I saw an inquiry recently from the Internet wondering what does it mean when people in New Orleans call each other “cher.” First of all never, never, never have I ever heard anyone in New Orleans use the word “cher.” I mean, I heard it in French class OK, but it’s not an expression that’s used in the city of New Orleans at all.
This is just some more inaccuracy that the Hollywood film machine wants to throw into the mix like the main character in the now defunct TV show said he was going to a gumbo party. We don’t have gumbo parties!!! What the heck would that be anyway? I’m sitting hear practically laughing at the absurdity of this. You might go to a party and they might serve gumbo but there ain’t no such a thing as a gumbo party.
Same with “cher.” I know, I know, Dennis Quaid used it in the movie The Big Easy but I think he was supposed to be some kind of Cajun-Orleanian half-breed of something. And at least he tried some reasonable facsimile of an accent that wasn’t your generic Southern drawl totally inaccurate for this area. So kudos to him.
First of all “cher” means “dear” in French. It can also mean expensive. But that’s not how it’s used in this sense. You will most often hear it in the Cajun country and you won’t hear it very often like I used to when I was growing up with my aunts, uncles and grandmas out in St. Martinville.
My great aunt used to use it all the time. Like “come ta dinnah, cher” or something like that. It’s just a term of endearment. And it really wasn’t cher so much as “chea.” Like “Caw, it’s hot out dere, chea.”
I believe that one of the New Orleans characters in Princess and the Frog used the word cher. It sounds so out of place like a big clanging bell in a china shop. The Cajun characters in the movie used it which was accurate.
So now Hollywood has America thinking that people in New Orleans call each other “cher.” Tain’t true, t’aint true. And if you are ever hear anyone in this city use it you can bet their from the Cajun country not the Crescent City.