If you’re here thinking this is a post about the singer, Cher, I’m sorry to say you’re in the wrong place. For those who want to know more, step deeper into the world of Cajun French.
Most of the time, people see the word cher and pronounce it exactly the way the singer’s name is pronounced. In Cajun French, it’s a lot different. Our cher is pronounced “sha” with a short “a”. This is one little quirk about Hollywood that irritates me to no end when they make movies about this area. Now, there’s a possibility that Creole French* speakers pronounce cher the way most people are familiar with, but that is so not Cajun.
Cher is an endearment, as most of you already know. It means “dear” but it’s also used as a verb. When I was growing up, cher was the most common word I heard. My grandfather used it, my cousin used it, and at one point, I thought this was my name.
Sample sentences you might hear in Cajun country with the word cher:
“Mais, cher! I’m so glad to see you!”
“Aw, cher t’bebe” (Aw, dear/darling little baby)
“Aw, cher” (As in you just saw the cutest puppy.)
“Cher Bon Dieu!” (Dear Good Lord!)
My mom came to me one day after reading a wildly popular author’s book and asked me if I’d ever heard two men call each other cher. I hadn’t, of course. This is a term of endearment you hear between lovers (which these two men were not, they were friends), family members, and the elderly to the young. Some people use it as a tag no matter who they talk to, kind of like some people call everyone “boo”.
So, is this a word you’re going to use (with the proper Cajun pronunciation)?