Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What's the Plural of Chili?

I came across "chilis" in a document I was editing today and did a double-take. I could not, for the life of me, remember how it's usually written. So I looked it up.

Webster's New World says the preferred plural of chili is chilies, but also allows chilis.

And now, after a few minutes of staring at them, they all look wrong to me ...

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LL Blackwell said...

So what did you go with? I like "chilis" if it's talking about the dish and "chilies" if it's talking about the vegetable.

BTW, I hate it when words lose their meaning and just become meaningless squiggles on the page after you've thought about them too much. (Does that make sense? Like, one time in high school I wrote the word "word" a gazillion times and by the end I didn't know whether it was a word or not anymore.)

June Casagrande said...

The rule is we always go with the dictionary's preferred spelling. (For some reason, I just love being absolved of responsibility in situations like that.) So chilies it was. And, yes, I know exactly what you mean about words you've looked at too many times becoming meaningless squiggles squiggles squiggles squiggles squiggles squiggles squiggles. That's a funny word, huh? Squiggles.

: )

Robert Link said...

The word is "chile". "Chili" is a byproduct of anglo inability to pronounce the word correctly (CHEE-lay). The plural is "chiles". $.02

Robert Link said...

And the term for when words lose their meaning and just become meaningless squiggles on the page after you've thought about them too much is "satiation".

June Casagrande said...

Actually, I have to go with whatever dictionary is preferred by the style guide I'm using. I was editing in AP style, and AP's default dictionary is Webster's New World College, chili for the pepper.

But, as a "Cassagrandy", I hear what you're saying.

June Casagrande said...

Cool. Thank you!

LL Blackwell said...

Darnit. I was actually pondering this in the middle of the night and realized that my preference is not correct. And here it is!

Also, for the sake of saving what little is left of my name, I *do* recognize that chiles are not vegetables, but calling them a fruit is just awkward in its specificity.

Thanks for the word for the idea, Robert!

June Casagrande said...

I do that all the time with my column. I'll write a column about, say, "whom," and somewhere along the line I'll mention an adverb -- and I'm so focused on the "whom" issue that I don't realize that the adverb I was talking about was an adjective.

I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about all the birds whose bird cages are lined with my column just laughing at me.

Adrian Morgan said...

Well, I don't write American English, so for me it's chilli rather than chili anyway. :-)

I was going to say that the plural is chillis, but the more I think about it, the less I think there needs to be a plural at all. Two spoonfuls of chilli. Two chilli peppers. Two varieties of chilli. What do you want a plural for, anyway?

I have very Australian associations for the word "squiggle", owing to a television show that was very popular when I was a child. You deserve a glimpse into the very best of Australian culture, so here's a clip. (Ignore the French bit at the end - someone was obviously reusing an old video tape.)

June Casagrande said...

No. 1: Oh, my god, I just fell in love with Mr. Squiggle. I love the way he moves. I'll even forgive his no-way-is-that-appropriate-for-a-children's-show nose.

No. 2: I'm disappointed to report I've realized a sort of cultural association of my own: I think I've started to associate all Australian accents with the Geico gecko.

Adrian Morgan said...

#2 wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that the gecko's accent is very, very British, and not Australian at all.

For example, an Australian would never say "trustid" for "trusted (with a short "i" in the second syllable).

And then there's the way the gecko leaves off the "h" in words like "he" and "hundreds", and says "wid" for "with" and "bruva" for "brother".

So tell me, which Canadian would you like me to assume that you sound like?

June Casagrande said...

Are you callin' me a hoser, eh?

P.S. Touchez.

MG said...

Or, where I'm from, the plural of Chilli is Chillies (and possibly Chillis)


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