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!
12/5/2017 12:03:26 pm
I am an Acadian whose brother now lives in Cajun country. Your etymology is what I have always learned. Nevertheless, Acadian and Cajun culture are very different. Wonder if weather is the cause?
12/5/2017 11:11:14 pm
As someone studying human geography for fun, I can assure you it's a myriad of factors. The climate difference is part of a larger geographical separation which caused them to grow apart as cultures, evolving from one another based on their environments. Additionally, the persisting French and Creole influences played a huge role on Cajun development, and likewise with the British in Acadia.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.