Louisiana - Languages



White settlers in Louisiana found several Indian tribes of the Caddoan confederacy, from at least five different language groups. In 1990, about 495 Louisiana residents spoke an American Indian language at home. Place-names from this heritage include Coushatta, Natchitoches, and Ouachita.

Louisiana English is predominantly Southern. Notable features of the state's speech patterns are pen and pin as sound-alikes and, in New Orleans, the so-called Brooklyn pronunciation of bird as / boyd/. A pecan sugar candy is well known as praline.

In 2000, 3,771,003 Louisiana residents—90.8% of the population five years old and older (up from 89.9% in 1990)—spoke only English at home.

Unique to Louisiana is a large enclave, west of New Orleans, where a variety of French called Acadian (Cajun) is the first language. From it, and from early colonial French, English has taken such words as pirogue (dugout canoe), armoire (wardrobe), boudin (blood sausage), and lagniappe (extra gift).

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali.

Louisiana

LANGUAGE NUMBER PERCENT
Population 5 years and over 4,153,367 100.0
Speak only English 3,771,003 90.8
Speak a language other than English 382,364 9.2
Speak a language other than English 382,364 9.2
French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 194,314 4.7
Spanish or Spanish Creole 105,189 2.5
Vietnamese 23,326 0.6
German 8,047 0.2
Chinese 5,731 0.1
Arabic 5,489 0.1
French Creole 4,470 0.1
Italian 3,730 0.1
Tagalog 3,335 0.1
Korean 2,402 0.1
African languages 2,278 0.1


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