‘Finna’ and ‘Chile’ added to Dictionary.com to reflect growing diversity

·4 min read

Acknowledging (AAVE) and other words tied to marginalized communities is often seen as a sign of signaling mainstream legitimacy

Language has always evolved over time, and this month in an effort to reflect the growing diversity of this country, Dictionary.com has included several African American Vernacular English words like “finna” and “chile,” to their database.

For those who are unfamiliar, (AAVE) “is a designation used by linguists to describe a North American dialect of English used by some Black people. Like older names for this dialect, the full term is usually used only once or twice to introduce it in writing or speech; thereafter the abbreviation (AAVE) is used, with the result that the abbreviation is far more common than the expanded form, especially in the fields of linguistics, sociolinguistics, and sociology.”

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According to CNN, the online dictionary site has now included, “450 brand-new entries, 7,600 updated entries, and 94 new definitions on existing entries — with a focus on race and identity, and Covid-19’s effect on culture.”

Acknowledging (AAVE) and other words tied to marginalized communities is often seen as a sign of signaling mainstream legitimacy and also acknowledging how white supremacy is often baked into what language we deem acceptable.

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“We have added such terms as BIPOC, Critical Race Theory, and overpolice, which have risen to the top of the national discourse on social justice,” said John Kelly, managing editor at Dictionary.com, in a statement Thursday. “Another significant decision was to remove the noun slave when referring to people, instead using the adjective enslaved or referring to the institution of slavery. This is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure we represent people on Dictionary.com with due dignity and humanity.”

The website also included newly popularized terms relating to life during COVID-19, including an entry for the video-calling tool, Zoom.

What made it on the list?

Below is just a smattering of the words and phrases that made the cut on the website, reflecting how America\ has changed since March of last year.

Race and identity terms

AAL – An acronym for African American Language.

Antiracism – A belief that rejects “supremacy of one racial group over another and promotes racial equality in society.”

BIPOC – An acronym for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

Chile – “A phonetic spelling of child, representing dialectal speech of the Southern United States or African American Vernacular English.”

Critical Race Theory – “A conceptual framework that considers the impact of historical laws and social structures on the present-day perpetuation of racial inequality.”

Finna – “A phonetic spelling representing the African American Vernacular English variant of fixing to, a phrase commonly used in Southern U.S. dialects to mark the immediate future while indicating preparation or planning already in progress.”

Reparation – “Monetary or other compensation payable by a country to an individual for a historical wrong.”

Structural racism – Also called institutional racism or systemic racism, this refers to a policy or system of government that is rooted in racism, the website says.

COVID-19 and culture terms

Doomscrolling – “The practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad.”

Sourdough – “Fermented dough retained from one baking and used as leaven, rather than fresh yeast, to start the next.”

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Superspreader – “A person who spreads a contagious disease more easily and widely than the average infected person.”

Telework – “To work at home or from another remote location.”

Unmute – “To turn on (a microphone, a speaker, or audio), especially after it has been temporarily turned off or when muted sound is the default.”

Zoom – “The brand name of a software application and online service that enables voice and video phone calls over the internet.”

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