Editor’s Note: The following series “Language and Culture in New Orleans” is a week-long series curated by Lucien Mensah as part of the Digital Research Internship Program in partnership with ViaNolaVie. The DRI Program is a Newcomb Institute technology initiative for undergraduate students combining technology skillsets, feminist leadership, and the digital humanities.
This curation of articles was created to recognize the deep ties with AAVE and Black culture into the mainstream and point out the linguistic influence within New Orleans and bring recognition to it. AAVE, or African American Vernacular English, is a dialect of American English molded by Black people’s experiences during slavery, as various communities of Africans were forced to the Americas. As AAVE terms become popular online, many non-black people use and appropriate these terms with little knowledge about where they are from or what they mean to their native speech community. As each article this week is presented, readers are encouraged to think about their vocabulary and whether AAVE is actively used – and are you aware of the words you’re using that might be “slang”?
This article discusses the phrase, “chile anyways” which, the author states, is used by people of color and people in the South. The etymology and usage are discussed, with some fun facts. This was originally published on NolaVie on Januaru 8th, 2021.
Phrase: “Chile anyways”
My phrase (“chile anyways”) is a phrase used by people typically of color or people from the South. It’s not the typical style of slang because with slang you would think that the words don’t mean exactly what they’re defined as. But in my phrase, the words (almost exactly) mean what they refer to. My phrase is typically used to dismiss someone or something someone said.
Take this scene for example: I’m in the middle of a conversation; someone rudely interrupts said conversation. The conversation comes to a halt, but the person is still talking as if nothing happened. Finally the person stops talking and expects a response. To dismiss said person someone would say, “Chile, anyways.”
When looking up the etymology of “chile,” I found out that the word derives from Old English and means: “a childish person.” This has influenced the use of this phrase because it means the exact same thing — the only difference being the spelling. The word “anyways” comes from Middle English and means “used to continue or resume the thread of a story.” This has influenced the use of this phrase because, once again, it means the exact same thing. The words would come together to form the meaning: “to dismiss a childish person and resume the thread of a conversation.”
Fun Fact about “anyways”: The word is sometimes confused, as it can be seen in three different ways — anyway, anyways, and any way. The word anyway means: “a disregard factor that stands in the way of a purpose.” The word any way means: “however possible.” The word anyways means: “To signal a transition to a new topic or to resume discussion.”
Fun Fact about “chile”: It became popular when Nicki Minaj (a famous female rapper) used it in a Instagram live. Although she brought popularity to it, the word has been in the Black community for years.
This piece is part of the “Language Lab” series where Bard Early College (BECNO) students investigate the etymology of modern phrases to identify their roots.This series is part of the composition course taught by Dr. Jessie Morgan-Owens and Kelley Crawford.