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Language Shift in the Coastal Marshes of Louisiana

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Kevin J. Rottet

Throughout the twentieth century numerous ethnic cultures and languages have been threatened by increasing globalization. French Louisiana, a vibrant and diverse region that has been culturally and linguistically distinct from its neighbors for over two centuries, has not been spared this trend. Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, which comprise the coastal marsh area, have been described as strongholds of tradition, in which large numbers of people have continued to speak Cajun French. Yet a closer examination reveals that widespread bilingualism is drawing to a close, with very few young people able to speak French at all. This book examines the intergenerational decline of French in the coastal marsh area, including changes taking place in the structure of the language in what appears to be its terminal phase.