Cultural identity and language: the narratives of people of color with Creole descent in south Louisiana
Because of their mixed descent and because of changes throughout history, people of color with Creole lineage have different ways of identifying themselves culturally. Building on Dubois and Melançon (2000), this study explores how historically Creole people identify themselves culturally and the factors influencing their claims of identity. It also examines the linguistic patterns of people in this group and whether differences in language use are linked to differences in claims of cultural identity. In order to address these issues, interviews and narratives were recorded with twelve participants, six from Opelousas, Louisiana and six from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The interviews were used to find how participants culturally identify themselves and why they identify in that manner. With an impressionistic transcription of the narratives, the researcher analyzed the linguistic patterns of participants with attention to several phonetic and structural characteristic of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Cajun Vernacular English (CVE), and Creole Vernacular English (CrVE). The majority of the participants in the study claimed multiple cultural identities, including African American, Creole, and American. Their choice of identities was influenced by factors like age, upbringing, and region. Additionally, the results indicated that there were some differences in participants' linguistic patterns, but these differences connected more to the region in which a person lives than to the identity they claim.