It’s December’s end at my place in Abita Springs, Louisiana. My family elected to not share gifts this year. That was fine with me. The presents that I received were a few small items from students and coworkers. I also helped myself to navel oranges from my mother’s tree that I picked on a ladder from the highest branches It’s been a merry little Christmas.
Oh yes, another December gift was LSU clobbering Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl yesterday, 63-28. We’re on our way to a national championship. Our quarterback, Joe Burrow, won the Heisman trophy this year. The coach, Ed Orgeron, is also enjoying his time in the limelight. If you haven’t heard Coach O, as he is often called, you are missing a treat. He’s got the Cajun cadence of someone born and raised on the bayou. Here’s a clip of Orgeron speaking after a win earlier this year against the arch nemesis of LSU football, the reviled team from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Judge for yourself if the accent is out of the norm.
Coach Orgeron’s way of speaking is not odd to my ears. I’m a native of southeast Louisiana. Most all of my family speaks with a bit of Cajun in their voices, as well as a smattering of French words and phrases thrown in.
Coach O’s speech drew the curiosity of a Washington Post writer, Chuck Culpepper, He explained in fine detail the language peculiarities of Coach O’s diction. For a change, someone actually wrote an accurate and entertaining piece about our language and region. Culpepper writes better than I can:
Listen meticulously to the lionized voice of Ed Orgeron, and you might think you hear the gators sloshing, the mosquitoes buzzing, the oil-rig helicopters chuffing. You might picture the muskrats out swimming just before dawn, the Spanish moss hanging, the crawfish puffing through their gills, the shrimp trawlers’ outriggers above the bayou. You might even detect the French and the Southern in their singular dance.
This is December’s end for me in Louisiana: enjoying a few Christmas presents, some freshly picked citrus along with football. Coach O’s speech is lagniappe.