10 Words You Can Pronounce if You’re from Louisiana

There is a rich and colorful history rooted in the culture of Louisiana.  You can experience this rich Louisiana culture in the food, music and in just talking with the locals.  The rich history of Louisiana, is perhaps the most prevalent, in the colorful names of many cities, towns, rivers and even swamps.  Pronouncing these names can be challenging in Louisiana.  Typically, this can only be done, if you were born or have lived in Louisiana for at least ten years or so.

In Louisiana, many if not all of these names were derived from French, Spanish, and Native American words.  

Below is a list of some Louisiana words.  How many can you pronounce?  

  • 3 or less “You’re not from around these parts are you?”    
  • 5 to 8  “You might be a transplant but you have lived here at least 10 years”  
  • All 10  “You are from the Bayou state, a true Louisianan!  Ça c’est bon!  (That’s Good!)”

1. Atchafalaya

Atchafalaya – Pronounced ah-chafa-laya.  Atchafalaya is the name of Louisiana’s most famous swamp land.  The swamp is home to many of Louisiana’s flora and fauna ranging from cypress trees to alligators.  There are some really great swamp tours and scenery in the area.  Atchafalaya is the English version of a Choctaw Indian word “hacha falaia,” which means long river.  

2.  Natchitoches

Natchitoches- Pronounced nah-codish, or nah-coh-doches in Texas.  This name is not to be confused with Nacogdoches, its sister-city in Texas, Natchitoches is a main street community in the central part of Louisiana.  It has a history of being the oldest settlement of the Louisiana Purchase.  The city is named in honor of the Natchitoches Indian tribe.

3. Tchoupitoulas

Tchoupitoulas – pronounced CHOP-a-too-lus .  ‘Chop’, as it is sometimes called for short, is located in the heart of beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana.  It runs through the central business district and was formerly well-connected to the commerce of the Port of Orleans.  Its name can trace its origins to a Native American tribe. The Wild Tchoupitoulas were originally a group of Mardi Gras Indians formed in the early 1970s by George Landry, and photographed exclusively by Paul Howrilla at the request of George Landry. With help from local New Orleans musicians The Meters, The Wild Tchoupitoulas recorded an eponymous album, which featured the “call-and-response” style chants typical of Mardi Gras Indians.

4.  Pontchartrain

PontchartrainPronounced pon-cha-train.  Lake Pontchartrain is one of, if not the largest inland seas in the world.  Lake Pontchartrain is not actually a lake because it connects to the ocean.  The water in the lake varies in salinity, most is brackish. One of the world’s largest over water bridges is also found over the lake.  It is 24 miles long and takes a driver from the north shore to New Orleans.  Although the lake formerly was named Okwata for “wide water” by local Native Americans, it has since been changed to Pontchartrain; Pontchartrain is a French surname, named after one of the early colonists.

5. Bogue Chitto

Bogue ChittoPronounced bow-guh chit-uh.  This is yet another of the many waterways of Louisiana.  Bogue Chitto is a river in east Louisiana that runs between Mississippi and Louisiana.  It is also the name of a national park.  Bogue Chitto is a name with Choctaw origins.  Bogue Chitto derives from “bok chito”, meaning big creek in Choctaw. The phrase is used to refer to clear, swift-flowing rivers as opposed to “hatchie” which refers to a sluggish, broad, deep river. The pronunciation is close to the original Choctaw.  At Bogue Chitto State Park, visitors will experience a diversity of natural habitats on one of the most dynamic and scenic river systems in Louisiana. The 1,786-acre site includes small streams, cypress tupelo swamps, a hardwood forest, upland forests and a rolling landscape.

6. Tchefunte

Tchefuncte Pronounced chew-funk-te.   Tchefuncte is another of Louisiana’s rivers.  It feeds into the Lake, and it is located on the north shore directly across from New Orleans.  It was once an important commercial channel.  The Tchefuncte rises in northeastern Tangipahoa Parish and initially flows southward; the river is used to define part of the eastern boundary of Tangipahoa Parish and parts of the western boundaries of Washington and St. Tammany Parishes before turning southeastward into St. Tammany Parish, where it passes the city of Covington and the town of Madisonville. It collects its largest tributary, the Bogue Falaya, at Covington and flows into Lake Pontchartrain about 2 miles south of Madisonville, near the lake’s northern extremity. The Tchefuncte has been designated by the government of Louisiana as a “Natural and Scenic River.” Fairview-Riverside State Park is located along the river, upstream of Madisonville.

7. Tangipahoa 

Tangipahoa – Pronounced tan-gi-fa-hoa.  Tangipahoa is a Parish of Louisiana.  Tangipahoa Parish is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana.  As of the 2010 census, the population was 121,097.  The parish seat is Amite City, but the largest city is Hammond. Tangipahoa comes from an Acolapissa word meaning “ear of corn” or “those who gather corn.” The parish was founded in 1869. Tangipahoa Parish comprises the Hammond, LA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the New Orleans-Metairie-Hammond, LA-MS Combined Statistical Area. It is one of the Florida Parishes.

8. Grosse Tête

Grosse Tête- Pronunced gross tate.  Grosse Tête is a village in Iberville Parish, Louisiana.  Its name is French for “Big Head.”  The Village of Grosse Tete is also the smallest of the Parish’s municipalities but it has been progressive in providing services for its residents. The Village was originally incorporated in 1906, but dissolved a few years later.  It was re-incorporated in 1952, and today includes a two mile stretch of homes and businesses along Bayou Grosse Tete.

Legend has it that the Village’s name, which means “Big Head” in French, was derived from a big headed Choctaw Indian who lived and hunted in the area when it was first settled by the Acadian people.  It is a beautiful area which offers hanging moss from majestic live oak trees, green pastures with rustic fences, and the grace of the bayou.

9. Bogue Falaya 

Bogue Falaya- Pronounced bowg-falaya.   This is a small but quite long river in eastern Louisiana.  Bogue Falaya, also known as the Bogue Falaya River, is a 28-mile-long river in southeastern Louisiana in the United States.  It is a tributary of the Tchefuncte River, which flows to Lake Pontchartrain.  The river flows through an area of mixed pine-hardwood and bottomland hardwood forests on the Gulf Coastal Plain.  Bogue Falaya is named for a Choctaw Indian word. The name in Choctaw means bogu, “river,” and falaya, “long.

 10. Ouachita River


Lake Ouachita–  Pronounced  wosh-i-taw.  Ouachita Parish is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana.  As of the 2010 census, the population was 153,720. The parish seat is Monroe. The parish was formed in 1807.  Ouachita Parish is part of the Monroe, LA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Ouachita Parish was the home to many succeeding Native American groups in the thousands of years before European settlements began. People of the Marksville culture, Troyville culture, Coles Creek culture and Plaquemine culture built villages and mound sites throughout the area.  Notable examples include the Filhiol Mound Site, located on a natural levee of the Ouachita River.

How did you do?  

  • 3 or less “You’re not from around these parts are you?”   
  • 5 to 8  “You might be a transplant but you have lived here at least 10 years”  
  • All 10  “You are from the Bayou state a true Louisianan!  

No matter how you scored.  In Louisiana we say Laissez les bons temps rouler! “

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