The inclusion of these words is a step toward acceptance of African American Vernacular English as a legitimate dialect.
According to a recent update from Dictionary.com, hundreds of new words, including finna and chile, have been added as legitimate entries. These words originated from AAVE, also known as African American Vernacular English, and have been a part of the dialect for decades. Dictionary.com describes finna as “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.”
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Similarly, the site describes chile as “a phonetic spelling of child, representing dialectal speech of the Southern United States or African American Vernacular English.” 450 new words were added to Dictionary.com during this most recent update, and more than 7,600 dictionary entries were updated or changed. Many of the changes focus on race, identity, and the COVID-19 crisis.
“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,” John Kelly, managing editor at Dictionary.com said. “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.”
Some of the other new terms added include AAL: African American Language, telework, and superspreader.