Title

Examining the Role of Cajun French in Cajun Identity: A Comparison of Four Studies

Subject Area

French and Francophone Studies

Abstract

South Louisiana, where Cajun French was the traditional oral vernacular language of many communities, is a region that has undergone long-term and large-scale language shift to English while maintaining a unique character and culture that remain linked to the local French dialect. At present, one may ask to what extent Cajun French, still spoken by members of older generations, may be associated with Cajun identity for younger members of traditionally Cajun communities. Dubois and Melançon (1997) explored the role of Cajun French in Cajun identity with a task that asked participants to identify which of a series of seven options they considered to constitute characteristics of a ‘true’ Cajun, and the same concept was incorporated into three recent studies with high-school- and college-age residents of South Louisiana. Within each data set, self-identification as Cajun or Cajun-American is considered in relation to responses to the ‘true’ Cajun items. This presentation will focus on the status of the linguistic criteria – speaking French, speaking Cajun French, and speaking Cajun French as one’s first language – as correlates of Cajun identity in the responses from each of the four studies. Analysis of responses to ‘true’ Cajun items will be compared between the studies, to determine whether the trends noted by Dubois and Melançon regarding the linguistic dimension of Cajun identity have continued. The discussion will focus on the current perception of the importance of linguistic factors in the construction of Cajun identity and whether Cajun French remains a salient element of the Cajun community for young community members.

Reference:

Dubois, S., & Melançon, M. (1997). Cajun is dead – long live Cajun: Shifting from a linguistic to a cultural community. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 1, 63-93.

Brief Bio Note

Tamara Lindner is an Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her research focuses on language attitudes toward Cajun French in South Louisiana, systematic transcription of Cajun French oral production, and integrating Louisiana varieties of French into mainstream French instruction. She is a co-editor of the Dictionary of Louisiana French: As spoken in Cajun, Creole and American Indian Communities (2010, University of Mississippi Press).

Keywords

Cajun French, Language attitudes, Language and identity

Location

Room 221

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-27-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

3-27-2015 11:45 AM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 27th, 10:30 AM Mar 27th, 11:45 AM

Examining the Role of Cajun French in Cajun Identity: A Comparison of Four Studies

Room 221

South Louisiana, where Cajun French was the traditional oral vernacular language of many communities, is a region that has undergone long-term and large-scale language shift to English while maintaining a unique character and culture that remain linked to the local French dialect. At present, one may ask to what extent Cajun French, still spoken by members of older generations, may be associated with Cajun identity for younger members of traditionally Cajun communities. Dubois and Melançon (1997) explored the role of Cajun French in Cajun identity with a task that asked participants to identify which of a series of seven options they considered to constitute characteristics of a ‘true’ Cajun, and the same concept was incorporated into three recent studies with high-school- and college-age residents of South Louisiana. Within each data set, self-identification as Cajun or Cajun-American is considered in relation to responses to the ‘true’ Cajun items. This presentation will focus on the status of the linguistic criteria – speaking French, speaking Cajun French, and speaking Cajun French as one’s first language – as correlates of Cajun identity in the responses from each of the four studies. Analysis of responses to ‘true’ Cajun items will be compared between the studies, to determine whether the trends noted by Dubois and Melançon regarding the linguistic dimension of Cajun identity have continued. The discussion will focus on the current perception of the importance of linguistic factors in the construction of Cajun identity and whether Cajun French remains a salient element of the Cajun community for young community members.

Reference:

Dubois, S., & Melançon, M. (1997). Cajun is dead – long live Cajun: Shifting from a linguistic to a cultural community. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 1, 63-93.