The Five Coolest Things About Speaking Cajun
Notice that I said “speaking Cajun” and not Cajun French. Aside from the world famous food, art, and music, us Cajuns have developed a way of speaking unlike any other. You may not realize it. You may not even have an accent, but as any Cajun that has ever received blank stares from confused outsiders can tell you, you don't have to sound like the Swamp People to speak Cajun.
Speaking Cajun makes you awesome. Here's why…
Cajuns are inherently dramatic people. If a Cajun has something important to say, he will never just come right out and say it. Cajuns love the dramatic buildup, even when the build up is far grander than the actual thing the Cajun has to say.
Cajun: Beb, I can tell you something?
Outsider: Sure, what’s up?
Cajun: And look, if I'm crossing some kind of line, you let me know.
Outsider: Okay, what?
Cajun: Now look, when I tell you this, I don't want you to get all worried.
Outsider: I won't. What is it?
Cajun: And remember, if I'm stepping on your toes you let me know.
Outsider: I'M LISTENING.
Cajun: Don't get too worried now.
Outsider: CAN YOU JUST TELL ME?
Cajun: Look, now you see…you all worried. That's why I can't tell you nothing.
When Cajuns visit other parts of the world, they are always applauded for their politeness. However, for Cajuns, being polite is not as much a matter of choice as it is a natural byproduct of speaking Cajun. Politeness is built right into the language, but unlike most cultures where politeness is used as a sign of respect, Cajuns use politeness much like a rattlesnake uses its rattle. Its meant only to distract the victim from the oncoming attack.
When a Cajun is spouting off nice things; watch out. Something terrible is coming.
Outsider: How is your cousin doing?
Cajun: Well you know my cousin is a real sweet heart. I love her to death. Nicest girl in the world. Couldn't say a bad word about her. But man, that girl, you talk about ugly. She make paint jump off the wall.
Cajun French is the native language of the Cajun people. However, the funny thing about Cajun French, is though only like five Cajuns actually know how to speak the traditional language, people from outside of Acadiana assume ALL Cajuns know how to speak Cajun French. Knowing this, Cajuns can use their small familiarity with the language to spout off Cajun French sounding gibberish when they don't know the correct word to use in a situation without fear of being questioned from outsiders.
Outsider: Hey, I heard you were sick. What was wrong?
Cajun: Oh you know, I had a little “cas-ca-da” in my troat, but it passed.
The Cajun Rope-A-Dope
I'm convinced the Cajuns are the least pretentious people on the planet. Where else in the world could two old men, one poor with nothing to his name but a house boat and a pellet riffle, and another a self made millionaire, be sitting next to each other at a bar, and nobody else in the room would be able to tell you which is which? Only in Acadiana.
That's cause Cajuns love convincing outsider that they are just simple unassuming people. This attitude and lifestyle is a big part of every Cajun's favorite social game; a game I like the call “The Cajun Rope-A-Dope”.
The Cajun Rope-A-Dope is a conversational game you've no doubt witnessed many times in your life, whether you were conscious of it or not. The game is played when a quiet, unassuming Cajun is able to lure loud, fast-talking, pretentious outsiders, into bragging about themselves. Why slowly stroking the bragging outsiders ego, the Cajun lulls the outsider in to a state of comfort and superiority by saying things like, “How bout that”, and “Oh, is that right?” Then, without warning, the Cajun pulls the wool out from under the outsider, making him/her look very foolish, usually in front of a large group of people.
Pretentious Outsider: Yeah, that new BMW outside is for me. It’s pretty nice.
Cajun: Oh is that right?
Pretentious Outsider: Yeah, it was pretty expensive, but you only live once right?
Cajun: Yeah, it’s pretty. I still drive my daddy's old truck.
Pretentious Outsider: Well, I just got a new job at the hospital. I don't want to brag, but I'm doing all right. I figured I could afford a toy. I bet its a little bit faster than your daddy's truck.
Cajun: How bout that.
Pretentious Outsider: I figure in a couple years or so, I'll get a few promotions and I'll have a whole fleet of BMWs. What you think about that?
Cajun: That's real nice.
Pretentious Outsider: Yeah. And what did you say you do?
Cajun: Me? Oh, I own the hospital.
I'm sure it’s happened to you before. You may have been standing in line waiting for a ride at Disney World, or on a plane headed for Europe, when suddenly a stranger that overheard you speaking taps you on the shoulder and asks, “Excuse me, but where are you from?”
The fifth, and by far coolest thing about speaking Cajun, is that no matter where in the world you are, your easily identifiable language can always help you find a friend. Its amazing how often you hear stories about fellow Cajuns being in far away countries, and running into others that grew up down the road from them in Acadiana. Hearing that familiar Cajun voice in unfamiliar places is one of the most comforting feelings a Cajun can have. Cajuns stick together, and just by simply growing up in Acadiana, and learning to speak the Cajun way, you've received a vocal identification card that is valid anywhere in the world fellow Cajuns are gathered. It’s a beautiful thing.