Learn to Speak Cajun

Années passées [a-nee pass-ay]

Years gone by.

Bayou [bi-yoo]

A slow moving stream.

Beignet [bin-yay]

A fried square French donut coated with powdered sugar.

Bon ami [bon ah-mee]

Good friend.

Boolye

Bright light used to blind prey while hunting.

Buster

A crab that has recently shed its shell – a soft shell crab.

Ca c’est bon!

It’s GOOD!

Camp

A vacation home.

Catch me

“Get for me” or “Bring to me.”

Come see

A verbal command, instructing or request asking someone to come near to “check this out.” A command to “come here.”

Crawfish

“Mudbug” – Crustacean served boiled or fried.

Étouffée [ay too fay]

Smothered seafood, Cajun stew.

Fifolet [fee fo lay]

According to Cajun folklore, it is a bright light seen in swamp areas that is said to misdirect or disorient those who try to follow it as a perceived point of safety.

Gris-gris

A spell using physical items, like a charm or talisman.

Gumbo

African word for okra, which is used as a thickening agent in a dark stew of seafood or meat, served over rice.

Jambalaya [jum-buh-ly-ah]

Well-seasoned mixture of rice, meat and vegetables cooked in one pot.

King Cake

Circular yeast cake decorated with purple, yellow and green sugars and containing a plastic baby (to represent baby Jesus) served throughout the Mardi Gras season. The person who gets the baby provides the next king cake.

Laissez les bon temps rouler! [lay-zay lay bon tom roo-lay]

Let the good times roll!

Lutin [loo-tan]

According to Cajun folklore, it is the spirit of a baby who died before it was baptized and engages in mischievous trick and pranks on the living.

Make a Grocery Bill

Go shopping.

Mardi Gras [mar-dee graw]

Fat Tuesday, the season that begins the twelfth night after Christmas and ends the day before Lent

Me

“Me” is often used as a secondary possessive to reinforce the primary possessive noun. E.g., “I’m gone to town, me” – meaning “I’m going to town.”

Nanny

Godmother.

Parish

A political division resembling counties in other states. Louisiana is the only state with parishes (dating back to Napoleon and a strong Catholic influence).

Pa-ran

Godfather.

Pirogue [pee row]

A small, canoe-like boat.

Po po

The police.

Pope yaire

Butterfly shrimp nets.

Push/Pushing

The process of a shrimp boat navigating up and down a bayou or waterway with its nets dropped into the water.

Rougarou [roo-gah-roo]

According to Cajun legend, it is a creature that physically transforms from a man into a wolf or dog or even a bird.

Rougarouin’

Getting into trouble; causing trouble.

Sauce piquante [saws pee-kaw(n)]

Tomato base; rich stew.

Skiff

Small boat for crabbing or shrimping.

Who dat?

Who is that? Who goes there?

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