Mais! Last week, I wrote a little post about some of the ways we talk in South Louisiana. The response was ridiculous. And by ridiculous I mean amazing. That post was passed around like a bottle of Strawberry Hill in a minivan full of high-school girls going to an Opelousas bonfire in 1990. (I need to work on that analogy). The craziest thing is that with all the page views and over 250 comments, everyone — with one exception — was NICE. That doesn’t happen on the internet very much.
Thank yall for all the comments and for being so damn polite.
But I’m not writing a follow-up post in a shameless attempt for more blog traffic. I’m writing a follow-up post because I’m embarrassed by how much I missed — and at least one thing I got wrong.
The most obvious thing I got wrong was insinuating that Tres/Tray, a common-enough name for the third male child carrying on a name — as in Bob Sr., Bob Jr. (aka Tee Bob) and Bob the III (aka Tray) — was somehow French. It’s Spanish. I’m obviously bad at numbers and/or languages.
Just to be clear, I’m not a linguist, not pretending to be a linguist and don’t want to get bogged down in actual etymology. I lost five readers just typing that sentence. I’m well aware that much of the English in South Louisiana is heavily influenced by French language structure and vocabulary, as well as Spanish and plain old Southern dialect.
I didn’t set out to create an exhaustive list of Cajun French or Cajunisms. I was initially trying to get at things we say in English that other English-speaking folks can’t understand.
After all, I figured, there are perfectly fine dictionaries of Cajun French words (like this one from LSU) and even pretty exhaustive dictionaries of Cajun French slang and phrases. Something like Fais do do I would not consider for the list because it’s got a couple of very clear meanings (to go to sleep; or a dance or party that lasts until it’s time to go to sleep) and it’s not something I used in every day language. Do-do on the other hand is something we did use on a daily basis growing up. As in: “It’s time for your nap. Go do-do.” Or: “It’s late. Time to do-do.” (That’s a long o sound, by the way.)
But dictionaries are boring, yall.
And, well, try to find do-do in that LSU dictionary. Go on. Try. We’re at a generational point at which a majority of Cajun people don’t deal with a lot of French — and even those who do, deal with it as a spoken language. So when they’re on Facebook trying to write these words, they’re spelling them phonetically in English. (Except for Geaux, of course.) Which is fine. Unless you’re trying to find a word in a dictionary.
“Fwa” is an excellent example. Back in the day, when I was working to Stage, a coworker from Ville Platte called in. “Mais, Kennet,” he said. “I can’t come to work today. I got the fwa bad, bad.” I knew exactly what he was saying. He had diarrhea. But try finding the word “fwa.” You can’t. I know enough French to figure it’s spelled something like foire, but that’s turns out to be the French word for bazaar or fair. How the hell Cajuns got from fair to diarrhea, I don’t know. But they did. And even knowing the spelling, that word doesn’t appear in some of the online dictionaries. Probably because diarrhea is something they’d rather not talk about.
Yeah, so anyway. I’m still not going to come up with anywhere near an exhaustive list. And I’m going to try not to include things like “fixing to” or “over yonder,” which are regular old Southernisms. Rather, this list will include my most glaring oversights from last time and even some words/phrases I’d never heard before but showed up so many times in comments, I thought I’d include them.
In no particular order:
Save: To put away. I caught the most lip for leaving this one out as an alternate definition for “put up.” As in:
“Go put up the dishes.”
“Mais, I already saved them.”
I could have slapped myself for leaving this off since save is one I used and one that confuses non-natives.
“Can you save the dishes?”
“Save them from what? Are they drowning?”
Yeah, n0 (for emphasis): In this case, both words mean what they mean in English. They’re just added to make sure you know the person is being serious.
“I love the Saints, yeah. I’m serious.”
“I’m not putting up with that, no.”
Fast, fast (doubling for emphasis): This works with many adjectives and even adverbs. Why says faster when you can say “fast, fast” instead? (Thanks, Kelley A.!)
