This morning a friend of mine sent me a link to this video in which Louisiana singer-songwriter Drew Landry shares his perspective on the BP oil spill with The National Oil Spill Commission.
The video has gone viral, and with good reason. As you watch it, you can’t help but think about all of the hundreds of thousands of people (and animals) who have suffered in Louisiana in recent years due to extreme weather conditions and chemical spills (the current BP spill, and the hundreds of other smaller ‘accidents’ that have routinely taken place in the waterways for decades).
I’ve felt a little helpless as I’ve watched these ugly events unfold. I’m not a physician, scientist, construction worker, or counselor. I don’t know how to mend the wounded or rebuild a city. Today though, thanks to hearing Mr. Landry sing, I suddenly understand what I can do for Louisiana.
With this blog, I can invite the world to really listen to the people of Louisiana.
I invite you to listen.
Louisiana is one of only a handful of areas of this county blessed with such an extraordinary wealth of ethnicities, cultures, traditions, languages and dialects. In this forum, I can’t possibly begin to share with you all the riches of Louisiana. So instead of trying, I will stick to my path as a dialect consultant and share with you clips that demonstrate a few of the many dialects and languages of Louisiana. Please see the end of this post for further links to other aspects of Louisiana life. I encourage you to add your own favorite Louisiana links in the comments section.
And if any of these clips resonate with you, I encourage you to share them on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or your own blog.
We save what we love.
We love what we know.
Get to know Louisiana.
First some words about craft from New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis
Here’s a link to a report about how the Atakapa residents of town Grand Bayou are coping with the current oil spill.
Next is Lionel Le Blanc of New Iberia, LA in the Academy Award Nominated, BAFTA Award winning film Louisiana Story.
Here is a clip from the language documentary American Tongues featuring a French Cajun Couple.
A little Cajun music, food and French Cajun language:
Here is Louisiana resident Lenis Guillot describing a crime scene:
Here is a clip from the documentary Canarians of the Mississippi: The Canary Islanders In Louisiana
And finally a clip from the film Yeah You Rite! (1985) where New Orlean residents discuss their own accents and the accents of their neighbors. (Please note the opinions expressed in this video are solely those of the participants.)
For more about Louisiana, you might start with this article from Louisianafolklife.org.
For a look at Louisiana’s relationship with the oil industry, please watch Josh Tickell’s documentary FUEL. (Right now, it’s available on instant view at Netflix for no extra charge above your regular subscription.)
Here are two videos that explain the impact of Hurricane Gustav (2008) on several Louisiana Native American tribes. Here is Part One. And here is Part Two. (Did you know that not all Native American tribes are recognized by the US gov’t? I didn’t until I began to write this post.)
For links to information about Native American tribes http://www.native-languages.org/louisiana.htm
YouTube has many interesting links if you search for ‘Native American Louisiana’ ‘African American Louisiana’ ‘Cajun American Louisiana’ etc/
For an article about Cajun English, try this Wikipedia entry.
Here’s a Wikipedia entry on the Louisiana Creole people.
The International Dialects of English Archive shows only three dialect donor recordings for Louisiana. If you are in Louisiana and would like to contribute to this archive by recording Louisiana residents, please go here to learn about how to become an associate editor.
Okay, I’ll leave you to find your own gems…
If any of these links don’t work, please let me know at dialect411@gmail (dot) com.