Tag Archives: cajun french

A New Festival

Before I get to today’s very short and sweet post, I’m over at Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy talking about how I come up with my characters. Stop by if you’re interested!

We like our festivals down here in south Louisiana. We almost have one for every type of food and now we’ll have one for Halloween.

I’m actually kind of proud of Houma for putting this on. I think it could be a lot of fun and draw some tourists to the area to learn more about the Cajun heritage and our “beliefs”. What are y’all doing October 26th? ūüôā

http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20120910/ARTICLES/120919989?tc=cr

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Fact and Fiction

So last week was the premier of Cajun Justice. I’m sure most of Terrebonne Parish watched at least the first episode because we wanted to see how we were portrayed. I had to give myself a week to gather information from other people and to compose my own thoughts.

First of all, a lot of people I’ve talked to were disappointed. I’ve heard everything from “Everyone is going to think we don’t have teeth down here!” to “Do they have to find the worst people to show?” Which is kind of normal, I think. Any time there’s a hurricane or some other disaster, the media gravitates toward the people who don’t represent the area as a whole. So yeah, that was disappointing.

Secondly, the voodoo thing. I know I’ve mentioned the gris-gris before, but it isn’t all that common (as far as I know). I’ve never met anyone associated with the practice, or witnessed a ritual anywhere but on television. However, superstition is a big part of the culture here. That part is true, or it was in past generations. Today, I wouldn’t say there’s as much superstition as there used to be unless it was passed down.

Next is the heat. Okay, they definitely got that right. I’ve been moaning about the heat since the end of March.

Also, while we do have a very healthy alligator population, they’re not in everyone’s yard. Okay, that isn’t entirely true. Where you live in the parish would dictate how often you would see an alligator. The closer you are to the bayous and canals, the more alligators you’ll see. Of course, saying that, the entire area is cut with bayous, canals, and drainage ditches. They may have exaggerated that part a bit, but it does hold a grain of truth.

All in all, most people I talked to found the show silly. I was able to laugh about it because I had my godson sending me text messages throughout the two-show premier, especially when the deputies found the paranormal investigators. Here’s how our conversation went:

Nephew: Ghosts!
Me: Cajun ghosts at that!
Nephew: Which is even worse because you can’t understand what they’re saying.

So did you watch Cajun Justice? What did you think about it? I’m going to continue watching if only for the entertainment value and the heckling I can do with my nephew.

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Cajun French: Gourmand

This week I have a word I picked up from my sister-in-law. I’m actually wondering if they’re going to use it on Swamp People since those guys seem to want to be like me. You know, because they used tete dur way after I posted about it. And I’m totally joking, y’all. These are words you may hear frequently down here.

So this week’s word is gourmand (yes you may have seen this word before, but the pronunciation is¬†little different) which is prounounced “goo-mon” (soft n) with that goo drawn out a little. Gourmand can be used as noun or an adjective.

As a noun, it means a “greedy eater”. If you think about it, it kind of makes sense. We’ve all heard the word “gourmond” used when we talk about someone who takes pleasure in their food. The only difference I can think of is the pronunciation. I’ve always heard the Americanized gourmond as pronounced “gore-mond” or something like that.

When gourmond is used as an adjective, it means gluttonous.

So tell me, are any of you gourmond?

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Cajun French: Do-Do

It’s been a while since I did a Cajun French post, but I’ve been gathering information again so hopefully there will be more.

Today’s phrase is do-do (pronounced doe-doe). It means “sleep-sleep”. Remember what I said about the Cajun French/English language and intensifiers? Well, this sort of falls into the same category. I imagine anything could be an intensifier¬†depending on how it’s used. A Cajun comedian who goes by the name of Poo-Poo Broussard is a little infamous for his phrase “My lips are chapped, chapped”. If you’re in the need for a little laughter, you should check him out.

Do-do though, is short for dormir which means sleep. Parents would tell their children, “Make do-do” or “go to sleep”.

You’ve probably also heard this word used in the phrase fais do-do which isn’t the same thing really. A fais do-do is a party, or like an informal jam session in today’s terms. People, probably extended family, would gather around, play music, dance, and eat. My own personal belief is that it was called a fais do-do because it was what adults would do while their children were sleeping.