“Sun’s out today. It’s hot, hot.”
“Mais, Tee-Calvin rode that horse fast, fast, him.”
Mais, talk about: But of course; obviously; you haven’t heard/said the half of it. (Thanks, Linda M.!)
“You like them Saints?”
“Mais talk about.”
If: An emphatic yes. (We like to emphasize things a lot in South Louisiana.) This one I wasn’t familiar. (Thanks, Craig M.)
“You like crawfish?”
Kee-yawww/kee-yahhhh: Golly is the closest thing I can think of.
Poo-yi: Kee-yawww. (The yi rhymes with eye, by the way.)
Poo-yi-yi: Very poo-yi. (Thanks Gwen M. for that one!)
Make a pass: To stop by. In the rest of the country, “make a pass” might conjure up memories of 70s soap operas. “He made a pass at me!” Not in South Louisiana.
“You gonna make a pass to the house later?”
“I might. But first I gotta make a pass by the store.”
to: at. Not to get too confusing, but sometimes to can mean at.
“You gonna stay to Bootsies?”
“Nah. I’m gonna stay to Mawmaw’s house tonight.”
Couillon (coo-yon): A fool or an idiot. Often said with a hint of both exasperation and love.
Canaille: Mischievous or sneaky. It’s sort of a broad word and usually refers to children, but in an almost loving, approving way.
“I was late for work because, last night — when I told Tee-Boy to save my keys? — he put ’em up in my shoe.”
“That boy canaille, yeah!”
Pronounced kuh-ni (the ni rhymes with eye)
Tataille: A monster. The thing in my nightmares. I don’t know how I left this one off the last list, considering what a chicken I was as a child.
“Go do-do right now.”
“There’s a tataille under my bed!”
Or: “Red Eye is the name of the tataille that lives in the chimney.”
do-do: To sleep. Long o sound. I’m going to assume it’s a cute form of dormir since it’s most often used with children.
Hosepipe: a garden hose. I’d never heard this one before. Never. Not in my whole life. Don’t know if it’s a generational thing or geographical thing.
Padookie/badookie: A pony-tail holder. They only say this in New Iberia. Only reason I’d heard of it is because I’m engaged to a New Iberian. (And she says, she’d never heard the badookie pronunciation. All I know is I’m not getting in between two New Iberia people fighting over a word.)
Tenny shoe: A tennis shoe or sneaker.
Catch me dat: Give me that, hand me that. (Thanks, Lori B.)
“Kee-yahhh. I got a big one on. Catch me dat net!”
Rodier: To wander around (or drag the streets). Pronounced ro-dee-yay. This was another one I’d never heard of. (Thanks Dwayne P.)
“Where Mama at?”
“Aw, she out rodier-ing.”
fwa (foire): Diarrhea (cha cha cha!)
“Hoooo. I don’t know what I ate. But I got the fwa, bad, bad, yeah!”
Poo-doo: Trashy, nasty. Apparently this is used in Kaplan. (Thanks, Jade!)
“Girl, look what she’s wearing. That’s so poo-doo.”
“She more poo-doo than Snookie, her.”
choot-choot/chut-chut: A knick-knack, thingamajig or whatchamacallit.
gah-day-dawn: look at that! look here! (Not sure of the correct French spelling for that one).
Freezawns (frisson): goosebumps; the chills.
Honte: Kind of a mix of shame and shyness.
“He don’t want to come out. He honte.”
Okay, I’m getting tired here! I’m sure there are more. I know I’m forgetting some. But I’m on a plane and they’re going to shut off the wi-fi, yeah. But before I go, last but not least.
RICE AND GRAVY: This is not a bit of rice with some gravy on it. Rather it’s full meal consisting of a slow-cooked meat (round steak, pork) that produces a gravy or sauce and then is served over rice, usually with a side (or two of vegetables). It is actually not an easy dish to make right, but it’s one of the best things you’ll ever put in your face.
