25 Sep 2014

Paw Paw French

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NPR identifies another case of linguistic non-assimilation, one apparently on the verge of expiring.

Language lovers and locals of an isolated mining region of the Ozarks are scrambling to preserve what’s left of a dialect known as pawpaw French before it fades. The dialect once dominated this community in southeastern Missouri, but now, it is barely a whisper. …

Pawpaw French — named after a local fruit-bearing tree — is a linguistic bridge that melds a Canadian French accent with a Louisiana French vocabulary. The French originally settled Old Mines around 1723, back when the area was part of upper Louisiana. Floods of workers from Canada and Louisiana came to work the lead mines.

The dialect faded in other nearby towns like De Soto and Bonne Terre and Ste. Genevieve a long time ago. Pawpaw French persisted in Old Mines because it is much more remote.

2 Feedbacks on "Paw Paw French"

bob sykes

At one time, the entire Mississippi/Missouri/Ohio region was French as well as the entire St. Lawrence/Great Lakes region.

Mexico was momentarily French, too.

How did they screw that up?


When I was a kid rural parts of Maine were inhabited by French speaking people. Possibly they crossed the border at will and were mostly Canadians. One of these French speaking Candians possibly originally illegally in this country married my cousin and just recently passed away after 71 years married to my dear cousin. I don’t know if there are still French speaking Canadians in Maine.


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