There’s also a song called “Fais Do-do”which is a lullaby. I don’t know the words except for a few, but it’s one my mom used to sing to us when we were young. When holding babies now, it’s almost second nature to hum the “Fais Do-do” song to them.

I hope this post didn’t make y’all go do-do cause that would just be embarrassing.

Yay for the upcoming weekend! I have a book release Monday and good news on the way so I’m definitely not going to be making the do-do easily.

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Cajun Music vs. Zydeco

I got the idea for this post from a discussion on Four Foxes One Hound, the group blog I’m part of and thought it would be a fun way to show the differences between Cajun music and Zydeco.

According to a site I found, Cajun music comes from the Acadians who were forced to leave Canada. It borrows some from Creoles of African descent, country and western, and in some cases, rhythm and blues. It’s a mishmash of genres. From what I gather (since I don’t speak Cajun French), most of the songs center around ill-fated love, death, and loneliness.

This Cajun French song is called”Jolie Blon”, or pretty blonde.

Zydeco is not Cajun music in origin. It was created by the Creoles of African descent who borrowed elements of Cajun music. They kind of copied off each other, pretty much which is kind of funny and probably why people get the two confused.

Zydeco became more popular after WWII and was heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and jazz. It’s¬†considered party music now, but like most songs in the R&B genre, the songs were about hardship.

The song I’ll play for the Zydeco side is by Buckwheat Zydeco called “Tee Nah Nah”.

The major difference I find between these two similar genres is the instrumentation. Zydeco uses the accordion and washboard, while Cajun music relies heavily on the accordion, fiddle, bass, and drums.

What do you think? Can you tell the difference? Which one do you prefer? I’m partial to Cajun music, myself. It’s the perfect music to listen to when I’m going fishing or sitting on my porch.

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Cajun French: Bon Mange

A couple of years ago I posted something about a little town called Gheens. Well, it isn’t really a town. It’s a one-road, dead-end community. There used to be a grocery store, but I think that’s closed now. There was a bar and I don’t think that closed. There’s also a community center.

I had no idea this area existed until I went to college and met one of my good friends who was from Gheens. Talk about opening a whole new world. They have their own parade which is far more fun than any of the parades I used to go to in a bigger town. There are small neighborhoods carved into the area, but for the most part, it’s wide open land. My friend, who’s my age, didn’t have cable until he was nearly fifteen years old. That should tell you how out-of-the-way this community is.

But they don’t let that stop them from doing their own things. Throughout the year nearly every town and community in south Louisiana has a festival. In Breaux¬†Bridge, which is near Lafayette, they have the Crawfish Festival. Chackbay¬†has the Gumbo Festival. There’s a festival for nearly everything and the people of Gheens aren’t about to be left out. No, they have their own festival called the Bon Mange Festival.

Bon (pronounced bawn¬†– soft n) Mange¬†(mahnge) means “good eats”. The festival is held every year to raise money for the upkeep of the community center. I haven’t been to the festival. The one time I was supposed to go, I had a little too much alcohol and fell asleep instead. *cough*

The festivals held throughout the year in south Louisiana are filled with lots and lots of good food from gumbos and jambalayas¬†to fairground burgers to pralines and funnel cakes to more interesting things like alligator on a stick. There are carnival games and rides and lots of music, mostly of the Cajun French, Zydeco, or Country variety. They’re a lot of fun.

Then of course, there’s a court. Kings and Queens are announced. My friend used to find it hilarious that the¬†queen of the Gheens festival was called the Bon Mange Queen…in other words, she’s the “good eats” queen. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what he meant *snickers*

So if you ever make plans to come to south Louisiana, look for local fairs. Sure, there’s Jazz Fest and Voodoo Fest in New Orleans, but you’ll find a lot more Cajun flavor away from the big cities.

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Cajun French: Nonc

It’s time for another Cajun French lesson.