Thanks for reading. And comment away! What I’m interested in now are Cajun curse words and insults! (And any more of those town-specific phrases they don’t say anywhere except in your own town).
Oh, yeah. I have a new novel out. Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears is set in Brooklyn and Louisiana and has plenty of funny talking going on. You can buy it online or, especially in the South, at an independent book store near you! In fact, the book is part of a #coderead promotion conducted by the Southern Independent Booksellers Association.
Oh, and while I have you. I’m running with Team in Training again this year to raise money to fight leukemia and lymphoma. Donate if you can!
104 thoughts on “Even More Talkin’ Funny: Louisiana Style”
I always thought it was “Garde des dents” (which I guess means, “watch your teeth”)?
See also: http://prairiedesfemmes.blogspot.com/2013/09/evangeline-parish-slang.html
Love these posts, cher!
Where I’m from (around the corner from your future wifey), we say “RO-DAY” for Rodier. I’ve never heard it said any other way south of I-10. Don’t know what you Opelousas people did while running errands on Saturdays.
Another good post, Ken. Receiving your new book as a birthday gift….looking forward to the read!
Bet-mon-chu is a curse phrase meaning “Bite my A$$”
You had me at Strawberry Hill! Keep them coming, they are proving to be a great instruction manual for me to provide my husband for our trips home.
Also, did you ever hear French Toast called “Pain Pain Do”? I think the correct French would be “Pain Perdue” or “Lost Bread” but I’ve never heard that anywhere but in my house growing up. Just in case you ever do a food post!
It’s from “Regardez dedans” — “Look there” — that got shortened to ” ‘Ga dedans”.
Mais, I could go on and on about dem cajun curse words. Those were the first cajun terms I learned as a kid. My parents would speak French when they didn’t want us kids to know what they were saying. Of course we could tell by their tone if it was good or bad bad.
Feet Pyutanh- son of a bitch
Ton chur- your ass!
Embross (embrace) or beck (kiss) mon chur- kiss my ass!
Va la merde- go shit!
Sacray betaille- translation is sacred animal, but my Mawmaw would call us this when we were bad or did something bad.
After all these years of listening to my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. I’ve picked up the language and can understand them finally! My family is from the Church Point and Eunice areas.
I thought your “gah-day-dawn” came from “regardez donc,” telling someone to look emphatically.
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!
Brilliant! The only addition would have to be the shortest complete sentence in the Cajun/English language. . . “If”
Meaning: “I could not agree more with what you just said!”
“Mais Ken, dat Putin got a pare on him huh?”
I’ve picked up my neighbors use of “pass”. As in ” pass a rag on that table, I spilled the fig.” or “company is coming over, I got to pass a mop on the floor”
I talked to my kids about the “come see” part. They still don’t believe there is a problem. And I can’t remember if you had Pass a good time? Also toast bread and grind meat. My friend just said those recently.
Laughing sha. Try teaching English to kids who forget homework and say “I leff it home”!
I’m born, raised, and still in Swords, La. We get the “de-dan” when we get grossed out. Also we have Bon-bon’s. Meaning low class people or the kind of people always looking for a hand out.
My parents both speak French but, unfortunately, never taught us. But I grew up in Ville Platte and having my parents and all grandparents speaking French, we picked up quite a bit. Now live in Lafayette and my husband and his family have very little or no French-speaking background. I think it’s hilarious when my kids repeat things I say, that I don’t realize I’m even saying. Like, “aw, mais la!” when something doesn’t go quite right. I even have them calling their farts “peeyante”! haha! The other day I told them to make sure they wore shoes to play outside so they wouldn’t get “peekawns” in their feet! My dad was surprised to hear me say that, because, living in Lafayette, he hasn’t heard that in a while!
I never heard hosepipe until recently either… my husbanfs famiky from st james parish says that though….
im a native of acadiana area and we say ” save the dishes” -put dishes away
also, my husband’s grandfather, who was from Abbeville, would call electricity “current”. After a hurricane, he’d call us up and ask, “Y’all got current?”
