Wikitongues Chiac interview

Something that readers of this blog may not know is that I am a volunteer at Wikitongues inc. which is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting stories of speakers of languages from minority or undocumented languages. Wikitongues home.

I am a regular uploader to Wikitongues, and I’ve uploaded a few videos before. Here’s my friend Valentine speaking Igbo.

Wikitongues had asked me two years ago to go to Leominster and interact with a community of French Acadians well-known in the area in order to capture some recordings of the language called Chiac. I could not find any speakers of this language until a month ago, when an Acadian named Mariette emailed me and asked to meet. Yesterday, I met them. This is Jacques and Yvette Richard talking about Jacques early days in America.

Here Yvette tells a funny story about a miscommunication that happened with some Montréalais relatives of Jacques about the French term for waterbed.

This is Mariette, a woman who I had forged a relationship with online via email. She is a bright and opinionated woman who gives amazing hugs. Her story of Acadian French oppression and discrimination in the U.S. flies in the face of many popular political narratives of European privilege, and I think that her story is important to hear.

All in all, sitting with these people around their kitchen table to hear them speak of the Acadia of their youth, and of friends and family spread all over the continent was enriching to the core. The room shook with the power of their memories. I came to record their language and nothing more, but I stayed for three hours because of the stories they had to tell. Jacques the hockey-player talked about the time where his hockey team was composed of players from Québec, Belgium, and Acadia, and it took much struggling for all three groups to understand each other. Mariette told me about the time when she jumped off a covered roof in Saint-Ignace, their home in New Brunswick and her bathing suit flew clean off– “bonne chose que c’était un temps plus simple sans le Snapchat!”

Yvette took a photo off the wall of a snow-covered farmhouse on a hill and across a river covered in a roofed bridge. This was their home in Saint Ignace on Richard road, that their family and community made for themselves years ago, which they still own but have not been to for years. Pictures of that house were all over the walls of their home. When Yvette took the photo down, everyone smiled and stared at it with a far-away fondness that struck me to the core. They had a grand-daughter in the military, and they stared at her portrait as they showed me with the same warmth and chaleur Family was so important to these people. Community meant everything. Community was authentic and dependable. I fear that fondness for true community has been lost and that word changed unrecognizably. It gave me hope to meet them, and to know that in some secret pocketed places in my land, such high regard for memory and love for family still exist.

– – –

“Mais tout le monde sait que je l’aime
Ben à me cause tout le temps des problèmes
Le Mercredi quand-ce-qu’à va au bingo
Moi j’arrive bien fatiqué,
de ma journée à travailler
Ben demain, ça va r’commencer”

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