Nicholls Professor Helps Compile Book on Louisiana’s Languages

Nick Spitzer Fletcher Lecture 2016 (Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University) 10/27/16

THIBODAUX, La. — You can take a tour of the history of Louisiana’s linguistic heritage in a new book co-edited by a Nicholls State University professor. 

“Language in Louisiana: Community and Culture” was compiled by Dr. Shana Walton, a Nicholls associate professor of English, and Dr. Nathalie Dajko, an assistant professor of anthropology at Tulane University. Dr. Walton also contributed to two of the introductions in the book. Nicholls’ Dr. Robin White, associate professor of English and French, wrote a chapter on the history of French education in New Orleans.

The book is a collection of essays from faculty who have completed research in language in Louisiana. 

“Language in Louisiana” explores French, including the struggle against the language’s demise and its varieties throughout the state. It also looks into Spanish, which like French has an old history in Louisiana. African, indigenous and other European languages like English are also explored.

“Language is important because it is the fundamental, most basic tool humans have,” Dr. Walton said. “The language we use is a basic way that we present ourselves, our values and our community to the world. We use language to shape our world, and language shapes how we see the world. Language binds communities together. Language tears communities apart.”

The book will be featured at the Louisiana Book Festival and conferences for the American Folklore Society, the Linguistic Society of America and the American Dialect Society.

“‘Language in Louisiana: Community and Culture’ demonstrates that we have faculty with expertise in the area of linguistics,” said Dr. Ellen Barker, language and literature department head. “Other scholars will read and learn from this book and may want to study the area too, and in addition to scholars, potential students may wish to come to Nicholls to study with Dr. Walton and to learn more about the Bayou Region and language.”

Dr. Walton is the co-editor of another book, “Ethnic Heritage in Mississippi: The Twentieth Century.”

University Press of Mississippi published the 304-page, 16-chapter book.


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