What’s a lagniappe you ask?

A lagniappe is a small gift a merchant gives a customer… for example, you buy 12 doughnuts and they give you a 13th one free. It’s a little unexpected gift from the merchant.

The word is pronounced "lanyap" and comes from Louisiana French.

Mark Twain refers to it back in 1883 in his book "Life on Mississippi:  "We picked up one excellent word–a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word–‘lagniappe’. They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish–so they said.

According to Wikipedia, lagniappe does come from Spanish and before that from Quechua, an Incan language:

…the word entered English from Louisiana French, in turn derived from the American Spanish phrase la ñapa (‘something that is added’ ). The term has been traced back to the Quechua word yapay (‘to increase; to add’). In Andean markets it is still customary to ask for a yapa when making a purchase… In Louisiana, the custom has become a traditional gracious gesture, with the bonus typically unexpected – a ‘little something extra’ not expected or demanded.

Wouldn’t it be nice if most stores gave a lagniappe!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 6:21 pm and is filed under Cajun, Cajun French, Countries & Cultures, French, Languages, Peru, Quechua, Spain, Spanish, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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