Cajun French: Names

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Is everyone wearing green? I’m not, but I have grass stains on my shoes and that so counts.

Before I get to today’s lesson, I’d like to first let you know that I’ll be over at Evelyn Byrne’s blog for a giveaway. I hope you’ll stop by!

Now for the lesson. It should come as no surprise after the previous lessons, that things in the Cajun French language are not pronounced the way they’re spelled. This includes names. Sure, there are some that are exactly the way they seem, but for the most part, people who aren’t from here will mispronounce our names in so many different ways!

Let’s start with last names ending in -et. In French, these two letters generally mean the word ends in a long “a” sound, like “day”. My last name, Avet, is pronounced “ah-vay”. There are lots of other names with this pronunciation, like Duet (it isn’t duet as in two people singing together), it’s “due-ay”, another is Ledet which is “la-day”. However, there are some names that have stress on a different part of the name. Lirette, for example is pronounced “lee-ret” with the stress on the first syllable. Rivet, or Rivette, is another name with this pronunciation “ree-vet”.

Next would be the -eaux, -aux names. These letters together make a long “o” sound. Boudreaux is “boo-dro”, Thibodaux is “tib-a-do”, Robichaux is “robe-e-sho”.

Then there are the names that are pronounced differently depending on what parish you’re in. Belanger in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes is pronounced “bel-anjay” but in St. Mary Parish, it’s pronounced “bell-anjer”. Authement in Terrebonne Parish is pronounced “oh-dee-mon”, but in Lafourche Parish is “authe-mon”. This can cause friction between people who have these last names when they go to a parish that pronounces it differently.

So if you happen to be hanging around down here and want to go to Boudreaux’s Seafood Restaurant, don’t pronounce it “bo-drox”. If you’re going to Thibodaux, don’t pronounce it “thigh-ba-dux”.

Do people have a hard time pronouncing your last name?

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Cajun French: Names

  1. LMBO at “thigh-ba-dux”

    Hahahahaha!! I’m not the best with pronunciations by a long shot, but even I knew the proper way to pronounce Thibodaux. Now, I can’t always spell it, but I can say it 🙂

    Thanks for the lesson, I’ve been prancing your last name as “Ah-vet”. You can tell I’m from the Mid-South, huh? 🙂

  2. Oh my word yes. My maiden name was Mathieu (yep, French), pronounced Matthew. My married name is Boeyink (dutch) pronounced Boo-ink. NO, not BOINK…..LOL.

    I’ll stick to my pen name. Lynn Rush. Must easier. 🙂

  3. My real last name is not hard to pronouce but people always want to put a ‘D’ in it. Drives me nuts. It’s Chancellor not Chandler. Weird.

    I love all these pronunciation guides you give us. thanks for teaching us every week.

  4. Cherie

    Well, first off live this blog. My maiden name was Thibodeaux and I married a Thibodeau (without the X) in of all places Las Vegas Nevada. At least I did not have to change the initials on the towels. I have people kill my name while I look blankly into their faces waiting for them to ask for help. Love the telephone marketing people..If you can not pronounce the name that person does not live here. This is a blast being from Baton Rouge Louisiana the west coast folks have it hard. Had a customer mad as hell because they kept call him Mr. Herbert when he was :hey-bear…I answered correctly to his name and he was much happier and his problem seemed so small after that.

  5. I know what you meeen,teachers always mispronounced my name Catoire,and its pronounced Cat-wa

  6. Where can I find previous lessons ? Isthe letter d in Abelard pronounced or do you say Abelar ?

    • I’ve never seen that name before, but going off of what I now of the language, I’d say you leave the D off.

      • This a fairly common name in the area around Breau Bridge, New Iberia, etc. I lived in Jefferson Parish a number of years, and that was my instinct. Saw the name often, but never heard it pronounced. Thanks

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