Thanks for including me in the discussion--it looks very interesting and
I am not subscribed to the ADS list. I do have a few thoughts where
Louisiana is concerned.
The issue of the influence of TV on Cajun and/or Creole would have been
more meaningful in the 1940s and 1950s than it is today, I think, because
today there would in fact be no way to separate TV influences from
interactive/ conversational influences. This is because the vast majority
of Cajuns today are English dominant and speak English every bit as
fluently as you and I do. English is their language. Cajuns (and
Indians, in the Terrebonne-Lafourche area where I worked) for whom this
is not the case are growing increasingly rare, and are already isolated
cases, exceptions to the rule. The only way TV influence could be shown
today would perhaps be with examples such as those you cite (e.g. exotic
place names like Rwanda).
Regarding the question of Standard French on TV influencing Cajun, I
imagine this is possible, but saw no evidence of it for two reasons: 1)
most TV in French is available in and around Lafayette, which is not
where I was doing my work. In Terrebonne-Lafourche there is no more
French on TV than there is here, unless one gets cable. 2) Even those
Cajuns who have cable often do not watch TV in French because they claim
not to be able to understand it. I do not see that a speech form which is
largely unintelligible to the masses would have any significant effect on
local dialects--it is only if there is intelligibility that there could
be any influence.
There is, certainly, some Standard French influence, but this comes via
the schools (many kids take French in school for a year or two) and via
the busloads of French and Canadian tourists that are in Louisiana all
So, while I don't see TV influencing Cajun speech today (Cajun French or
English), it is certain that the arrival of anglophone TV in remote areas
of Louisiana in the 40s contributed to the language shift. This claim has
been made in many minority communities, and a lot of foreigners, as you
have heard too, I'm sure, claim to have learned most of their English
from TV. But this is a somewhat different issue than the one being
discussed above, since the ADS discussion seems interested primarily in
native speakers of some dialect being influenced by the standard dialect
I would be interested to hear of some more concrete examples of influence
from TV--specific words that someone actually noted that could only have
been gotten from TV. For rare words such as Rwanda, it would not surprise
me at all if your claim is correct. I have a similar anecdote; a friend
of mine from Michigan whose parents are from Tennessee, has no Tennessee
accent of his own, but speaks perfectly good Michigan-ese, EXCEPT in some
rare words that he has probably never heard anyone but his parents say.
Two examples come to mind, 'naked' and 'bowels'. It seems to me, than,
that words that people have only heard on TV would likewise have a "TV"
pronunciation; but I have a hard time imagining how many words we're
talking about, except exotic places or high-tech technological terms. If
you have some more eamples, I'd be very interested.
By the way, I'd be interested in seeing Mike Picone's contribution, but I
don't think you sent me that one (or maybe I accidentally deleted it
without reading it). If you would forward that I'd appreciate it.
Thanks, and keep in touch!