Advertising
Advertising

North vs. South California Expressions (And Why to Watch What You Say)

North vs. South California Expressions (And Why to Watch What You Say)

I feel oddly qualified to write about California expressions, not only because I hail from California, but because I’ve lived in both its Northern and Southern regions. More specifically, I grew up in the latter and went to college in the former. To be honest, I didn’t  notice too much of a difference between the two. In fact, I’d say there’s more that ties NorCal and SoCal together than drives them apart. But there are some stark differences when it comes to the way people speak. Indeed, with some NorCal- and SoCal-specific phrases, you definitely should not use them outside of their region of origin (unless you want to get yelled at)! Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at some California expressions. We’ll start with the good old North…

NorCal

1. “Hella”

13TSaa05ZdlVT2

    This California expression is pretty infamous. I never heard it being used in Southern California, and when I started living in the North it came as a bit of a shock to me when I heard every other person dropping phrases like “yeah man, that was a hella cool class.” Even after four years in NorCal, I never reached the point where I felt comfortable using it myself. I just stuck to its synonyms, like “incredibly,” or “very.” These days “hella” and its little brother, “hecka,” are being used more and more often in SoCal, so I’d say soon enough they will become ubiquitous to all of California. Until that happens though, you’ll continue to receive stares of disapproval if you use this expression in Southern California. Even if you use this in NorCal, where it’s meant to be used, be prepared for an outburst of righteous indignation if a SoCal native hears you say it.

    2. “The City”

    taGDIk4fwf1dK

      This means San Francisco, or SF. For people in the North, this is the only city that deserves being called The City. They aren’t talking about San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland, or anyplace like that. (Sorry, people from those cities.) If you are from Los Angeles and say you’re from “the city” when you’re up in NorCal, you’ll just be causing a whole lot of confusion. And don’t try to clarify what you meant, either, as that only makes it worse. (You’ll probably just receive a lecture about why LA is terrible compared to the Bay Area). Best not to reveal you’re from Los Angeles in the first place.

      3. “SoCal”

      Advertising

      Z3TF7vBYWmK4w

        Growing up in Southern California, I rarely if ever heard people refer to the region we live in as “SoCal.” Instead we’d just say “California,” and clarify with “in the south” or “near LA” when asked. When I moved up North, I heard the term “SoCal” used far more often, which is a little bit ironic. Here’s an example: “Oh, look, these guys are hella weird. They’re probably from SoCal.” If you use “SoCal” while actually in SoCal, you’ll probably freak people out, since we all know where we are. The only reason to use such an abbreviation anyways is when speaking in reference to NorCal. But we rarely do that.

        4. “I’m stoked!”

        OogkYtUHxdEQ0

          While this is surely used in Southern California as well, especially near the beaches, I heard it all the time in NorCal. Is there a party going on? Well, then you’re stoked for it. About to go on a bike ride? Get stoked. Going to the beach? Stoked. It means “super extremely excited about doing something.” Seeing how long that phrase is, it’s no wonder it gets condensed down to “stoked” so often. Doing research, I found that many people said that “stoked” is a SoCal expression. Well, maybe it used to be, but it’s definitely become more of a “thing” up North now as far as I can tell.

          5. “420”

          uwa35VMtq9yWQ

            This, in the North,always refers to April 20th, the date on which all of the pot smokers up there gather and celebrate their collective addiction to marijuana. There are pot smokers in SoCal of course, especially where I live, but I never heard “420” used this way until I moved up North. Today it has become more ubiquitous across America, but I’d still say it’s very much a part of Northern California’s culture. If you say you’re celebrating 420 in SoCal, chances are you’ll receive several blank stares, and perhaps even be arrested, while up in Northern California you’ll probably get a few cheers and a couple high-fives.

            6. “Janky”

            Advertising

            7X8q0aE8vLZra

              “Janky” means “performing below normal standards.” So if your iPhone is being slow and unresponsive, you’d say “Dang, my phone is being real janky today.” It’s not something I heard being used everyday in NorCal, though it definitely was used, especially compared to SoCal where I never heard it. I’d stick to using this phrase in Northern California, because elsewhere they might think you’re talking about an exotic new narcotic.

              SoCal

              1. “Like”

              valleygirl

                Like, did you know that us Southern Californians like to, like, use the word “like” in our sentences? Even when we, like, don’t need to? This isn’t a problem when writing, usually, but if you ever hear “like” interspersed between every other word, you’re likely talking to a person from SoCal. Don’t be fooled by stereotypes either: it isn’t just so-called valley girls who do this. I do it, and so does pretty much everyone I know who grew up in this region. Much like the North’s “hella,” our use of “like” is mostly subconscious and can’t really be controlled, so don’t get too mad at us!

