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Old 10-10-2010, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Bay View, Milwaukee
2,358 posts, read 4,381,406 times
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[I searched this forum to see if this topic has been addressed; I didn't find anything, but if you know of a thread that addresses this, please let me know.]

I have not had the chance to visit New Orleans, but several friends of mine love it and promote it regularly. The main reason they love it is for its distinctness--its unique culture, architecture, social ethos, and way of life. My friends (one of whom used to live in NOLA) say that the city really is "not very southern," but rather a blend of Cajun, Creole, and Caribbean.

How true is this? Is New Orleans really not very "southern"? Or how much does it have in common with places (North Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, etc.) that are generally considered "southern"? Perhaps some neighborhoods in NOLA are less southern than others? Or is the whole city really more of a culturally distinct island within the South?
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Old 10-10-2010, 08:39 PM
 
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New Orleans is a mix of Southern, Creole, Caribbean, African, Spanish, French, Italian, German, etc..That list can go on and on. While there are places in New Orleans which are quintessentially Southern, like Saint Charles Avenue, Uptown, places like that, there are places in New Orleans which feel very different from the typical South. As residents of New Orleans, we all definitely consider ourselves Southern but we definitely know that we are not the stereotypical southerners. I was having a discussion with my girlfriend about this about an hour ago actually. We are DEFINITELY a Southern town, but we are more Gulf South than anything. We definitely don't have that Tennessee, Georgia, hill country, southern feel.
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Old 10-11-2010, 01:11 AM
 
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New Orleans is like a European city located in the United States. No other cities in the USA are like New Orleans that I've ever come across. Not even close. New Orleans has its own "feel".

It is located in the South. It is Southern. I'm not sure what you mean by "Southern".

I will say this, nothing in Mississippi or Alabama is anything like New Orleans other than being in the South.
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:33 PM
 
Location: Pereira, Colombia
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Unlike North Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida Panhandle, etc New Orleans is not a Anglo-Saxon Protestant city. The accents have absolutely nothing in common with the Bible Belt cities either. I always cringe when I hear T.V. shows supposedly in New Orleans where people have thick Alabama accents.. no one talks like that here!

There is no one true definition of "Creole", but the most official one basically means "one who is native to this land", referring to the offspring of people who settled here during French and Spanish rule. This cultural mixture started as mostly French and African, but with Native American and Spanish as well. That Catholic backbone spurred newer waves of immigration under the US flag, when huge numbers German Catholics, Irish and Italians started coming here in the late 1800's/early 1900's. Compare this to much of the Bible Belt, where people of Scots-Irish, British, German Protestant, etc. descent live.

You may hear Cajun zydeco music blaring from stores in the French Quarter, but New Orleans isn't Cajun, either. The Cajun culture predominates the area west of New Orleans known as Acadiana, with Lafayette as its main city. Cajun names/accents can be heard in some spots just 20 miles outside of New Orleans, but it becomes truly dominant further west. New Orleans and Acadiana share a love for family and festivals, eat similar foods, and are both majority Catholic, but there are differences between the two "cousins". Hope that helped.
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Old 10-11-2010, 06:59 PM
 
Location: Bay View, Milwaukee
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All of this does help, though it sounds like the character of New Orleans might vary according to neighborhood, with some areas being more culturally distinct and other areas being more of a blend between culturally distinct New Orleans culture and traditional Gulf Coast "Southern" culture.

I use "Southern" in quote marks because I don't necessarily want to define the word, but perhaps it involves some of the following things:

* a sense of culturally belonging to the South, even as an anomaly amid historical Protestant culture;
* an awareness, often seen throughout the South, of family history and kinship ties (esp. in the South) as crucial to identity (e.g., twelfth-generation southerners);
* the presence, despite NOLA's Catholic and European heritage, of evangelical Protestantism (I noticed that there's a Baptist Seminary on St. Charles, and perhaps the African-American population is primarily Protestant);
* a profile of race and class relations that derives directly from historic (rural and urban) patterns associated with the South (social stratification based on heritage, land ownership, etc.);
* cultural elements historically linked to the South, such as music (jazz, blues, gospel, etc.) and food (meat-and-threes, Soul Food, regional ingredients, etc.)
* linguistic features-- I've heard about "yat" and other variations, but how far does it extend? Do the African-Americans in NOLA speak more like neighboring Southerners, or do they also exhibit a distinct way of speaking?

A couple of these are not uniquely Southern, but have specific features linked to the South.

In any case, it's a fascinating topic to me, yet it's hard for me to tell if New Orleans' uniqueness is primarily a French Quarter/Garden District thing, or maybe a white European-descended thing, or if it really permeates the whole city--including areas that aren't considered particularly European or "quaint."
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Old 10-11-2010, 08:01 PM
 
Location: Pereira, Colombia
1,213 posts, read 2,127,959 times
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I think you have most of your answers, but check out this video on youtube about New Orleans accents. It's a little dated but it gives you a better idea of the cultural and racial climates. The black community definitely doesn't talk like other cities in the Deep South. In fact, I'll go places like Monroe, Shreveport, Mississippi, etc and get a real kick out of the way folks talk up there. Especially in the black community. I went to a Taco Bell in Shreveport and the woman asked me if I wanted some Hot "Sawce" in this crazy twang that was half redneck half African-American!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpFDNTo4DNg
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:20 AM
 
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When I was living in the Nashville area in 06 due to Katrina, many people there thought my accent sounded New Yorkish.
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