Cajun Phrase: Get Down

I realized this morning that I haven’t done a Cajun French phrase in a while, so I hope to entertain you all with one of our little “jewels”.

Get down.

When most people in the rest of the country say this, people immediately think they mean “dance”, “get down with your bad self!” that kind of thing. Of course, here in south Louisiana, this means something completely different.

Now, let me stress when I say south Louisiana, I don’t mean New Orleans. When it comes to regional dialect, New Orleans is an island. South Louisiana means the bayou country, Cajun country. The communities west of New Orleans.

From Fourchon (the end of the world!) to Lafayette, the bayous are peppered with different version of Cajun French and bad English. What you say in one parish isn’t the same in another. Pronunciations aren’t the same either. It’s weird, yes, but that’s how we tell who’s from Lafourche Parish, who’s from Terrebonne Parish, who’s from St. Mary Parish, and who’s from Vermillion Parish. It’s tiny things, but we can usually tell if you’re from our parish or not depending on how you say things.

Anyway, I was thinking about the phrase “get down” this morning as I worked out. Yes, Shaun T makes me think of strange Cajun French phrases! In our area (our being Cajun country), “get down” is something you say to a person visiting.

Let me explain. Say you’re visiting someone, just passing through and you’re still in your car. I don’t know if other people spend a lot of time in each others’ drive ways, but here, someone might stop to drop something off without getting out of their car. If you did this at my home, I would ask you, “Do you want to get down?”

Get down means do you want to get out of your car for a visit. I’m not sure where the phrase originated, but I suspect it could be anything from the days when people rode horses, to some obscure French phrase. I have no clue.

I’ll never forget one of my co-workers years ago. She was from Kenner which is sort of part of New Orleans. She moved to my hometown for work purposes. The neighborhood she lived in was very upscale, so it isn’t like she moved down the bayou or anything (and that’s a phrase for another day). She said the first time her neighbor asked if she wanted to “get down”, she was like “You want me to dance?” She was baffled and amused.

I thought she would’ve known what it meant since she was from down here…sort of, but apparently they don’t use this phrase in the Big Easy. Interesting.

So if any of you are planning a visit in the fair south of I-10 Louisiana and someone asks you if you want to “get down”, they’re not asking you if you want to dance. They’re asking if you want to get out of your car and visit with them.

13 Comments

Filed under humor

13 responses to “Cajun Phrase: Get Down

  1. Oh wow. I would have been like your work friend, “Huh? Dance?” Because I SOOO don’t dance. I probably would have had a minor panic attack. LOL.

    Thanks for this. Very interesting!

    • Glad you found it interesting, Lynn. I know we have strange phrases here and I love sharing them with others. Especially if someone plans to visit the smaller areas in south Louisiana

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Cajun Phrase: Get Down « Unearthly Musings -- Topsy.com

  3. OMG. My favorite show last season was Swamp people and, I know you’re all going to look at me like, “What?”. But I loved the show for exactly this reason: The men had such a fun way of speaking, that I wanted to absorb every moment of their dialect and they helped me create a secondary character that I love so much, she’s getting her own book. The phrasing in LA is like nothing I’ve ever heard before, but it flows and is soothing to the ear. I’d lay on the couch while this show was on, with my eyes closed and just listen to the rugged men speak. My hubby thought I was insane—but that’s another story. Great post!!!

    • LOL, it’s even better when they’re speaking Cajun French. When I was little, my grandfather would take me to his sister’s house and I’d play while listening to them and another sister talk for hours in French. I don’t know more than a few phrases, but it was very soothing. To this day when I hear people speaking Cajun French, I remember my grandfather and those happy times.

  4. I love hearing about other cultures and phrases. Thanks for this. Okay, I have a stupid question. Wasn’t True Blood set in the Bayou? If it was, why are they always outside. I’d think the mosquitoes would be awful. When I lived near Alligator Alley in FL I’d never go outside after late afternoon. I know, I’m silly, but it REALLY bothered me in the show. 🙂

    • I never read the Harris books, or watched the show, but yeah, it’s supposed to be in south Louisiana. Mosquitoes are BEASTS here in the summer time. You don’t want to go outside between dusk and about midnight. Those suckers’ll pick you up and carry you away!

  5. And I thought “get down” meant having sex. Boy! How embarrassing would that be?

  6. KAK

    Bwahahahaha.

    I totally didn’t think “Get Down” had anything in common with “Care for a spot of tea?” I dare say I would’a erred right along with Stacy.

    • LOL, that’s south Louisiana for you 😉 And now aren’t you glad you know? At least now you don’t have to slap someone’s face for asking you if you want to get down, LOL

  7. I would’ve started dancing and swingin’ my arms! come on Danica! Get down girl!

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