Please correct me if I am wrong.
I have admired Lagniappe since moving to the Bay Minette area several years ago. It impressed me as an interesting read with balanced articles and witty editorials and commentary. However, proper pronunciation of the newspaper’s name escaped me until someone who knew better corrected me.
For the longest time I called it “LAG-KNEE-APP-EE” just like it looks. Deep down inside I think I knew that was incorrect. I knew that the spelling had a French or Cajun derivation, but I went on murdering the name for months, until finally, somebody, and I don’t remember who, finally stopped my verbal assault and told me the correct pronunciation is “LAN-YAP.”
I didn’t believe them.
I mean, come on, how do you get “LAN-YAP” from the spelling “Lagniappe?” It seems that all sorts of entomological rules were broken to make that happen. However, after asking a couple of other sources (because a good journalist gets at least three sources of information to check important facts), I came to the conclusion that “LAN-YAP” is the proper articulation of the word.
However, that begged the question: What the heck does it mean?
Going back to my reliable sources, I was told it had roots in Southern Louisiana and/or Southeastern Texas. Further research confirmed that it had French and/or Spanish heritage and referred to a small gift that was often given to customers as a way of thanking them for their purchases. It was a bonus, a gratuity, an unexpected benefit.
Ah, now the picture was complete and the subtitle under the name “Lagniappe” on top of the page made sense: “Something Extra For Mobile.” Indeed, learning how to pronounce the word and learning what it meant made me appreciate the paper even more. It was something I looked forward to each week, that little something extra in life, standing out as a shining example of a solid local paper that informed, entertained and inspired me.
So it was with great enthusiasm that I read Rob Holbert’s column announcing that a Baldwin edition was initiated and already in print! I rushed to the closest pickup point (Greer’s in Bay Minette – the only place I knew of that had them in the newsstand) and lo and behold, there it was, chock full of Baldwin-specific news.
It was a bold move, in my humble opinion, starting a new print product in these digital days. But I also learned the Mobile and Baldwin editions are available online for $1.50 a week, and for $2 per week, you can get it online and delivered in print to your mailbox; a pittance to pay for the wealth of information contained therein.
I was further inspired to offer my services as a Baldwin County correspondent, suggesting several feature ideas and standing ready to report news as directed. I was elated when my offer was accepted, and I now find myself as a contributor to, and an even more avid reader of, that Something Extra For Baldwin.
Now I find myself being a disciple of the word LAN-YAP as I call around and talk with people about the paper. I’ve discovered that I am not the only one who is (or, was, in my case) challenged to speak the word correctly. In an unscientific survey I’ve found that at least four out of five people mispronounce the word, with at least as many variations that stray from the correct elocution.
I will make it my mission to ensure that everyone on the east end of the Bay knows there is a new Something Extra For Baldwin edition of Lagniappe and that it’s not “LAG-KNEE-APP-EE” but “LAN-YAP!”
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