Friday, July 19, 2013

Ahnvee, coshon, and my Cajun life

The other day I found myself ahnveeing for something. The Cajun French word pronounced awn-vee means to long or hanker for something. I often have an ahnvee and just as often don’t know what I’m longing for.

As I sat quietly with my ahnvee, I started thinking about other words and phrases that I grew up saying. My family is Cajun French and Spanish, and in my younger years it was not unusual for the adults to speak French to each other. Whenever my grandmother and mother wanted to say things they did not want me and my brother to understand, they spoke in French. I only wish they had taught the language to me.

Of course, their way of speaking French had nothing to do with the way the French speak. One time when my mother and I were visiting the Oak Alley Plantation, a large group of women were vacationing from France arrived. My mother attempted to have a conversation with one of the women, but the words and pronunciations were too different for either to understand the other.

Though I’ve been gone from Louisiana for a few years, my roots are still there and I notice how quickly I slip back into the Cajun French words I grew up with. The older I get the more I realize we had our own unique way of talking.

When I was a child, everyone I knew passed the vacuum and we also passed a good time. We ate mynez (mayonnaise), put our drawz (underwear) on and petted the meenoo (cat). When something tasted good we’d say, “Mai cher (may sha) that was some good, yeh.” My godmother was my nan-nan and my godfather was my paran and I was my grandmother’s bebe (baby).

People who didn’t know what we knew were couillon (coo-yawn), which means stupid, when something was dirty it was cochon (coshawn) and we roder dayed (ro-da-dayed), which meant we ran the roads. We felt we could say anything about anyone as long as we prefaced our comment with, “Bless her heart.” Outsiders may not have understood us or our way of speaking but we all knew they were just ces’t bet (uneducated).

We also use the word “me” in many of our statements like, “I’m going to eat me some crayfish” or “I’m going to buy me some groceries.”

When I go to Louisiana to visit my momma, my family and I play Bouree (boo-ray) which is a Cajun card game, and we talk about the joie de vivre (joy in living) that is expressed in the laizze les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll) attitude of the people in that area of Louisiana.

Growing up in a large extended Cajun family was fun. Though there was a lot of pain and suffering on the inside, there was usually revelry and some form of celebration going on around me. Most weekends our home was full of family. While the children were doing their thing we could hear the sounds of laughter and fun coming from the room with the adults. We celebrated with food, drink, family stories, jokes, and games.

Very hot summer days, so humid that my clothes stuck to my body were part of life. Cockroaches that were big enough to be pets, fried frog legs for dinner, boiled crabs, crayfish and shrimp, bowls of gumbo and plates of red beans and rice were all part of my world.

(Image: Flickr member aimeeorleans licensed under Creative Commons)
I can’t think of anywhere else I would want to have grown up, because the area, the people, and the way of life were all unique. There was a time when I was embarrassed about being Cajun because we were called coon-asses. But when I grew up I fell in love with my heritage. I’m just a little Cajun girl with a license plate that says KJUNQEN (Cajun Queen) and I wouldn’t trade my heritage for anything.

Mai Cher, the universe would not be the same without you.

Peace and love ♥ Brenda

Brenda Marroy

Besides being a writer, Brenda Marroy is a facilitator of women’s groups, and writes and leads weekend seminars and workshops on communications, developing and healing relationships, and practicing mindfulness.

She is a member of the Long Ridge Writers Group and the Virginia Writers Group and has recently finished her first non-fiction book, Alchemy 365-A daily guide to personal growth and transformation. She writes a weekly blog, Streams of Consciousness. Visit her Facebook page,

Her articles have appeared in Cornucopia, Crone, The Journey Magazine, and The Goddess Pages in the UK. She can be reached at

1 comment:

  1. What a great insight into your culture! Thanks for your contribution! Checking in every day from my travels in Germany, I fond it always worth my while. Than you Scott to keep it going.