It’s Wednesday. Is it sad that it’s taken me two full days before I finally feel somewhat alert? At this rate, it’ll be Saturday before I’m running at top speed again and then I’ll have to go through this whole mess all over! But enough complaining.
Earlier in my writing “career”, I wanted to share a bit of my culture with my readers. Every week I’d introduce a new Cajun French word or phrase and explain it’s usage. I’m not sure if anyone actually read them, so I’m going to blog them instead. Yes, yes, you’re probably sick to death of me bragging about my heritage, but I’m proud to be a south Louisianan, what can I say?
First off, let me explain what a Cajun actually is. Cajuns are descended from the Acadians who were forced out of Acadia and found a new home in south Louisiana. They were French speakers and they’re very proud of their heritage. So proud that they will seek out “Cajun” restaurants in other states and have a hissy when the food isn’t cooked the way it is here. This brings me to my next point: not every person in south Louisiana is Cajun. I’m actually not Cajun. My family came directly from France in the 18th century. I’m almost positive they were convicts, but we’ll leave that for another post.
Cajun French is not the same French spoken in Canada or France, but if one of those ingenious Cajuns ever managed to build a time machine and go back to 18th century France, they would be understood. Funny, huh? The thing is, the language didn’t develop or change very much over the last 300 years because of isolation. Most of the Acadians moved to south-central Louisiana to what is commonly referred to as Cajun Country, or Acadiana. Yes, yes, words have been modified because of technology changes, but it hasn’t changed that much.
Anyway, back to the real lesson. Mais. Mais is a broad word. It means “but” and it’s used. A lot. For instance:
“Mais, did you see the UPS guy?”
“Mais, I ain’t scared, me, no.”
“Do you want a coke?” (Coke isn’t always Coca-Cola, it’s any carbonated soft drink).
For the longest time I thought everyone was using “mais” like we do when “meh” began appearing all over the place. People use it to express disgust, anger, and indifference. Cajuns use “mais” the same way, but we also use it to open conversation.
Mais, there you go. I hope you enjoyed your first lesson in Cajun culture. I hope I can remember to do this weekly, but there’s no telling what other weird ideas I’ll get to blog about.