Local Wisdom

Local Wisdom

Cajun Words & Phrases

Before you begin your adventure in Louisiana's Cajun Bayou you may want to practice a few key phrases to have on hand.

  • Allons (a-low-n) - let's go
  • Avoir faim (a-vwah-fah-n) - to be hungry
  • Be'be (beh-bay) - baby
  • bon (boh-n) - good
  • bon ami (bon a-mee) - good friend
  • boucherie (boo-cher-ee) - a social event in whcih you butcher a hog with very little waste; Cajuns would make boudin, hog's head cheese and cracklins in addition to the other cuts of meat
  • ca c'est bon (sa-say-bohn) - it's so good
  • ca va bien (sa-va-bee-ehn) -  I'm well; okay
  • café au lait (ka-fay-o-lay) - even quantities of fresh brewed coffee and warm milk
  • Cajun - (kay-jun) - slang word for Acadian first pronounced by the Native Americans
  • Catahoula (kat-uh-hoo-luh) - Choctaw Indian word meaning "beloved lake" also a breed of dog indigenous to South Louisiana. This is the state dog.
  • Fais-do-do (fay-do-do) - literally to "make sleep," refers to a street dance where families would attend; there would be a back room in which to put the babies to sleep while the adults would enjoy the festivities
  • Feu-follet (fee-fo-lay) - evil spirits
  • filé (fee-lay) - a powder made from dried sassafras leaves, sprinkled on gumbo after it is removed from the heat. It is a thickening agent first made by the Choctaw Indians
  • joie de vivre (jhwah-de-veev-ruh) - joy of life
  • lagniappe (lan-yap) - a little something extra
  • laissez les bon temps rouler (lay-zay-lay-bohn-tohn-roo-lay) - let the good times roll
  • Zydeco (zy-deh-co) - Cajun music with African influences

 

The Difference Between Cajun and Creole


There is debate about the exact meaning of Cajun and Creole, but the basic differences are noted below:
The word Cajun is a derivative of the word Acadian, and Cajuns are usually described as descendants of the French-speaking Acadians who settled in Louisiana after being deported from Nova Scotia. Creoles were originally descendants of Spanish and French settlers in the New World, but the term came to describe things of the new colony as well. Creole comes from the Spanish criollo, a child born in the colony. 

The food types differ as well, Cajun food developed as more of a country fare from the Acadians settling along the swamps and bayous along the Louisiana coast known as Acadiana than the food that the Creoles developed in the New Orleans area, with more African and Italian influences such as okra-infused gumbo and a tomato-based jambalaya. 

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