!”. She gave me the impression that she was upset. But then I was very upset too because she told my son “Do not say that you little son of a bitch. Well, of course now I know why. “Cocotte” in France can be a little chicken or a little bird or also an iron pot. My son was pointing at a bird. But to the old Cajun Lady “Cocotte” meant a certain feminine body part and of course she was chocked that my little boy could use such a terrible word. But Cher! Let me tell you when she called my son a little son of a bitch, I too was very upset because where I come from it is very rude. Well, after 50 years living around Cajun I know that most of them ti-pet or Tineg are canailles, and they are also a bunch of ti fi d’putain. Ha! ha!

  261. Pingback: Boo-day! Also: Lost in Translation — French vs. French | THE WORD O' WHEATON

  262. Jamie Saucier, I am from Ville Platte and yes we say skin the rabbit! Isay it to my grandsons. I have been living in Lafayette for 35 years now bur still find myself speaking Ville Plattian!

  263. Thank you
    Blog fantastic
    Good luck
    ………………..
    http://www.8ii.in

  264. In the “Would you like to go fishing” example, I’ve always heard it as “Y’unta.” As in, “Y’unta go fishin’?”

  265. “I don’t know if they taught it to the YATs or caught it from them…” I love dem yats, but never knew it was supposed to be spelled with all caps. Where y’at anyway?

  266. Love it I am from Louisiana and that is how I talk

  267. since i learned french that is spoken in france, im surprised that “tres” means three when it means “very” in france-french yknow??

  268. Lol! You know them LaFleurs from Grand Prairie? Did Madame Grand Doigts pass and leave you some things in your shoe yesterday? Did you “hadeya” hariat all the damn night for the New Year Eve? Caw! I saw him get down at that store and buy 2 12 packs. He always gets so damn drunk all the time, him. Mais la, his Paw Paw was the same. He drove fast fast and like to fight. Caw! pic a pawk pic a pawk. Fight all the time, yeah! Unlight the light and go do do. Cher t’neg, you gonna have the big head in the morning. Go to T-Boys and get some boudin for that. Boudin the best for aluminum flu headache. Cher “pitchie,” you so foo, neg. Cou-cou like your Paw Paw.

    Not much on the Internet anymore but I’m off today and enjoy your blog and other comments. I did work at the Evangeline Parish Library in Ville Platte and will ask around about your novels. I grew up in Evangeline Parish but now live in E-Town,aka, Eunice. La Ville is Ville Platte, en Ville is New Orleans and aux Village is Opelousas in the French around here. Take care and like what you do! –Mike

  269. Pat Thompson Hudkins

    I grew up in Opelousas … A head scarf worn on windy days or to church was a “tee yon” ( no idea how to spell it)

  270. Can anybody Verify this? I’ve heard that to greet someone you say Where y’at (as in where are you at)?

  271. Hi Mike,
    That isn’t used in my part of Cajun Louisiana as a greeting. Where you at can be used to determine someone’s location. Where y’at seems like it would be more from the suburbs of New Orleans, where the Yats live.

  272. So I’m from Northeast LA (the cotton fields) lol. But I’m originally from Lightwood (10 mins) north of Bastrop and my granny used words that nobody would ever thought of. For instance, she used the phrase “res-mar” Lol. Weird right? But it means “some more”.

  273. Im from down da byeya (bayou) and I never had to spell “ba bin” I doubt dats right, so anyone can give me the spelling? Its a meaning for (sad face) the bottom lip sticking out.

  274. It’s funny. See my family is Louisiana n so am I but when my mamma went to California to see some distant cousins they thought she was from Jamaica or some where because of her accent wow lol

  275. Houma native

    you betta watch it boy! Don’t make me pass a slap. Ca’ c’est bet!!!

  276. Reblogged this on Inexplicable Things and commented:
    Love it! Proud!!

  277. Mais, gau da don, (I teach my Mississippi grandchildren this)..and also cooyun, keeyaw, mais la, tete deur to the max (hard head a bunch, I always told my oldest son this), panty draws or conson dawgs, (for their underwear)
    tete de veau (head of a calf), tete da boodecay (head of a donkey) tee ga son (lil child), tee shan (little dog) my grandfather called us these names)
    Taun chu (your butt), foo yud (a lil digger) nervine (a lil nervous one)
    Ge ge (nerdy or undesirable), grody (gross or dirty),
    Fa chan (a lil mess?) piss ant (not French but funny) well, hello central, (if we did something wrong, things my grandmother would say to us)
    My husband always says,” you got a bathroom?” When in a public place, referring to a restroom.
    Eh?! ,( loudly. (What?!) Qua sa dee? (What you said?) I like dat, me!
    Love these sayings !! 😉

  278. Oh yeah, we also had a Momo (great grandmother) sounds like mawmaw,
    Mom mom and Pop Pop (paternal grandparents)
    Mamie and PoPo, (maternal grandparents)
    Maw Maw and Pop (my parents)
    Maw and Paw,aka Grand dad (me and my husband)
    There are many different names used for grandparents.

  279. Carmen Comeaux

    In my family, “t” was added to aunt and uncle, so it was T-taunte or T-nonc (itself a shortening of the original French “oncle”). My dad’s nickname is T because he’s 5’4″. So my cousins will often call him Nonc-T or the redundant T-nonc T.

  280. Casey Grimes-Finley

    Whenever I get mad or excited a heavy,strong Louisiana accent or french creole accent emerges!I’m not from Louisiana but my people are.I didn’t believe it at first until one day I was able to hear it and see what everyone had been telling me about!It was crazzzzzzzzy!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s