All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Maine Francophones

Ray Routhier writes in today's Maine Sunday Telegram of organizations and events aimed at encouraging Mainers to speak the language of their French ancestors.
The latest census indicated that 23 percent of all Mainers claim some French heritage, though scholars think the actual number is probably higher.

But for generations of Mainers, speaking in French or with a French accent was a source of embarrassment.

"When I showed up in Augusta (as a state representative) 20 years ago, a woman came up to me and said her name was LaChance, but she whispered it. I thought 'How appalling,' but a lot of us had been taught to act like that," said Judy Paradis, 63, from Frenchville, in northern Aroostook County. "But now there is a renaissance, the younger generation is getting it back." [Link]

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