“Chile Pepper” is Redundant

…and erroneous besides. Yes that’s quite true, reader Cynthia. All that really needs to be said is “chile.” It’s thought that Christopher Columbus himself was the first to start calling chiles “peppers” since he had no other frame of reference. Chiles certainly didn’t look like peppercorns to him (chiles are large berries and peppercorns are tiny drupes), but the effect they had on his taste buds was similar.

The compound name pretty much stuck…and I confess I still use it. Though I try to be as exact as I can in my speech, I find I frequently say “chile pepper” since when most people hear the work “chile” they think I’m saying “chili” (like the stew) and then expect an invitation to my Superbowl party.

Speaking of which, I’m completely at sea in terms of knowing who to root for in the playoffs. All the Midwestern teams are out of it, though to be honest as a (now former) Chicagoan, I’d have never been able to bring myself to cheer for the Packers.

7 thoughts on ““Chile Pepper” is Redundant”

  1. Compound names are a problem, for me at least. I don’t mind them but my family laughs at my references to “eye glasses” and “tuna fish” and “neckties”. Regarding ‘chile’ vs ‘chili’, might I suggest that inflection can help: ‘chile’ can be pronounced as Chill-lay and ‘chili’ can be pronounced as Chill-lee. That often helps. But then again, sometimes it doesn’t.

    1. But then you sound like some NPR radio announcer talking about snow in Mos-KO, millionaire Andrew Car-NAY-gee and suicide bombings in ee-RAWK. Don’t get me wrong, I like NPR, but their holier-than-thou English drives me batty. “BUFF-lo”…sheesh! They’re called “buffalo” and there’s nothing wrong with it.

      Oop….did I stray from the point?

      – Joe

  2. Lest we forget PIN numbers, too! Poor acronyms are going to be out of work soon if we keep spelling out what they are supposed to shorten. 🙂

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