I have learned of hosepipe in the last 4 years, when I met my now husband. It’s from down da bayou (another saying here) in Houma area. It makes me crazy and he’s a commercial plumber who uses the saying
A couple of unique Cajun slang phrases:
Come See: used to call one one to you.
Get down: we get down at someone’s house when we arrive.
I didn’t want these to get missed.
I moved from New Iberia to Miami in 1986. It was during my first job interview that I realized how much of my vocabulary was local to South Louisiana! I remember keeping a notepad for words that no one else understood. I wish I had kept it. People often ask me to “talk like a Cajun”……
Growing up we were told that the rugaro (roo ga roo) and the fi file (fee filay) would pull our toes if they weren’t covered in bed or if we were out late they would get us and we were terrified!
As a native New Iberian myself, I loved that padookie was on this list! And I have also never heard it spoken outside of New Iberia. We too also say ro-day rather than rodier. 🙂
Favorite. C-est got daug
We “make a grocery bill” (go grocery shopping), and if it’s going to be a quick stop, mom would ask us if we were going to “get down” with her or stay in the car. Now, I’m from Cut off, so we say lots of funny things that you “yankees” north of Hwy 90 may not say. 🙂
oh, we also call the sink a “zink” and the refrigerator an “ice box”. Can’t get out of that habit.
Actually, it’s “bec mon cul” (pronounced chu) and it means “kiss my ass”:-)
Love your analogies! What about “foo yeah”? We always say her hair was totally foo yeah! I’m not sure the Cajun spelling but it means all messed up, discombobulated, out of whack.
Eh – I’m sorry; I didn’t understand you. Could you please repeat that?
One the I love that is currently relevant is “C’est fais chaud!” Or “It’s HOT!”
U forgot cest la vie…which means “that’s life” and mais la…which is in general “I can’t believe” or “say what!”
And for cuss in’ u got fet pi tain (feet pee taa)…son if a bitch.
And cu caut…is a woman’s vag
My stepdad was from near Arnaudville…when my girlfriends and I would go riding around Opelousas on the weekends during high school he said we were going to “chen-a-yay” which translates to what a female dog does around the neighborhood when she is in heat!!
thoroughly enjoyed-now tell me the truth, did Carmen help you? lol
Boo, To see padookie written is delightful. Yes I’m from New Iberia too. Thanks for the laughs!! Pooyie, I’m tired, going do do, yah.
Agree with Megan. We Roday. Lol.
I surely could have used your expanded explanations when first married into my Cajun family. As a Parisian French speaking person, I stood behind my husband and asked, “what did he say?” I am now laughing hysterically at your definitions and wish the world could experience this phenomenon. I have never met a more life-loving, hard working, joyous people in my life. I am so proud to have been embraced by the Mamans, Papas, Parens, les marrannes, and les ‘teets. Go Saints! pooyi!!!
The ‘fwa’ actually comes from the French ‘fois’ (think pate de fois gras), cuz that’s what it looks like when you have ‘the fois’!!
Now, for the cussin’… Son of a bitch is literally translated as ‘fils de putain’, pronounced just like we all heard it growing up.
My mama, from Jeanerette, LA, always said rodier but pronounced it as ro-die-ay which is still how I say it today!
Instead of the more southern ‘bless her/his heart’, we always say ‘pauvre bête’ pronounced as pawve bet.
I did some research for a book I wrote and I believe it’s ‘Garde donne’. Also, don’t know the spelling, but also said ‘ro-day’ and I’m from Loreauville and we said padookie, too. Might be an Iberia Parish thing, but always thought it was a teenage girl thing. Regarding french curse words, there’s the inimitable ‘fils putin’. Most people think it’s fit putin, but I think that’s a misunderstanding. And then there’s ‘Ca cest la merde’ or ‘That’s some shit’.
My Mom liked that one.
If you was bad bad when you was little and growing up in Little Chenier, you was scared that Madame Grand Doigts (pronounced dwah) was gonna come out the marsh and get you with her big, long ugly fingers.
