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Cajun French: Mais Sha Meaning

via Kyle Schwab

Growing up, my mother used to love French movies and would even share stories of her trip to Paris while in college. 

So, the language intrigued me and I even picked French over German and Spanish in high school just to communicate with her.

After all, my siblings don’t understand French, so we only used it when sharing personal things which made her my confidant.

This made it easier for me to pass all my French exams and even get to practice at home with my mum.

But my trip to the University of Louisiana changed my understanding of French.

Just like English, French has several dialects, which varies with the place you live or are visiting.

I always assumed that French is the same in the French states, but I discovered that was not the case during my first trip to Louisiana.

During my first week, I noticed the French spoken there was a bit different and the locals referred to it as Cajun French.

English is still the official language in Louisiana and everyone speaks it fluently, especially the younger generations. But the older generation speaks Cajun French and it is really interesting to listen to them talk in this amazing French dialect.

If you have been to Louisiana, then you already know that everybody mixes Cajun with English, which is why I had to learn the language.

I learned a number of common phrases, with my favorite being “cher” or ”sha.”

Another phrase that I can’t forget is “Mais sha.” The locals tend to include either of the two words in most of their sentences.

So, what does Mais sha Mean in Cajun?

“Mais” Meaning in Cajun

“Mais” means “but” in French, and in Cajun, it refers to “well then.”

Mais is used by the locals to shock or delight each other. For instance, “will you be joining me for dinner?” “Mais, oui.” This means that your guest is sure that they’ll join you for dinner.

In Cajun, “mais” is pronounced as “meh” or “may.” In Louisiana, folks who don’t speak French use it as an interjection that means “well then.”

“Sha” Meaning in Cajun

On the other hand, “sha” is quite popular and in French, it refers to “cher.”

Don’t get me wrong, “Cher” doesn’t refer to the “Goddess of Pop.”  It is a common term of respect and endearment that means “expensive” or “dear.”

It can also mean precious or babe.

In Cajun, it’s pronounced as “sha” which can be confusing to the French when chatting with the Louisiana residents.

When used in a sentence, you can say “look at that sha lady” or “hey, sha!”

So, What Does “Mais Sha” Mean in Cajun?

In French, “mais sha” means “but expensive” or “but dear.”

In cajun, it means “well then, dear,” but the meaning will vary with the situation or statement.

Therefore, you shouldn’t assume that it means “well then, dear,” you should listen to the person you’re talking to and then deduce what he/she means.  

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Kenyalogue Contributor

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