Growing up, I only had one aunt I referred to as Tante. I had no idea what it meant which is why I ended up calling the poor lady Aunt Tante Dette. I thought tante was part of her name. It was only when I was older that I realized I was calling her Aunt Aunt Odette. *snort* Thanks, Mom!

So I’m sure I’ve mentioned tante means aunt and is pronounced “tawnt”, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned nonc¬†which means uncle. Nonc is pronounced “nawnk”. I never had an uncle I called nonc, but when my brother married his wife, I picked one up. Her dad.

No, I don’t pretend he’s my uncle or anything, but when trying to get attention, it’s a lot easier to shout nonc than Mr. John. And it works, too. We were getting the hall ready for the reception and I needed to ask him something. I shouted his name a couple of times and one of his nephews said “call him nonc“. I did and sure enough he turned around.

So that’s your lesson for today. Nonc and tante for your Cajun characters’ relatives.

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Cajun French: Chadron

Greetings, folks. I hope everyone’s having a great week.

It’s time for another Cajun French lesson. Today’s word is chadron¬†pronounced sha-dron (soft n). A chadron is a thistle. I wasn’t aware they were considered a treat until I spoke with a co-worker who told me about a chadron soup (or something like that). It didn’t sound very appetizing to me. Plus I could just imagine my mother’s reaction if I brought home a bunch of thistles to put in the pot.

I’m not talking about cultivated thistles or anything. Thistles growing wild in fields and along the road are what many people cut and bring home. Some eat it as a snack. I recently read an article where one man said he remembers going hunting with his grandfather who would cut thistles on their way back home as a snack to tide them over until they were home. Someone else mentioned that when they road the bus, they would watch the fields picking out which chadron they planned to cut and eat.

From what I understand thistles, or chadron, taste like celery. The prime time to pick them is March and April as the stalks are more tender. When the chadron are purple, they’re left alone since they’re much tougher. I also understand there’s an art to cutting them without being stuck by the pickers. Alas, I’ve never gone chadron picking so I can’t tell you the way to do it from personal experience.

However, when I’m driving around and I pass a field filled with chadron, I always wonder if they really do taste like celery, but I’m not brave enough to go traipsing into a field to find out.

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Cajun French: Dris-Guile

It’s time for another lesson in Cajun French. We’re all learning together today because I’d never heard of today’s word until my sister-in-law’s mother mentioned it.

Dris-guile¬†(I’m not sure if it’s spelled correctly) is pronounced “dre” (gutteral¬†dr, long e) “guy”. It means knick-knack. It’s very familiar to a chu-chut, or a thingamabob, or doo-hicky.

You’d use it like this:

Hand me that dris-guile.

Like I said, I’d never heard this of this word until recently. I remember when I’d visit my great-aunt with my grandfather they’d speak in French. The only way you knew they were talking about you was when they looked your way, or pointed. It was frustrating in the extreme, especially when I wanted to learn Cajun French. The same thing happened with my Korean aunt. I could tell when she was swearing because she’d make this hacking sound, but I had no idea what she was saying. Again, frustrating because if there’s one thing I want to learn it’s the bad words in other languages, LOL

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to dust the dris-guile cluttering up my workspace.
 

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Cajun French: Chenes/Chien

Time for another lesson in Cajun French. Today’s lesson was actually inspired by a disagreement I got into with a co-worker. We were talking about fishing and where we go. After confirming we fish in the same area, Pointe-aux-Chenes, we had a discussion about the meaning of Pointe-aux-Chenes. My co-worker speaks Spanish and insisted it meant “nose of the dog”. I disagreed. I knew it meant “point of the oak”.

He wouldn’t believe me. Finally, I called one of my Cajun connections to settle the dispute. He agreed with me. I love being right. I can see why my Spanish-speaking friend would get the two confused.

Chene¬† pronounced “shan” (soft n) means oak. Chien¬†pronounced “she-in” (long e, soft n) means dog. If you’re listening to someone speaking who mispronounces either one of these words, it would be easy to think they were talking about a dog instead of an oak tree. Naturally, Pointe pronounced “pon” (soft n) means point.

This is a chene:

This is a chien:

This is a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog which is the state dog.

 

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