Cajuns are the descendants of Acadians who came from Nova Scotia
to Louisiana as a result of their refusal to swear allegiance
to the British Crown. "Cajun" is an evolution of the
French pronunciation of the word "Acadian," the name
of the original region in Nova Scotia, and the name applied
to them when they settled in Louisiana.
At the time of their
eviction around 1755 there was a war going on in what is now
Canada between France and Great Britain over the colony of New
France, which is today Quebec.
The Acadians refused to support
the French but they also refused to swear allegiance to Britain,
wanting nothing to do with the war and wishing to remain neutral.
Fears remained among the British that the Acadians might join
the French in the war and so the Crown chose to evict those
Acadians who refused to swear allegiance.
Cajun French (derived from Acadian French) although a dialect
of the French language, differs in some areas of pronunciation
as well as in some areas of vocabulary with Parisian French.
Most of the older generations in Acadiana are bilingual, having
grown up with French in the home and learning English in school.
In recent years the number of speakers of Cajun French has
diminished considerably, however efforts are being made to
reintroduce the language among the youngest generations. CODIFIL
(or the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana)
was established during the late 1960's, and continues to teach
a version of French somewhere between the older Cajun dialect
and "Parisian French".
Today Cajun areas of Louisiana
often form partnerships with Acadians in Canada who send French
teachers to teach the language in schools.
Acadiana is the region most Cajuns called home.
The traditional definition of the region includes the parishes
(Louisiana's equivalent of counties) of Vermilion, Acadia,
Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Landry, Iberia, and Jeff
Davis. Cities within the region include Lafayette, Abbeville,
New Iberia, Eunice, Mamou, Opelousas, Franklin, Crowley, Rayne,
St. Martinville, and Breaux Bridge. This definition has become
fuzzier over the years, and now many Cajuns live other parts
of Louisiana, and in the "golden triangle" area
of Texas (Houston, Beaumont, and Port Arthur) where they followed
oil field jobs during the "oil bust" of the 1970's