Thursday, March 4, 2010
Reading the Obituaries
A writer friend of mine begins her novel with an obituary. Which got me thinking about obituaries. In Pennsylvania, I routinely read the obituaries because I wanted to know if anyone I knew had died. I worked for over 25 years in healthcare, so I often recognized the names of long-time patients, sometimes an elderly person from church, or a neighbor. I haven't lived in Louisiana long enough to know very many people, certainly no one whose name I'd expect to find in an obituary. But I read them every day anyway. Maybe out of habit. But more, I think, because I'm fascinated by the names. Dupuis (dew-pwee), Soileau (swallow), Arceneaux (eaux = O). The combinations of letters and their corresponding pronounciations both delight and boggle my French-lacking mind. Gauthreaux, Robicheaux, Babineaux, Broussard. Can you believe those vowels? How do the kindergarten kids learn how to spell these names? I have good friends in Pa. named Szwaczkowski. Those kids would understand. One would be hard-pressed to find names like Wozniak or Kasinski, common Pittsburgh names, here in SWLA. But Duhon and Fontenot might as well be Smith and Jones. Guillory, Guidry, Hoffpauir, Sonnier, LeLeux, Richard (ree-shard). The list goes on and on. Birth announcements and my sons' school yearbooks excite me the same way. These names are tricky. Aucoin and Ardoin (something like are-dwan, but I always get it wrong.) Farque, Farquhar, and Fusilier. Comeaux and Cormier. One of my favorites is LeBlanc, where you both pronounce the c and don't pronounce the c at the same time. I truly believe one would have had to been born here to get it just right. Boudreaux and Thibodeaux are two classic Cajun names. There are a whole slew of Boudreaux/Thibodeaux jokes, but I haven't lived here long enough to know if they're in bad taste or all in good fun. If you know for certain no one will take offense, feel free to post one in comments.