Poo yi, I got the frissons thinking about it, me.
Montegut, La. (Down the bayou from Houma)-We had a hose pipe. The term “hosepipe” is chiefly British, South African, and southern US usage, according to Wikipedia. We call an inspection sticker for your car a brake tag. Talk about hard finding a brake tag when I moved 100 miles northwest.
Tett duh / hard headed
pican / splinter
I told you if you walked on the dock barefooted you would catch a pican in you foot but you was to tette duh to listen.
Good ones, Nonc Poppa. I think it’s spelled ‘tete dure’ and along with that, there is also ‘tete de cabri’ or ‘goathead’.
we always called our french toast “papazoo” idk how to spell it but thats how we always pronounced it. It is the cajun way of saying “pain perdue” or “lost bread”
another I can think of is even harder to figure out how to spell but its pronounced “faun” where the “n” is barely pronounced. Its means stinky ass haha. My dad used to tell me when I needed to take a bath
“go wash your faun-faun!!”
Also in mamou when saying “it smells like” they leave out the like and replace it with “the” or better pronounced “da” haha.
“it smell da faun-faun in here, ya”
and hopefully any cajun knows the “chaaaa baby” for “aww how cute!”
love your post 🙂
How about “I’ve been knowing him since…” instead of “I’ve known him since…” and “Whenever” instead of “when,” as in “I’ve been knowing him since whenever I was small-small,” or “whenever the air conditioning broke last week, it was hot-hot.”
Also “I’m after dat!” instead of “I’m doing it!”
New Iberia, here…So many of these brought back great memories! One to add is straight from my Grannie. She would say, “Cher, le petite Jesus. Ooo, Ima pinch dat, yeah”, every time she saw a baby. It’s funny how many of these I still say regularly! Thank you for making me laugh (at myself) and letting me wander down memory lane. Absolutely great writing!
I’m from Jeanerette & we also say padookie. I guess it’s a parish-wide thing. Something else that I am told is a Jeanerette thing is the word “smot”, which is what you would call somebody who was being a smart ass. Hosepipe? What?!?
I loved reading both post. My husband and I are both from south La. and I can’t begin to tell you the looks we’ve received over the years for some of the phrases we’ve used (all on these list or in the comments). We’ve moved around quite a bit due to my husband’s 23 years in the Marine Corps.
I have noticed the phrase you posted, “Tataille: A monster.” and a commenter on the other post wrote “ta tais — a peice of fluff or whatnot.” But I have grown up hearing (and using it throughout my adult life) a similar phrase “ta-ta” (not sure how else to spell it) meaning to console by hugging or patting on the back. For example, when a small child is upset or crying one would say, “Awww, come see and let me ta ta the baby.” Maybe another poster can add to this phrase.
This was so wonderful, once again. And yes, we are all nice–we live in the happiest state, didn’t ya see dat cher?
I have had the pleasure of reading your two posts on language and now am following you. As an English teacher, I’m fascinated with the different patois and ways the language is expressed in the various areas of our country. Your posts are excellent. Thank you.
I love this blog man, I read the whole first page and got as far as the do-do part before I needed to make a comment, I grew up hearing this from my dad, and it’s not a really big deal, but I feel that when people read it the read doo-doo, I feel that the way it is spelled is doe-doe, that is also how it is pronounced ” alright shaa it’s gettin late, time to go doe-doe” I hope you don’t get mad at my comment and I appreciate you showing how awesome south Louisiana’s vocabulary is compared to the rest of the world, there’s no place like home
Oh and before I forget, I’m pretty sure that “prolly” as probably is only used here
Don’t know the correct spelling or if ya done posted it, but what about popeecha(po-pea-cha-a)! Meaning for goodness sake!
