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Cajun 101

resources for learning louisiana french at home

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New Lesson Series

Dimanche, 4 Octobre 2015

Years ago, when I began teaching my son some Louisiana French, I thought that he (or anyone for that matter) might be able to pick up a language by reading a story in which some of the English words are systematically replaced by French words. As the story progresses, more and more words will be in French and at some point the reader, without having to try too hard, would be reading a story written in French. The fallacy of this method is that it ignores the differences in grammar between English and French. Obviously, French is not just English with all the English words substituted for French ones. However, I figured that at some point whole phrases could be plugged into the text and perhaps, if the writer were clever, they could figure out how to explain or demonstrate grammatical differences.

As with many of my brilliant ideas, this one just lay dormant and unrealized; that is until a few months ago when I was reading from The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis and chanced across her story called “French Lesson I: Le Meurtre.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading! Here was a story written in precisely the way I’d imagined writing stories for Louisiana French learners. Davis’ story begins like this: “See the vaches ambling up the hill, head to rump, head to rump. Learn what a vache is. A vache is milked in the morning, and milked again in the evening, twitching her dung-soaked tail, her head in a stanchion.” I bet you know what a vache is after reading that.

Even more years ago, when I was a teenager, the age when I started reading comic books, my favorite comic book was Swamp Thing. The on-going story was set in Louisiana and concerned a swamp monster who was once a man. The swamp monster had incredible powers over the natural world and he was in love with a beautiful woman named Abigail. I’ve always thought it would be fun to write a story with a swamp monster in it. But I didn’t just want to write Swamp Thing fan fiction, I thought I might write my story about the people on the bayou whose paths crossed with the swamp monster. And I thought it might be fun to write the story from the perspective of person who is trying to uncover the mystery of the swamp monster. Whatever that mystery might be.

So I’ve combined these two ideas, of substituting French words for English ones in a story about a swamp monster in Louisiana. The first lesson introduces six French words: histoire, bière, gros vent, arbres, and nuit.

Leçon 76 - Adverbs [from Faulk p. 76]

jeudi, 26 fevrier 2015

Recall that adjectives modify nouns. Adverbs do the work of modifying both verbs and adjectives. So an adverb can qualify an adjective.

Jane est malade. (Jane is sick.) Sick is an adjective describing Jane. But just how sick is Jane? Jane est bien malade. She is very sick. Very (bien) is an adverb telling just how sick Jane is.

Un autre exemplaire: Jean travaille dur. Mais juste comment dur? Jean travaille trop dur. (Too hard.) Trop dur est comment Jean travaille. Trop est un adverbe qui modifie le adverb dur.

KVPI Tasse de Cafe

jeudi, 24 janvier 2013

If you'd like to practice listening to some real Louisiana French, listen to KVPI each morning beginning 7:30am Central (8:30am to 10am Eastern). At 7:30am you can listen to the news in French. Followed on Wednesdays and Fridays by the show Tasse de Cafe at 7:45am (Central). Tasse de Cafe is a Louisiana French call-in show hosted by Mark Layne and Charlie Manuel. Folks call in and talk about anything. The hosts also do a "word of the day" so listening will help build your vocabulary.

For a view of life in Louisiana, read Ashlee Michot's blog, La Prairie des Femmes. Ashlee writes in English, but salt and peppers her posts with plenty of spicy Louisiana French.

Cajun 101 Mailing List

mercredi, 23 janvier 2013

There's been some action on our mailing list. Some new folks have signed up to participate and exchange comments about their Cajun and French Louisiana heritage. You're welcome to join it. Write in French if you can, or in English. We're a friendly group.

Cajun French Lessons

mardi, 20 septembre 2011

Bonjour! I know it looks like I'm disorganized, but there is madness to my method. (Or is it the other way around?) Basically, I've got two tracks running here for two different trains. One track is my son's learning path; it's called Cajun for Kids. The other track is adapting the Cajun French resources I have (see the sources listed below) for my own (and your) study; it's called Elementary Louisiana French.

For my son, I'm trying to build his vocabulary and develop his French comprehension skills, so we are doing a lot of conversation and French language videos. The videos are in International French, but that's okay. I'm pointing out some of the differences as we go along.

For me and you, I'm putting together Quizlet sets with Cajun French phrases. If you don't know already, Quizlet is a really cool online flashcard based learning tool. You can follow along with the Cajun French sets I'm creating, by joining the Français Cadien/Cajun French group on Quizlet. Or you can wait until I post the new lesson here on Cajun 101 and follow the link to the specific Quizlet set.

About Cajun 101

These Louisiana/Cajun French lessons are a work in progress. I'm teaching my son French at home; he's eight. I still think of myself as a student of French, but trying to teach French is a really good way to learn it. I figured since I'm doing all this work to get lessons ready for my son, then I'd share the materials with everyone, in case it's useful.

The lessons of Cajun for Kids are organized into units of increasing difficulty. Well, I say organized, but they are roughly in the order that I do them with my son.

If you are ready to jump right in, go to the Cajun for Kids page where you'll find an annotated table of contents.

If you are just starting, check out Unité 1 for the basics. You should also read my disclaimer.

While the Cajun for Kids units will work for adults too, you might wish to start with my Elementary Louisiana French track. That's the one I'm using to teach myself.

Read this!

Important: As you go through these pages and the associated lessons and exercises, keep in mind that the purpose here is to document Louisiana French, not International French. Louisiana French is not identical to the French spoken in the rest of the world. So, if you are an International French speaker, you will find things in these lessons which you will think is "incorrect French." However, the French presented on this site is correct Louisiana French (or as correct as I can get it (see the disclaimer referenced above).

Nearly 99% of the examples of Louisiana French given on this site are taken from already published sources. I've added a few examples of my own that I'm sure are mostly correct. However, you might find typos. If you are knowledgeable of Louisiana French, and have some suggestions or corrections, then please let me know. All I ask is that you support your corrections with some sort of documentation. (And saying "that's how my grandmother says it," is fine, but I'd like to know where you are getting your information.)

Sources: Here are the list of sources from which all the study materials on this site are adapted. Cajun French I by James Donald Faulk (Cajun Press, Inc., Abbeville, LA. 1977). Cajun Self-Taught by Rev. Msgr. Jules O. Daigle (Swallow Publications, Ville Platte, LA. 1992. Sixth Printing: 2005). A Dictionary of the Cajun Language by Rev. Msgr. Jules O. Daigle (Swallow Publications, Ville Platte, LA. 1984). Cajun French: Dictionary and Phrasebook by Clint Bruce and Jennifer Gipson (Hippocrene Books, Inc. New York. 2002). Conversational Cajun French 1 by Randall P. Whatley and Harry Jannise (Pelican Publishing Company. Gretna, LA. 2006). Cajun and Creole Folktales: The French Oral Tradition of South Louisiana collected and annotated by Barry Jean Ancelet (University of Mississippi Press. Jackson, MS. 1994). Dictionary of Louisiana French: As Spoken in Cajun, Creole, and American Indian Communities edited by Albert Valdman, Kevin J. Rottet, Barry Jean Ancelet, Richard Guidry, Thomas A. Klingler, Amanda LaFleur, Tamara Lindner, Michael D. Picone, and Dominique Ryon.