Language in Louisiana
Community and Culture
A comprehensive engagement with the past and present linguistic landscape of the Pelican State
Contributions by Lisa Abney, Patricia Anderson, Albert Camp, Katie Carmichael, Christina Schoux Casey, Nathalie Dajko, Jeffery U. Darensbourg, Dorian Dorado, Connie Eble, Daniel W. Hieber, David Kaufman, Geoffrey Kimball, Thomas A. Klingler, Bertney Langley, Linda Langley, Shane Lief, Tamara Lindner, Judith M. Maxwell, Rafael Orozco, Allison Truitt, Shana Walton, and Robin White
Louisiana is often presented as a bastion of French culture and language in an otherwise English environment. The continued presence of French in south Louisiana and the struggle against the language's demise have given the state an aura of exoticism and at the same time have strained serious focus on that language. Historically, however, the state has always boasted a multicultural, polyglot population. From the scores of indigenous languages used at the time of European contact to the importation of African and European languages during the colonial period to the modern invasion of English and the arrival of new immigrant populations, Louisiana has had and continues to enjoy a rich linguistic palate.
Language in Louisiana: Community and Culture brings together for the first time work by scholars and community activists, all experts on the cutting edge of research. In sixteen chapters, the authors present the state of languages and of linguistic research on topics such as indigenous language documentation and revival; variation in, attitudes toward, and educational opportunities in Louisiana’s French varieties; current research on rural and urban dialects of English, both in south Louisiana and in the long-neglected northern parishes; and the struggles more recent immigrants face to use their heritage languages and deal with language-based regulations in public venues. This volume will be of value to both scholars and general readers interested in a comprehensive view of Louisiana’s linguistic landscape.
"No state has a more intriguing and complex language tradition than Louisiana—from its American Indian languages and its unique relationship with French and other world languages to its creoles, Cajun English, and indexical dialects resonating through the different wards of the Big Easy. This collection covers it all, offering chapters that are highly informative for academics and remarkably accessible for the public. It is a linguistic tour de force that will be cited widely and should inspire readers to celebrate the exceptional language legacies of the Bayou State."- Walt Wolfram, William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor, North Carolina State University
"In a refutation of Theodore Roosevelt’s notorious contention that ‘we have room for but one language here, and that is the English language,’ Language in Louisiana: Community and Culture compiles essays on the cutting edge of research into a variety of Bayou State languages. The authors show the depth and complexity of efforts to revive extinct indigenous languages such as Ishak, preserve and promote endangered ones like Louisiana Regional French, and incorporate such recent arrivals as Vietnamese and post-Katrina Spanish. Essays on French—the language most associated with Louisiana’s exotic appeal—peel back several layers of regional and ethnic variety, and although English may be most used in the state today, even it can be broken down into New Orleans, Cajun, and north Louisiana Englishes. This is a thought-provoking yet approachable book that should be on the shelves of Louisianans and non-Louisianans alike who share an interest in the state’s numerous cultures and their languages."- Michael S. Martin, former director of the Center for Louisiana Studies and Cheryl Courrégé Burguières Professor in History, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
"Language in Louisiana: Community and Culture describes a web of sentiments and traditions influencing linguistic cultural expressions across the state. The book illuminates patterns in contemporary language practice that encourage critical perspectives in folklore. Any folklore researchers with projects within the state will benefit from reviewing the breadth of language traditions to engage in a richer understanding of this linguistic landscape"- Hali Dardar, Smithsonian Institution, Journal of American Folklore 135 (2022)