That Man, aka the fiance who is a Eunice boy, says “watch ya self” when he wants you to move out of the way…or should I say out the way. My family who was from the Abbeville/Erath area always called it the ‘loup garou’ and we thought it was a werewolf that lived in the woods. I never hear rou ga rou until watching a show filmed somewheres DTB (down the bayou).
I forgot to add that the grandbebes call him PaPa (puh pa) and me, Amie (PaPa’s friend). In addition to their Nanny, there’s no aunt or uncle for them – they have a Tauntie and a Nonky.
Years ago, you knew who came from Delcambre because they would always end their sentences with “neg”, as in “Catch that ball, neg!”
Yayyyyy Kaplan made the list lol!!! Nobody EVER recognizes poodoo. We’ve even got shirts that say poodoos are people too lol. I’ve heard zdob too mostly in delcambre. I call my children craut or tcraut all the time (shit, lil shit)….I’m not sure if the pronunciation is getting across, you have to roll the r lol
I laughed so hard reading this. I don’t know if you had … Mee za, ya, ( which to us meant a lot of trouble) as in you give me some mee za ya! Can’t wait to buy the book!
Awesome Cher!!! I have heard or spoken many of these words when speaking to my grandma!!! Love it!!! Keep them coming!… En Fah is another guess it means O my!
I’m not sure if it was mentioned already, but how about trey ter (sp)…meaning treater….like for sun stroke, poison ivy, etc.
Man this makes me want to move back home! (Rayne, woot woot!)
Most of the French/Cajun I head growing up came from my grandma – reading this and the comments reminded me so much of things I haven’t heard in years since I moved to New Orleans. I will say I never heard hosepipe or brake tag til I moved here. I really thought a brake tag was something extra you had to get here along with your inspection sticker!
One I can think of that I haven’t seen yet is ‘ponce’ – I don’t know if I’m spelling it right, but it means to hook up/fool around/have sex. As in ‘I went in the room and caught my sister and her man about to ponce!’
Also, I grew up calling all cats a ‘minu.’
Aunts in my family are T-taunt – little aunt.
You know how when people talk to their friend they’ll say bro/bruh, or man after, like “hey, how are you bruh?’ Instead of that people will say ‘cuz’ as in cousin. As in ‘hey, quoi ca dis, cuz?’ (hey, what you say/whats up, cuz?) Cause in a small town, chances are you’re related to who you’re talking to one way or another!
I am a 8th/9th Generation Cajun and had NEVER heard of a hosepipe until we moved to Baton Rouge/Port Allen ~ I don’t think this is a Cajunism, it’s a term used in the Plants for ‘a flexible hose”, they also call a drill bit a “drill” and the drill itself is called a “drill motor”, they call themselves Cajuns in Baton Rouge, where the actual Cajun Area line is drawn at the Mississippi River from what I have learned through my research… One you did not use was a Coulee… Most people from here think I make up my own words, but we go “do-do”, we “save” our things, we make “passes” by places, and you “ta-ta” the hand when a baby touches things he ain’t supposed to!!! Love My Heritage!!!!
Ca-ca poul — chicken shit. “He’s ca-ca poul.” He’s scared.
Padookie! I’m from new Iberia and grew up saying badookie but over the years it changed to padookie. It’s has always blown my mind that it is strictly a new Iberia thing. The word “pony tail holder” makes me cringe. Also, it wasn’t until I left the state that I learned that “tenny shoes” only exist in acadiana.
ton nad mais craz- an expression of exasperation by my father
when I got into mischief
Ken, I have to say that I’ve never read a more factual blog about the Cajun language/dialect/slang. There’s so much incorrect information and translations in the movies and press – usually because they try to combine Cajun sayings and traditions with New Orleans area “creole” (another rant topic of its own). Many of my aunts were “t’aunt” and many of my uncles were “nonc”. I’ve heard or used just about every one of the things mentioned so far, but I haven’t seen anybody mention this one. I can’t count how many times I was called a “tet dur” (hard head) as a kid – usually at the end of some longer Cajun phrase that I wasn’t supposed to understand. That’s with a rolled “r” at the end for all of you novices. My kids have even heard that one many times. And I have repeated arguments with my wife (who is a purebred Y’at) about the appropriateness of “getting down” from a vehicle. I finally got her to concede that I do actually “get down” from my truck – but she still insists that you can’t “get down” from a car. Amazing that a Y’at would argue about the appropriateness of any forms of speech, right?
