You read that title right, and probably guessed its significance. The word Cajun comes from the word Acadian. The demonym for a multicultural people group in Louisiana comes from a word describing a woodsy region in eastern Canada. How? To explain, let's use history! When the British colonized the Acadian region in 1710, the people there were already loyal to France, so when the French and Indian War came about, Great Britain deported Acadian residents en masse to the thirteen colonies so as to neutralize a war threat. Those Acadian migrants eventually traveled further south to French-friendly territory and found themselves in French Louisiana. Subsequently, they settled down to create that characteristic culture we know today. The name changed because the French called Acadians Cadians, and the Acadian accent slurs ds into more of a j sound, so we ended up with Cajuns. Now, Acadia as a region gets its name from Italian Arcadia, a latinization of the Greek region arkadia, which is named after Arkas, the mythical descendent of Zeus who founded the place. If we are to go even further, my research indicates (though it is likely that this is erroneous) that Arkas is likely a Turkish name, Arkadas, which is a portmanteau of arka, meaning "back", and das, meaning "fellow". These are Proto-Turkic in origin, but tracing it even more just gets redundant and obfuscating. Now, though, you have a great idea of how convoluted good etymologies can get!
Adam Aleksic is a 220-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd