French and Creole In Louisiana

Adapted from Tulane University FREN 4110/6110

What is "Cajun" French? What is Louisiana Creole? Where do they come from? Do Cajuns speak Cajun and Creoles speak Creole? This course seeks to develop a better understanding of the complex linguistic situation of francophone Louisiana, from its origins to the present day. We will begin with the arrival of French-speaking colonists and enslaved Africans in the colonial period and the subsequent development of Louisiana Creole. Chapter two will examine the political, social, and demographic changes of the nineteenth century that allowed French language and culture to flourish before going into rapid decline following the Civil War. In chapter three, we assess the current situation of French and Creole in Louisiana and look at efforts to preserve and promote them. To give students a more concrete idea of just what we mean by "Louisiana (Cajun) French" and "Louisiana Creole," Chapters Four and Five present the most salient structural features of each of these varieties in a comparative perspective. Finally, Chapter Six tries to make sense of the often confusing ways in which language and ethnic labels are used in Francophone Louisiana.

*1. Linguistic developments in the colonial period *2. French and Creole in the nineteenth century: The transformation of the linguistic landscape *3. Decades of decline *4. A French renaissance in Louisiana *5. What is Louisiana ("Cajun") French? *6. What is Louisiana Creole? *7. Language, ethnicity, and labels: Who speaks what?

Nathalie Dajko

Assistant Professor - Department of Anthropology

Thomas A. Klingler

Associate Professor - French & Italian


  • B.A., Manchester College, French, 1983
  • M.A., Indiana University, French Linguistics, 1986
  • M.A., Indiana University, General Linguistics, 1988
  • Ph.D., Indiana University, French Linguistics, 1992

Academic Experience

  • Associate Professor, Tulane University, 1998-
  • Assistant Professor, Tulane University, 1992-1998

Research & Teaching Specializations: Louisiana; Haiti; Language/Linguistics; Creole Languages and Cultures

Course Chapters

  • About This Chapter

    The sustained presence of the French language in the Gulf South dates to the year 1699, when the French Canadian brothers…

  • About This Chapter

    Having reverted briefly to French control in 1800, the Louisiana colony was sold to the young United States in 1803. Paradoxically,…

  • About This Chapter

    After the Civil War, immigration to Louisiana from France dwindled, and Louisiana francophones were unable to maintain the kind of regular…

  • About This Chapter

    By the 1960s, immigrant and minority groups in the United States were challenging the assimilationist ideology that had pressured them to…

  • About This Chapter

    Louisiana French-more commonly known as "Cajun" French-is the most widely spoken variety of French in the state today. As we saw…