If the topic is of daily activities and family matters, comprehension will be good. But if the topic is technical or medical, conversation will be difficult. There are however, many differences in the two languages, most of which were caused by the Cajuns being isolated and separated from continental French since the 18 th century. Even when the Cajuns, then called Acadians, were in Nova Scotia, there was limited involvement with French nationals.
When the Acadians came to Louisiana, again, most had little contact with French nationals. The result was that the French language evolved all languages evolve and Cajun French evolved into another direction. The Cajuns adopted new words necessary to live in a completely different environment.
Words of the Spanish, English, and Indian neighbors began to creep into the Cajun language.
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Additionally, some of the words the Cajuns used were archaic French words which had been modernized in France. Some Cajun words were the same as French, but pronounced differently and sometimes the article of a word was included in its pronunciation.
In other instances, an indirect object, which comes before the verb in French, became part of the verb. It is important to understand that not all Cajuns spoke exactly the same, but they all understood each other and noted the differences of other Cajun speakers. The eastern Cajuns in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes shaped their language to describe their geographical area of marshes and coastal areas where fishing, shrimping and trapping were common occupations. Western Cajuns were usually farmers and cattlemen which required certain terminology.
Ironically, popular Cajun music was developed primarily by western Cajuns. My personal theory is that farmers had more free time to develop the music.
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Finally, some families had some distinctive differences in their language. Also, there was a small town near mine where Cajuns and Blacks spoke French flavored with Haitian constructions.
Then there was the grammar and the almost impossible French verbs. So, I had to work my butt off like the rest of the class. Bellard, author of a Cajun in Franc e. When French Met English. Many of my students were professionals, such as teachers, doctors, lawyers, and others who wanted to learn French for a variety of reason such as for vacation purposes, their parents had spoken the language and others just wanted something to do. At our first class meeting, I explained what we were going to learn and offered tips on learning a new language.
For example, the words institution, imitation, condition, compression, impression and thousands of others are the same in French and English.
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Of course pronunciations are different. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to go back over years to finish the above line of thought—after all, this was a French class, not a history class. Had this been a history class, I would have continued by discussing the dramatic and historic meeting of the French and English languages. During the 11 th century, France and England were not the unified countries with well-defined borders that we know today.
In England, the language was not the English we know. It was mostly a Germanic language. He would be the last of the Anglo-Saxon Kings. Powerful Lords fought to rule various areas of France. The Normans, who were formerly Vikings, settled in Northeast France and assimilated into the French language and culture.
The leader of the Normans was the Duke of Normandy who, on September , launched his invasion of England. That would be the last successful invasion of England. The face and language of England would change forever. The French Normans set the pace politically, socially, administratively and culturally. So thorough was the defeat that the language of the English nobility and most others of consequence became French.
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English nobles who hoped to gain titles, power and influence learned French and played by the rules of the French invaders. Indeed, extinction threatened the very existence of the English language. Ironically, the common English peasants came to the rescue of English.
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They had no reason to learn French and continued to speak English in their daily lives. Additionally, they overwhelmingly outnumbered the Normans. The process took almost years, but English prevailed. However, the English that prevailed was not the same one the peasants saved. English, being Germanic, was a rather harsh language. The addition of the French words softened some of that harshness. Finally, it made French easier to learn for English speakers.
An Interesting Parallel. In Louisiana, Many Cajuns in the mid 20 th century began to become educated, achieve upward mobility and drop the Cajun-French language and culture. Other Cajuns stayed on the farm, many as sharecroppers and some worked manual labor jobs or remained fishermen and trappers.
These Cajuns continued utilizing their language and native culture. Thanks to these people, we still have some French spoken in Louisiana today, and they preserved traditions in music, cuisine, and customs. In a sense, they have defined Louisiana. How interesting and ironic that two cultures years and an ocean apart, the English peasants and poorer Cajuns were responsible for the preservation of a language and a culture. Unfortunately, these propagators paid a heavy price—many years of continued poverty and marginal existence.
Techniques A huge advantage in language study today is that there are so many options in learning materials and techniques. Here are some of the many learning choices available today: Do not overlook classes as many learners achieve more in a group situation. There are many free, online courses available, as well as correspondence courses. Foreign study courses in the country that speaks the language you want to learn. This is very effective, but rather expensive. You can download dictionaries of your language choice to your computer, tablet and cell phone.
Tons of free apps are available to learn vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar as well as translations. Load them to your cell phone. Ladda ned. Spara som favorit. Skickas inom vardagar. With each generation and with each passing day, we grow closer to losing a key part of our nations unique heritagethe Cajun French language. Unless a concerted effort is made to preserve the language, this rich and vibrant culture will soon be relegated to the back pages of history.
Cajun Vocabulation is one such labor of loveone mans attempt to preserve the unique heritage of his South Louisiana home. Cajun Vocabulation is a dictionary and pronunciation guide for one of the major dialects of Cajun French. Author Gordon J.
Voisin interviewed more than one hundred native speakers in order to create this unique cultural artifact. He not only presents the basics of the language; he does so without sacrificing any of the zest and humor for which Cajuns are famous.