Episode 16: Barry Ancelet, part 2, on Louisiana French identity and literacy

This week we continue our conversation on Louisiana French with Dr. Barry Ancelet, noted folklorist and expert in Cajun culture. We talk about the differences between Louisiana French and Modern Standard French, how they developed independently, and the historical efforts to preserve Louisiana French by writing it and teaching it.

PHOTO CREDIT: Philip Gould


  • is Louisiana French a “bad” way of speaking “good” French?
  • Louisiana French traces back to a specific area in France from a specific time, before Modern French was standardized
  • reduction of vocabulary after Rabelais
  • where Louisiana fits between François Rabelais and Pierre de Ronsard
  • how Louisiana French developed independently of the French in France
  • the variety of language “on the edges”
  • the present progressive with aller
  • Louisiana French maintains its history while also modernizing
  • various vocabulary words in Louisiana French and how they developed
  • timing of the Acadian arrival and the development of the term Cajun
  • speech varieties across Louisiana
  • Louisiana French vs Louisiana Creole
  • the value of language transcription
  • Joe Falcon and “Allons à Lafayette”
  • are there any monolingual French speakers left in Louisiana?
  • the growth of music in the development of Cajun culture
  • the 1955 Bicentennial, and why celebrate such a horrific event?
  • The Faulk affair and the establishment of CODOFIL
  • the beginnings of a literary movement in the 1970s
  • the development of a writing system for Louisiana French, strategies and mistakes made
  • James Donald Faulk’s Cajun French I textbook


  • “J’aime ta jupe, mais j’aime pas la way ça hang.” – I like your skirt, but I don’t like the way it hangs.
  • “ouais, tu vois, la nouvelle année on fait des choux et des blackeyes” – Yeah, you see, on New Year’s we make cabbage and black-eyed peas.”


  • Ancelet, Barry Jean. 2019. “Défis et Enjeux Dans l’écriture d’une Grammaire d’une Variété de Français Non Standard : Le Cas Du Français Louisianais.” In Colloque : Écrire Une Grammaire Du Français Standard et Variétés; Langue Maternelle et FLE. Paris.
  • Dubois, Sylvie, Emilie Gagnet Leumas, and Malcolm Richardson. 2018. Speaking French in Louisiana 1720-1955: Linguistic Practices of the Catholic Church. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.
  • an amazing video about DL Menard, La porte d’en arrière (The Back Door), and Cajun music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCfdYPDpPKk
  • Faulk, James Donald. 1977. Cajun French I. Crowley, LA: Cajun Press.
  • Ancelet, Barry Jean. 1988. “A Perspective on Teaching the ‘Problem Language’ in Louisiana.” The French Review 61 (3): 345–56.

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