5 Words Cajuns Can’t Say Right
Acadiana is a unique area. At its heart lies the cosmopolitan city of Lafayette with its big buildings and high society, but surrounding Lafayette on all sides are wide open spaces. Cities like Abbeville, Breaux Bridge, Carencro, and Crowley. It’s cities like New Iberia, Ville Platte, and Rayne that add flair to Lafayette’s otherwise big city life.
In response to this melding of cultures, residents of Acadiana have over the years become a bit bilingual. There is the professional language spoken while doing business in the city, and then there is that other voice. You know, the one that comes out every time you’re two beers deep, or two miles outside Lafayette city limits.
The following is a list of words for which the professional voice can’t handle and that other voice takes over. Words that ruin your Cajun disguise and elicit looks from strangers. These are the words that Cajuns just can’t say right.
1. Days of the Week
At the end of each day of the week is the word “day”. Cajuns have no problem with the word day. They can talk about their birthday, Christmas day, opening day, and it’s no problem. But for some reason when the other sounds that make up the days of the week are brought in, something goes wrong.
If you’ve ever gone to “Sundee” mass with your mom or watched “Mondee” Night Football with your dad then you know what I’m talking about.
You got your “Mondee” “Tuesdee” “Fridee” “Saturdee” and “Sundee”.
I’m sure you noticed I’ve left out Wednesday and Thursday. That’s because these words are a Cajun’s kryptonite. They are our greatest weakness.
You might get away with Mondee and Tuesdee, but when you start saying Wansdee and Tursdee it’s game over. The jig is up. Might as well put on overalls and start yelling “Choot’um” at alligators.
Few sports are as huge in the Acadiana area as baseball. Numerous parks across Acadiana are filled nearly every day with young little leaguers learning the game. Despite not having a professional team in the state, you’d be hard pressed to walk into a room and not find a major league baseball fan. The sport is our passion and a large part of our culture. Unfortunately, this creates yet another language barrier between Cajuns and the rest of the world.
In most places, when a baseball player fails to make a routine play he is awarded an error. This is in most places, not Acadiana. Here, you’d get an “errah”. An errah is exactly like an error in every way except pronunciation.
While in the history of the culture many Cajuns have been to stores, you will never find a Cajun going to a store. These Cajuns are all gone, and I mean that quite literally. In Acadiana, the second “g” in “going” is so silent, we hardly ever even write it any more.
“Yall need something, I’m goin to the store”.
“I think we out of butter.”
“No, I got some Tuesdee”.
4. Sentences Ending With “That”
If I had to pick one single word that is the most used in all of Cajun culture it would have to be “that”. We love “that”. We love it so much we often use it at both the beginning and ending of sentences.
“That’s some good stuff, that”
And while we enjoy saying “that” as much as we can, when it’s placed at the end of a sentence something magical happens. “That” alone changes the pronunciation of the entire sentence. Here’s an exercise:
Say aloud, “You’re right about him”.
Probably sounded normal, right? Now let’s change it up…
Say, “You’re right about that”.
Boom. What I told you?
That word has some of them voodoo powers like that.
5. New Orleans
The word New Orleans is the great equalizer. Everyone in the country pronounces it differently and a trained Cajun ear can tell where you’re from just by hearing you say the word “New Orleans”.
Here’s the breakdown.
Nahlans = Old school, now mostly used by street musicians
Norlins = Most NOLA citizens today
Nu-awlins = West Bank pronunciation
Norlans = Acadiana pronunciation
Nu-Orlands = North Louisiana
New Orlins = Most of the country
New Orleeeens = Tourists
New Or-lee-ands = Al Michaels
Those are five of the words Cajuns can’t say right but there are many others. Did you like the list? Can you think of any more? Let us know in the comment section and be sure to click the “Like” button to share some Cajun culture with your friends!