I said this in casual conversation the other day and was stopped by someone bc they thought I was crazy….. “It must be time for me to was my sheets bc it feels like they have Gris mis’ in my bed.”
Shawz! Did you cover Shawz? – from Da berry
“Anh”… A single syllable word used by Cajuns that translates to “pardon me, but I didn’t understand what you said. Can you please repeat yourself?”
Love this. I was raised along Bayou Lafrouche and this morning my little Brooklyn born and raised girl smelled the garbage on the street and said “aw couchon!” as in that stinks. I was so proud. Also at christmas I get funny looks when I say “Santa passed”. And hosepipe was definitely a word we used!
When we took a friend home to Pierre Part from Nicholls Univ, she asked “wanna get down?” I (from Baton Rouge) thought she meant “dance” but she was asking if we wanted to get out of the car and come inside.
“Slice” of gum was another thing I hadn’t heard before. We always called it a “piece”.
Oh, and do you eat dirty potato salad or plain potato salad? Dirty because it has all that “trash” in it.
I think “fwa” is foie for liver. I’ve got a bad liver would be saying I’ve got “stomach trouble”
I had a “nanny gros cul” (pronounced gros chew). Why our family allowed us toddler to call someone, very affectionately I might add, nanny big ass is beyond me! We also cause adults a lot of “misere” or trouble and often made a “tranasse” (thrahn-aas) or mess.
You’re right Alice Billing, fwa is foie (liver) and not foire (a fair), in french we can say “crise de foie” for a stomach trouble.
I always got picked on by people that are not in cajun country, when I said “I got down at the store”
i have a few to add to the list of awesomeness.
speed it up, slow it down…….adjust the volume
“Consons” (kawn-sawns) instead of panties or underwear.
“Gremilles” (grim-meez) which mean little bits of unknown stuff, so you could have grimmelles to scrub out of the bottom of a cooking pot, or grimmelles all over your rug, or grimmelles around a kids mouth.
“Car porch” instead of car port.
“Push up” instead of scoot over/move over.
“Pie-yahd,” which means extremely drunk or wasted.
“Smae” or Smay, which means to be sneaky leaving behind or ditching somebody who isn’t acting right, such as “Mais, she was so pie-yahd, we smaed her at her her mom and dem’s house.”
Another very local term in my area is to threaten children that “Barrosse” will get them if they are bad, kinda like the boogeyman. Barrosse was the first name of an actual man in the Kaplan area just a few generations ago and there was something “wrong” with him, and he was disfigured or obviously disabled in some way. He was scary to look as he walked around town, according to my grandmother, who actually knew him, and although I’ve never heard anyone under 30 threaten their kids with “Barrosse,” the older folks and their parents did.
I’m from California, and I’ve lived the Kaplan/Cow Island area for 9 years, and I’ve heard every one of the words in your list and in these comments, and it’s amazingly comprehensive!
If a person was noisey he was considered glun nae.which means noisey
That boy is very glun nae.
I love these and reading the comments. Especially love this one. My Mawmaw is Bootsie and this is perfect for her, because if you are out by Bootsie you better make a pass by for of that rice and gravy!
Ah beb I love this post, tee! I’ll share with ya a little bit from where I grew up, Chackbay (SE Louisiana.
I always hear hosepipe south of I-10, when I moved to Lafayette and said dis, they thought I was a couyon and never heard of this before!
Oh-mon-dieu meaning oh-my-god! Usually in shock while gossiping.
My momma always had us make fais-do-do (meaning go to sleep) but fais-do-do is a Cajun dance party. Rumor is the parents out the kids to bed so they would go out a dancin’ in a Saturday night!
