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A once prominent French Dialect spoken in the upper Mississippi River Valley of the Midwestern United States (specifically in eastern Missouri), is now nearly extinct.  Named Missouri French or”pawpaw” French after a local fruit-bearing tree, this unique melding of the Canadian French accent with some Louisiana “Creole” French vocabulary was first established when the French began settling the area in the early 18th century. French workers from the then French Canadian and Louisiana territories flowed into this remote area of the Ozarks to work local lead mines, mixing and blending their two varieties of French to create a very interesting language bridge.

Alas, time has not been kind to pawpaw French.  With more British influence steadily increasing in the area after the French and Indian war, French began to lose ground as the dominant language of the region. This led to the eventual stigmatization of the language: In the early 20th century, children were punished for speaking pawpaw French in the classroom and parents started to think twice about passing it on to the next generation.

In 1980 there were fewer than 1000 speakers of pawpaw French left in the world, and as of today a local news story reported there are fewer than 30. However, the steady decline hasn’t stopped the curiosity of linguists around the country from studying and finding an appreciation for this strange and beautiful version of French, which may prolong the language’s life for a little longer.

Although pawpaw French might not be around forever, for now we can at least enjoy this link to the past and celebrate the history and culture surrounding it.  Feel free to post your comments below or to learn more information please read the full article here.