May 06, 2012


Every Thursday evening, a group of about 10 students gathers at Houma's Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum with workbooks and hefty language dictionaries.

They practice speaking to each other in local French, trying out words and sentences and memorizing the proper terms.

Learning a second language can be a hobby or an attempt to reconnect with one's roots. But for these students, there's another goal: To save a dying local language.

“I grew up with my mom and all my family speaking French,” said Theresa Picou, 52, a Raceland resident. “It's a part of the culture that I want to stay. To me, learning the language makes you feel a sense of belonging.”

Swampy Louisiana regional French tones have long been a unique part of life in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes and a link to the culture. But most of the area's youngest residents have not learned the language from their elders, leaving Cajun French with an uncertain future.

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