Louisiana has a very colorful history. Many people don’t know that Louisiana’s history is still closely relevant today. You might notice it purely in the culture. Or perhaps, in the cities; however, if nothing else, you will most definitely notice its history by the names you see when you visit Louisiana. Many cities, towns, rivers, lakes, and even swamps in Louisiana are named either for French, Spanish, and/or Native American words. Below is a list of some Louisiana words I’d be surprised if you could spell when you leave Louisiana and explanation about why you should consider visiting them.
1.) Atchafalaya – Atchafalaya (pronounced ah-chafa-laya) is the name of Louisiana’s most famous swamp lands. The swamp is home to many of Louisiana’s flora and fauna ranging from cypress trees to alligators. There are some really great swamp tours and scenery in the area. Atchafalaya is the English version of a Choctaw Indian word “hacha falaia,” which means long river.
2.) Natchitoches – (pronounced nah-co-dish) (nah-coh-doches in Texas) Not to be confused with Nacogdoches, its sister-city in Texas, Natchitoches is a main street community in the central part of Louisiana. It has a history of being the oldest settlement of the Louisiana Purchase. The city is named in honor of the Natchitoches Indian tribe.
3.) Pointe à la Hache – (pronounced point-a-la-hash) Located in Plaquemine’s parish, Pointe à la Hache is one of the oldest settlements in Louisiana. In French, the word can be translated to signify “cape of the axe,” which has its roots from the earlier times when French explorers claimed for France.
4.) Bogue falaya – (pronounced boga-falaya) A small river in eastern Louisiana. Bogue Falaya is also named for a Choctaw Indian word.
5.) Tchoupitoulas – (pronounced chop-pit-too-las) ‘Chop’ as it is sometimes called for short, is located in the heart of beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana. It runs through the central business district and was formerly well-connected to the commerce of the Port of Orleans. Its name can trace its origins to a Native American tribe.
6.) Tchefunte – (pronounced chew-funk-te) Is another of Louisiana’s rivers. It feeds into the Lake, and it is located on the north shore directly across from New Orleans. It was once an important commercial channel.
7.) Tangipahoa – (pronounced tan-gi-fa-hoa) Tangipahoa is a Parish of Louisiana. Thanks to the French heritage in Louisiana, Louisiana is the only state in the Union that does not have the county system to organize its districts.
8.) Pontchartrain – (pronounced pon-cha-train) Lake Pontchartrain is one of, if not the, largest inland seas in the world. Lake Pontchartrain is not actually a lake because it connects to the ocean. The water in the lake varies in salinity, most is brackish. One of the world’s largest over water bridges is also found over the lake. It is 24 miles long and takes a driver from the north shore to New Orleans. Although the lake formerly was named Okwata for “wide water” by local Native Americans, it has since been changed to Pontchartrain; Pontchartrain is a French surname, named after one of the early colonist.
9.) Bogue Chitto – (pronounced boga-chitto) Yet another of the many waterways of Louisiana, Bogue Chitto is a river in east Louisiana that runs between Mississippi and Louisiana. It is also the name of a national park. Bogue Chitto is a name with Choctaw origins.
I hope that you enjoyed hearing a few of the many strange names that you can find in Louisiana. Many of the names above parts of places that are really great to visit and get a feel for the real Louisiana. If you do end up having trouble spelling these words, don’t feel bad. It is still a challenge for most natives to spell them at times! Hopefully, you learned a few Louisiana words today!
What do you think?
Which is your favorite Louisiana word? Which do you find the hardest to pronounce?
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