New Orleans is a very cosmopolitan and multiethnic city. French is still spoken in Southern Louisiana by two very different groups, the French Creole and the Cajuns. Despite what many people believe, the Creole were actually the original French-speaking group in Louisiana settling the port of New Orleans in 1718. French remained the dominant language in New Orleans for more than a century, well into the 1850’s. Even after the second half of the 19th century when the Spanish controlled Louisiana French remained the dominant language in the area.
The Cajuns, meanwhile, immigrated to Southern Louisiana in the 1760s as refugees from Eastern Quebec. Descended from the Acadians, the Cajuns now number over 1 million people in Southern Louisiana! If you happen to speak French, listen closely to Cajun speakers and you are sure to recognize many words. But Cajun French has evolved away from the French spoken in Europe and Canada since the Acadians made their great Southern trek more than 200 years ago, and the language has become something unique–just like our city!