05 July 2009

Cajun Trash?

I walked into a work meeting and someone asked me "Chela, do you know what /pa do/ means?" I said no, and he couldn't believe that no one had heard his expression. Apparently no one was as Cajun as him in the room.

Having studied French, and growing up in Louisiana, I've had surprisingly little contact with Cajun French--practically none at all--only a very few expressions here and there that get eventually assimilated into the New Orleans dialect.

But this one, he said implies "white Cajun trash" but I have NO idea what words he was actually saying. I asked him and he didn't know where it came from, either.

  • pas d'eau
  • pas do
  • pas don
  • pas deux (if he really meant/if it came from /pa dœ/)
  • pas de
  • pas d'eux
  • anything else the silly Cajuns just made up...

Does anyone have a clue??


Chela said...

Lauren Christine Broussard said:

i love your language blog btw. just fyi, where i'm from we pronounce "cajun trash" poodoo/pudu. one bad thing about cajun french is that the words and pronunciation differ from region to region. i've always thought of it as "dirty-poor," but from his description i wonder if it possibly stems from poubelle (trash can), but it probably comes from pauvre (poor). don't know where the /du/do/ comes from though.

Chela said...

Lauren Christine Broussard said:

hey my cousin says it means "trash bird." pouldu or something like that.
we couldn't find anything to explain it further
i wouldn't stress too much about trying to link it to something proper though. as you said, cajun often just make stuff up. :)

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the River Parishes and we used the term to mean "White Trash", dirty, unkempt. When my dad didn't clean up outside and left junk in the yard, we'd tell him he was being padu, pronounced, "pas deux"... Don't know why. "pas" in French is used in the negative, so I'm thinking "not", but have no idea where the second part of the phrase could come from. My mom and I were talking about it today and trying to figure out the meaning. I'll ask my maw maw later. She's 91 and speaks Cajun.

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