Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 10:40:45 CST


Subject: Cajun: mixing markers

In quick reply to Peter Patrick's comments:

I was fascinated to see in Dick Heaberlin's reply ...

that he pluralizes /buku/ + /-z/. ...

"there are buku(z) of us"

I never noticed the inflection with plural /-z/ before-- is this a

regular and usual thing in, what I guess we'd have to call, Cajun


I've done a couple of studies of pluralization in Jamaican

Creole, where mesolectal speakers (maybe everyone, in fact) often use

English /-z/ and less often post-nominal /-dem/, and very occasionally

even combine them in a double plural. So I'd be interested to know

from you Cajun observers and others about this mixing of markers from

different systems...


When I'm with Cajuns, I avoid use of English as much as possible, so my

observations on Cajun English are not going to be as well informed as they

would for somebody who made this the object of study. For what it's worth,

however, I don't recall hearing a lot of pluralized _beaucoup_. It wouldn't

go against the grain, though, since other Cajun French lexical elements can

receive English inflection. For verbs, however, it appears that Eng. inflection

is added to an infinitival Fr. stem: He's out fouiller-ing with his truck.

You fouiller-ed with them no-goods all day yesterday. (fouiller `mess around,

fool around, tinker with', both examples come from Cheramie & Gill "Lexical

choice in Cajun Vernacular English" in _Cajun Vernacular English_, Ann Martin

Scott (ed.), 1992). The opposite tends not to be true. When English

lexical items are inserted into French discourse (it happens very frequently)

they tend to be stripped of all inflection, both English and French. I touch

on this in the article I mentioned earlier (in WORD, Dec. 1994) and develop

it further in a CLS-30 paper that will appear very soon in their proceedings

and also in a LAVIS-II paper, whenever that finally makes it into print,

in case anybody is interested. So use of double plural in code-mixing when

French is the matrix language is relatively infrequent: Il voit les TRUCK.

Ils vont donner les FOOD STAMP. Rarer still is inflection on an Eng. verb

stem: Il a RETIRE. J'ai DRIVE en ville.

Mike Picone

University of Alabama