How to Sound Like a Local When You Move to Baton Rouge

Like other towns and cities within the state, Baton Rouge has a language all its own. Here are some phrases and words you’ll want to know to feel right at home with the locals.

Red Stick

One of many nicknames, this is the English translation from the original French name of the city. The name originated when French explorers noted a red cypress tree that marked a boundary between Native American tribal territories.

Geaux Tigers

The most popular phrase in Baton Rouge. LSU football is something locals eat up year-round. You’ll notice that “go” is spelled with “eaux,” a nod to the Cajun roots around the city. And pretty much anything that ends in “o” can and will be spelled with “eaux.”

Death Valley

So just where do the Tigers play football? Some say Tiger Stadium, but the venue is properly known as Death Valley. Bear Bryant said when he played there, it was like being inside a drum. At capacity, it fits more than 102,000 fans, making it the seventh largest stadium in the world.

Mike

Mike is the name of LSU’s tiger mascot. He is the only live tiger living on a college campus in the country, and he has his own habitat with caretakers and a veterinarian. He is a bit of a celebrity, and he lives a far better life than 95% of the students.

The North Gates

Outside of LSU is one of the city’s most popular areas — the North Gates. On West Chimes Street alone, you have long-time local businesses such as Highland Coffees and Inga’s. A little farther down that road, you have an ultimate fan favorite in the 24/7 diner Louie’s Cafe. Also in the area is the restaurant and bar The Chimes. Right next door to that is one of the more popular concert venues, Varsity Theatre.

Y’all

In Lafayette, some say “sha” or “couillon” as a term of endearment. In New Orleans, you’ll hear “dahlin’.” In Baton Rouge, the standard, and safe, option to talk to a group of people is “y’all.”

Laissez les bon temps rouler

In south Louisiana, you’ll hear this in commercials, in parades and see it on billboards. This is a Cajun French phrase for “let the good times roll.”

Lagniappe

Another Cajun French word, lagniappe means “a little something extra” or a “bonus.” Say it like lan-YAP.

Pinch the tail and suck the head

The easy, two-step way to eating crawfish. You pinch the tail of crawfish to pull the meat out, then suck the head to get all the spices the crawfish has been boiling in. Always pinch the head. Suck the head once, but it’s not a crime if you don’t do it regularly. Though you might looked down upon.

Throw me somethin’ mister

These are four most important words when attending a Mardi Gras or (in Baton Rouge’s case) the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Parish

While the rest of the country designates state areas as counties, Louisiana instead calls regions by another name — parishes.

The old bridge

One of two bridges crossing the Mississippi River, this is formerly known as the Huey P. Long bridge.

The Atchafalaya, or Basin bridge

Those commuting to and from Lafayette might often lament the traffic over “the Atchafalaya” or on the Basin bridge. This nearly 20-mile bridge of Interstate 10 stretches over the Atchafalaya Basin. The speed limit is 60 miles per hour, and yes, it is strictly enforced.

Airline

No, we aren’t talking about an actual airplane. We’re talking about Airline Highway. This road, US 61, runs from New Orleans to northwest Louisiana. You can get to pretty much every major road and section of town on Airline.

Cane’s

Chicken, chicken, what combo you pickin’? For a quick bite of fried chicken, locals love Raising Cane’s.

Spanish Town

A historic district located near the downtown area, Spanish Town is the oldest neighborhood in the city. Thanks to events like the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade, it’s also one of the most popular areas in town, too.

Tony’s

Here’s a tricky one. Tony’s could refer to Tony Chachere’s, a Cajun seasoning mix that goes well with just about anything. But closer to Baton Rouge, this also means the ever-popular Tony’s Seafood, one of the larger markets in the Gulf South serving crawfish, shrimp, boudin balls and lunch dishes.



Matthew Sigur