Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 07:49:31 -0500
From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU
Subject: Re: 'chili' or 'chile'
I have encountered no such regularity (although, as you well know, the folk
repondents you may have heard would, like all other nonlinguists, have
wanted to impose some).
Here is what I know:
chilli (Nahuatl) for the pepper itself.
Variants in both Spanish and English include (at least) chilli, chile, and
chili; I do not know about the Spanish dialectal distribution; I assume the
spellings in Spanish reflect real pronunciation differences but that they
do not in English (see just below).
I personally always say 'chili' (chilly) in English and 'chile' (CHEE-lay)
in Spanish for everything - the pepper, the dried powder, the dish (whether
soupy or thick, with (ugh!) or without (yum!) beans, etc.... I use these
pronunciations regardless of spelling.
Of course, there are North and South Chili ('chay-lie') New York (outside
Rochester), but that is another matter.
Dennis Preston (not a southwestern dialectologist)
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu
Dictionaries seem to list these as variant spellings, but I seem to
recall from a cooking class I once took in Santa Fe that 'chile' refers
to the pepper and the powder and 'chili' to some strange kind of soup
made in Texas.
Can any southwestern-savvy dialectologist come to my rescue?