                2. “NoCal”

                kings sports illustrated

                  As you probably noticed, there’s an “r” missing from this. Or is there? When referring to Northern California in abbreviated form (which, I’ll remind you, we Southern Californians rarely do), we use “NoCal” instead of NorCal because it’s more derogatory. (No-Cal, get it?) And it’s about twice as fun to say. Just don’t say it up North because people will take it as a slight against their honor and start raving about all of the things wrong with Southern California. They might also pull out a cowbell or two and start ringing it in your face.

                  3. “Dude”

                  Advertising

                  fast-times

                    While this might seem like something everyone in California says, you’re far more likely to hear it as a term of endearment down South. Up North, I found that people would say “man” instead. Note that this phrase is unisex, meaning you don’t have to call a girl a “dudette,” whatever that is. They can be dudes, too! You can safely say “dude” in NorCal without attracting anyone’s fury, just don’t expect it to be said back to you.

                    4. “North-North California”

                    Jefferson4

                      We Southern Californians are keenly aware that what is typically known as NorCal (San Fransisco, Sacramento, and the like), is really just upper-central California geographically. So when we come across someone who lives in that strange land above Tahoe and below Oregon, we ask them, “So you live in North-North California? Basically Oregon right?” They usually bristle at this, either because they want to be affiliated with the hip and happening NorCal or don’t want to be associated with Oregon in any way. Fun fact: this area of California once petitioned to be its own state, Jefferson, but it never happened. Best to not bring up any of this to a “true” Northern Californian, lest you incur their wrath.

                      5. “There’s a Sigalert on the 405”

                      fde0d38058ef7c2421de795ea2724420

                        The term “Sigalert” is practically inseparable from Southern California, mostly as a result of its huge Freeway infrastructure. A Sigalert is a warning from the Highway Patrol that a particular region of the Freeway is blocked off due to a crash, meaning that it’s unusable, leading to hours of rage-inducing traffic. It happens on a daily basis, and thus Southern Californians are always checking their TVs and radios for Sigalerts before they hit the road. Usually there’s a detour available, a result of there being so many gosh-darned Freeways everywhere. I should also point out one more distinction here, in that people in NorCal wouldn’t say “the 405.” Instead, they’ll say something like “take highway 17 to get to San Jose,” whereas a Southern California native would say “take the 17.” Also, I never heard “Sigalert” used up in NorCal, so save yourself some trouble and just call them “accidents” when you’re up there.

                        6. “The entertainment industry”

                        Advertising

                        hollywood

                          In Southern California, this always means that your job deals with Hollywood in some fashion, whether you work on a set, are an engineer of some sort, are a producer, an actor, and so on and so forth. Here’s a reminder though: say something like “I work in the entertainment industry” up in NorCal and people probably won’t even know what you’re referring to. You’ll need to clarify that you work in the show business, specifically the one related to Hollywood, or else their mind will wander, thinking about the many things a job based in “entertainment” could entail.

                          And lastly, a phrase to avoid like the plague…

                          “Cali”

                          CALI-Strong-Icon

                            Northern and Southern Californians can come together on this one. Nobody, literally nobody living in California refers to their state as “Cali.” Use that word here and you might as well be holding up a giant sign that says “I’m from Pennsylvania!”

                            Featured photo credit: golden-gate-bridge-san-francisco / CC0 Public Domain via pixabay.com

                            More by this author

                            5 Life Lessons I Learned From Dean Winchester 10 Best Online Shopping Sites I Wish I Knew Earlier 10 Reasons Why Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend 30 Incredible Things Your iPhone Can Do 10 Things Only Detail-Oriented People Do

                            Trending in Communication

                            1 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People 2 How To Be Happy Alone and Enjoy Life 3 10 Warning Signs of Low Self-Esteem and a Lack of Confidence 4 10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear 5 The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships

                            Read Next

                            Advertising
                            Advertising
                            Advertising

                            Last Updated on July 18, 2019

                            What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

                            What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

                            Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.

                            They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.

                            It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.

                            1. They Manage Their Expectations

                            They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

                            2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards

                            Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.

                            3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted

                            Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.

                            Advertising

                            4. They’re Not Materialistic

                            There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?

                            5. They Don’t Dwell

                            They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.

                            6. They Care About Themselves First

                            They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.

                            They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.

                            7. They Enjoy the Little Things

                            They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.

                            8. They Can Adapt

                            They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.

                            Advertising

                            9. They Experiment

                            They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.

                            10. They Take Their Time

                            They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.

                            11. They Employ Different Perspectives

                            They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.

                            12. They Seek to Learn

                            Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.

                            13. They Always Have a Plan

                            They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.

                            14. They Give Respect to Get It

                            They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.

                            Advertising

                            15. They Consider Every Opportunity

                            They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.

                            16. They Always Seek to Improve

                            Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.

                            17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

                            They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.

                            18. They Live in the Moment

                            They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.

                            You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

                            19. They Say Yes

                            Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.

                            Advertising

                            20. They’re Self-Aware

                            Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.

                            We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.

                            Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.

                            Learn about How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

                            Final Thoughts

                            The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.

                            For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.

                            More About Happiness

                            Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com

                            Read Next