An Introduction to Louisiana French

The French colonization of Louisiana in the 17th century left behind a rich cultural inheritance which is both fascinating and unique. To this day, French influence can be seen in everything from Louisiana’s tasty cuisine, to its vibrant music, and yes, even in the language! It’s remarkable how Louisiana French (sometimes referred to as Creole French) has survived, evolved, and taken on surprising characteristics which set it apart from its language of origin. Whether you plan on visiting Louisiana for business or pleasure, understanding these characteristics and knowing key phrases can set you apart from your run-of-the-mill traveler. So read on for a quick and fun introduction to Louisiana French before heading down south!

1. “Faire chaudière ensemble.”

The literal translation of this cool phrase is: “To make a boiler together,” but of course it bears another much more interesting meaning in Louisiana French. This saying is used to indicate someone is getting married. Why? Well, a chaudière is a type of iron pot used extensively in Louisiana cooking. It also happens to be a symbol of home life and, well, marriage!

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2. “Vin àvint batailles au gallon.

France may be the king when it comes to wine, but Louisianans don’t fall too far behind when it comes to love for their vin, and you can see it in the language. This phrase translates loosely as: “Wine in twenty battles to the gallon.” When you say this, you are indicating that the wine you are drinking is really strong!

3. “Comment ça plume?”

This delightful phrase, which translates as “How’s it plucking?” can be used in lieu of the standard: “How are you?” (“Comment ça va?” in French). When you understand that in rural old Louisiana culture it was joked that easy chicken plucking made for easy living, this saying will make a lot more sense.

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4. “Dormir comme un caïman.”

When you Google the words : “Sleep like a…” the first two options which pop up are probably “baby” and “log”. These words may ring true for the rest of the USA, but considering Louisiana is gator country, they like to do things a little differently. In this state you don’t “sleep like a baby,” you “sleep like a caiman (or alligator).”

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5. “Baille a couru sa course.”

This is a key phrase to know because it happens to be one of the most-used in Louisiana French. Its meaning? Well, it translates to something like: “The bay has run its course.” You’ll want to save this for situations where there is nothing you can do about the outcome. Think of it as your go-to sentence of acceptance and resignation.

Without a doubt, Louisiana French bears many nuances and mannerisms which are unique to this state’s particularly colorful history and culture. However, knowing some key phrases may impress a few acquaintances, but it won’t get you far if you really want to delve deep into the Louisiana way of life. Luckily, excellent language classes and online placement tests are easily available to help you take your French to the next level. Be sure to sign up so that you have a great foundation to work with, and then use all your language skills to blend in with the locals and better understand Louisiana’s fascinating culture!

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