By Rachel Diebel
Although New Orleans is located right in the heart of the Deep South, you won’t hear the stereotypical southern twang around The Big Easy. The city has been influenced by many different cultures throughout the years, from French to Cajun, and so has developed its own unique accent and phrases, making it sometimes difficult for outsiders to understand what is being said. Prior knowledge of even a few phrases will make your trip a much easier (and more fun) experience.
You might hear a few different accents around NOLA if you listen carefully, but knowing a few of the common local phrases can help you jump into the local culture (and, most importantly, can help you order the yummy local food the right way)!
Now laissez les bons temps rouler, everyone!
Locations and Directions
A marsh or swamp with slow-moving water
Back o’ Town
Refers to a specific location in New Orleans, near the Superdome
Nickname for New Orleans
Name for the long, narrow houses in New Orleans, where you could shoot a gun from the front door through all the rooms and it would just go out the back door
Go to sleep
Team cheer for fans of the New Orleans Saints
Gris gris (gree gree)
Voodoo good luck charm
Your immediate family
New Orleans has parishes instead of counties
A general local greeting that more or less means, “How are you doing?”
Yeah you right/F’sure
Phrases of agreement often used in conversation.
Means that you want lettuce, pickles, tomato and mayo on your sandwich (most likely a po-boy).
Large oval cake with a doll hidden inside. Whoever gets the piece with the doll buys the cake for the next party.
Shaved ice dessert
A lot! Comes from the French beaucoup and is a good word to know when ordering food!
Lagniappe (lan yap)
A little something extra thrown in to sweeten the deal, often when a person is buying something (think getting an extra cookie when you buy food to go).
Mardi Gras Phrases
Anyone in costume.
Laissez les bons temps rouler (lazay lay bon tom roulay)
Literally, “let the good times roll.” A common expression of Mardi Gras partiers.
The groups that organize Mardi Gras parades.
Groups that host the much larger parades.
Free trinkets thrown from parade floats, such as beads or toys.
The day before Mardi Gras.