TBR Tuesday: Cajun Pronunciation Edition

photo by ELI Tony, licensed by Deposit Photos

photo by ELI Tony, licensed by Deposit Photos

Happy Tuesday! “Happy” because I got an almost-clean bill of health from the doctor yesterday. The pneumonia is gone–yay! So why do I still wheeze occasionally, I ask. Turns out I have developed adult-onset asthma. Pffft. No big deal.

So, besides day-job-from-hell work that wouldn’t go away even while I’ve been on sick leave, I’ve had some interesting writing-related assignments, the most recent of which is to develop a pronunciation guide for the person who’ll be reading the audiobook for WILD MAN’S CURSE (written as Susannah Sandlin). I’ve never had any input on the audiobooks before, so this is a cool thing. Here’s what I have so far: see how many you can pronounce (answers at end). Remember, this is not how the French would necessarily say the French-sounding words, but how the true Cajuns would say them:

Eva Savoie (character)

Isle de Jean Charles (place name)

LeRoy (character)

Celestine (character)

Broussard (character last name)

Terrebonne (place name)

Atchafalaya (place name)

Montegut (place name)

Doucet (character last name)

un bon garde-chasse (phrase)

Dulac (place name)


Lac Chien (place name)

Cocodrie (place name)

Billiot (character last name)

Houma (place name)

Bossier City (place name)

How’d you do? Here are answers!

Eva Savoie = A-vuh SA-VOY (Eva with a long a, as in day)

Isle de Jean Charles = Ill-duh-jahn-SHARL (“charles” is one syllable)

LeRoy = Le-ROY

Celestine = CELL-less-teen

Broussard = brew-SARD

Terrebonne Parish (Louisiana has parishes instead of counties) = TER-ruh-bone

Atchafalaya = AT-chuh-fuh-LYE-uh (initial A is soft, as in cat)

Montegut = MON-tuh-gue

Doucet = doo-SET

un bon garde-chasse = un bon gard-SHAHSS

Dulac = DEW-lack

Lac Chien = Lac SHAYNE

Cocodrie = KO-kuh-dree

Billiot = BILL-ee-yot

Houma = HOE-muh

Bossier City = BOE-zyer City

Any surprises there? Share which one you butchered the worst (I’m begging on Montegut) for a chance at a TBR mystery book!



33 thoughts on “TBR Tuesday: Cajun Pronunciation Edition

  1. I have a niece called Eva, but we don’t say A-vuh… I think… I’m having difficulty translating American phonetics to dutch phonetics :-p

  2. WOW! I think I butchered most of them. With Atchafalaya and Montegut being the worst. When reading I just use my own interpretation and move on. A lot of this in the fantasy genre.

    • For a long time, I thought “Montague” and “Montagut” were two different places :-). I do the same thing with books I read, and I think that’s fine. But I do want the audiobook to have the correct pronunciation!

    • Since Cajun French came from the french of the Canadian “Acadians,” it’s probably closer to Canadian French than what one would hear in France…only it’s got that Southern twang. “Cocodrie” is French for alligator, and I don’t think you guys have any in Canada!

    • Yes, I think the phonetics are hard to get across. Your first language is French, so your pronunciation would probably be closer to what these words originally were supposed to sound like. Except Atchafalaya, which is a Native American word, I think.

  3. @Suzanne: I think the Dutch Eva is a mix of both – A-vah (with the first A meant as the sound as in day.)

  4. I could not get my mind and tongue around Atchafalaya. I’m sure I had a few extra l’s in there.

    • That’s probably the hardest one (although Montegut is the trickiest), unless I throw Tchoupitoulas in there, but I think that one’s unique to New Orleans. For good measure, it’s CHOP-uh-TOO-lus. 🙂

  5. It was Eva’s last name Savoie that threw me. I was pronouncing it like the French region. Savoie pronounced Sah vwah.

  6. Mongetut and Bossier City were the ones that surprised me — the endings tripped me up for sure!