Taunte (Aunt) Shirley and Nonk (uncle) Nick
Grasse-ma-chu (kiss my a**)
Des chose – meaning in french “that thing” but really any generic thing that paw paw implies you know what he’s talking about.
Gremmisse- the drippings in the pan..the tasty little crunchy parts leftover.
Thanks for the post, Ken, and, folks, for the comments. Ken, I always thought “fwa” was for the French “froid,” suggesting the chills associated with a flu or other fever-associated malady.
yeah, I’m from Jeanerette and we say padookie. My girl friend (who is from Houma) doesn’t even know what the heck I’m talking about. We are both from South LA but different parts.
I’m from Larose and say hosepipe, but my husband is from Jennings and laughs at me when I say it! But after 14 years of marriage, we still say (and text!) to each other, “I love you, yeah. 🙂
In ponchatoula we say ” you musta misunderheard me” instead of i didn’t hear you say that or I mis took what you said..also
Fantastic! I love this! I use several of these and like posters above, I confuse my wonderful Yankee husband when using ‘ta-ta’ to tell our son ‘don’t touch’ AND when he is grumpy ‘he needs some ta-taing’. Thanks all for sharing
Loved reading dis!
I thoroughly enjoyed your post! I’m from a Louisiana Italian family that had Cajun friends, so I grew up loving their language. My grandparents and father said “hosepipe,” which they may have learned from the Cajuns. Not sure. I found your blog in a search for Cajun expressions. I write a fiction series for teens set in Louisiana, and my main character is a half-Cajun girl. Best wishes!
You seriously never heard of a house pipe?!
Don’t know how to spell what I’m trying to say exactly but I’ll try. I’m New Iberian myself and I remember hearing ta-ta or tau-tau to babies when they wanted the baby to give them whatever the baby had in their hands. Do you by chance know what I mean? Please reply to let me know. Thanks
The “hose pipe” one is for sure regional. I’m from Bosco and was 27 the first time I heard it while working in Belle River/Pierre Part and at a crawfish boil. I was asked to “go grab da hosepipe” and didn’t have a clue what she was talking about.
I had and aunt who always wanted to go to walmarts for the clarence sale.
Thanks so much for this post! I grew up in New Iberia and I’m keeping a list of all these terms so I don’t forget them. This was really helpful!
I grew up in Lafayette area and we always say “get down”. For example, you pull up to a store and ask the passenger, “are you going to get down?” Family from elsewhere would laugh every time.
Thank you. I have a friend who moved here from Cajun country. I already knew some of these from listening to her talk, and the list was very helpful, too. Thanks
I’m not sure about the spelling but how about gras-do and cassaid. As in, “please put some gras-do from the bottom of the pot on my rice” and “We drank at the dance last night and got cassaid”. I was never misunderstood using these words in Thibodaux and Houma, can’t say that now on the Northshore. And I’ve always felt these were cool and fun words to use in conversation, especially gras-do.
So is the “talking funny” a book that can be purchased?
My 95-yr-old friend always said that when she lived in Cajun country she would be asked to get down and come in, clearly from stepping down from a wagon or carriage. If she had been away, she would be asked, “Did you pass a good entertain?”
My grandmother used to say ‘ v-wa-la mad’ and for running the road we always say ‘ thran-a’ . I don’t know how to spell them in cajun french.
Awe yeah, “if”! And “hose pipe” is said all over river Parish a d Houma Thibodaux areas. How about pop-chukee (cheaply made), casse (Kas-say, when something breaks), modee (spelled modit for real, like modee Mairrrd), Kell mee-da (what now!)
I got into and argument with another girl from Chalmette about chuchut. Mawmaw always said it was “a little nothing”. Her mama told her it was her lady parts.
I’m 67 and live on Bayou La Fourche. I have only recently heard of the word fwa for diarrhea. I’ve always said chiasse. “I got the chiasse”. Chiasse means the shits, which is the same thing.