Cajun English

Acadiana, the traditional Cajun homeland and the stronghold of both the Cajun French and Cajun English dialects.

Cajun English, or Cajun Vernacular English, is the dialect of English spoken by Cajuns living in southern Louisiana and, to some extent, in eastern Texas. Cajun English is significantly influenced by Cajun French, the historical language of the Cajun people, who descended from Acadian settlers and others. It is derived from Acadian French. This differed markedly from Metropolitan or Parisian French in terms of pronunciation and vocabulary, particularly because of the long isolation of Acadians, and even more so of Cajuns, from the Francophone world.

English is now spoken by the vast majority of the Cajun population, but French influence remains strong in terms of inflection and vocabulary. Their accent is quite distinct from the General American.[1] Cajun French is considered by many to be an endangered language, mostly used by elderly generations. But Cajun English is spoken by even the youngest Cajuns, and is considered to be part of the identity of the ethnic group.


Cajun English is distinguished by some of the following phonological features:

These are a few other examples.

English Cajun English (pronounced)
Ask Ax
They Dey
Them Dem
Those Dose
Something Sometin
Think Fink or Tink
Enough Nuff
Respect Respek
Except Sept
Three Tree

Cajun English vowels

Kit: [ɪ]
Dress: [ɛ] or [æ]
Trap: [æ]
Lot: [ɑ]
Strut: [ʌ]
Foot: [ʊ]
Fleece: [i:]
Face: [e:]
Palm: [ɑ]
Thought: [a]
Goat: [o:]
Near: [i:]
Square: [ɛ] or [æ]
Start: [ɑ] or [a]
North: [ɔə] or.[ɔɹ]
Force: [ɔə] or [ɔɹ]
Cure: [uə] or [ʊə]
Bath: [æ]
Cloth: [a]
Nurse: [ʌə] or [ʌɹ]
Goose: [uː]
Price/Prize: [ɑɪ] or [a:]
Choice: [ɔɪ]
Mouth:[aʊ] or [a:]
happY: [ɪ] or [i]
lettEr: [əɹ]
horsEs: [ɪ]
commA: [ə]
Hand: [æ]
Pin/Pen: [ɪ]
Think/Length: [i]
Mirror/Nearer: [i] or [ɪ]
Orange: [ɑ] or [ɔ]

French-influenced Cajun vocabulary

Most confusing phrases

There are several phrases used by Cajuns that are completely unknown to non-Cajun speakers. When outside of Acadiana, Cajuns tend to be made fun of for using these phrases. Young Cajuns are often jokingly discouraged from marrying non-Cajuns for this simple fact. Some common phrases are listed below:

Come See

"Come see" is the equivalent of saying "come here" regardless of whether or not there is something to "see." This phrasing may have its roots in "ici" (pronounced ee-see), the French word for "here." The French "viens voir," meaning "come see" or "please come," is often used in Cajun French to ask people to come. [3]

Save the dishes

To "save the dishes" means to "put away the dishes into cupboards where they belong after being washed". While dishes are the most common subject, it is not uncommon to save other things. For example: Save up the clothes, saving the tools, save your toys.

Get/Run down at the store

"Getting/Running down at the store" involves stepping out of a car to enter the store. Most commonly, the driver will ask the passenger, "Do you want to run/get down with me?" One can get down at any place, not just the store. The phrase "get down" may come from the act of "getting down from a horse" as many areas of Acadiana were only accessible by horse (or boat) well into the 20th century. It also may originate from the French language descendre meaning to get down, much as some English-Spanish bilingual speakers say "get down," from the Spanish bajar.

Makin' (the) groceries

"Makin' groceries" refers to the act of buying groceries, rather than that of manufacturing them. The confusion originates from the direct translation of the American French phrase "faire l'épicerie" which is understood by speakers to mean "to do the grocery shopping." "Faire" as used in the French language can mean either "to do" or "to make." This is a term frequently used in New Orleans, but it's not used very much elsewhere in the Acadiana area. [4]

In popular culture



Video games

Several characters of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, particularly the narrator, have Cajun accents. Some characters even use Cajun French phrases.



  1. Do You Speak American . Sea to Shining Sea. American Varieties: Cajun | PBS
  2. 1 2 Dubois, Sylvia and Barbara Horvath (2004). "Cajun Vernacular English: phonology." In Bernd Kortmann and Edgar W. Schneider (Ed). A Handbook of Varieties of English: A Multimedia Reference Tool. New York: Mouton de Gruyter. p. 409-10.
  3. Valdman, Albert. Dictionary of Louisiana French. University Press of Mississippi. p. 655. ISBN 9781604734034.

See also

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