LAFAYETTE – College football in south Louisiana kicks off this weekend, and fans of both the Ragin’ Cajuns and LSU Tigers will be sporting signs and apparel with a familiar word.
Go Cajuns…Go Tigers…but with the “French-ified” G.E.A.U.X.
You don’t have to go far in South Louisiana to see it.
Restaurants, government websites, and of course, sports teams all use the phrase ‘Geaux.’
And why wouldn’t they? Though the term has been used for a couple decades now. It’s still more popular than ever.
“As long as I can remember we’ve had ‘Geaux’ shirts, Geaux license plates, Geaux decals; everything with ‘G-E-A-U-X’ has been a hot seller,” says Ashley Denais, manager of Hot Louisiana Stuff in Lafayette.
It’s no secret that South Louisianans embrace their French heritage, even putting their own unique spin on things as simple as a two letter word.
“It’s one of the things that distinguishes us here, you know, it’s our sort of connection,” says Barry Ancelet, a former professor of French and Francophone studies at UL, “It’s actually not a French word. It’s a French-ish word.”
The term, of course, comes from the prevalence of E-A-U-X, pronounced ‘O’, in many Cajun last names (like this reporter’s). But many linguists point to the fact that ‘Geaux’ should be pronounced a little differently.”
Adds Ancelet, “Linguists pointed out early on that people outta be yelling, ‘JEAUX Cajuns,’ but of course, we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. Let’s just yell ‘Geaux Cajuns.'”
Fans from LSU and UL argue about who originally coined the term for their respective sports programs.
Just like that debate may never end, the use of G-E-A-U-X will continue to Geaux on here in South louisiana.
“It’s wonderful that south Louisiana is seeking to distinguish itself based on it’s french heritage,” continues Ancelet, “I think it’s cool.”