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

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

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    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”

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      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”

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        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!”

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          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”

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            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”

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              “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”

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                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”

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                  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”

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                    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”

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                      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”

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                        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”

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                        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”

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                            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

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                            Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                            How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                            How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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                            You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                            Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                            Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                            Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                            1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                            According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                            “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                            Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                            Warming up

                            If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                            If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                            Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                            1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                            2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                            3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                            Stay hydrated

                            Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                            To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                            Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                            Meditate

                            Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                            Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                            Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                            Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                            2. Focus on your goal

                            One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                            Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                            Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                            Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                            If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                            3. Convert negativity to positivity

                            There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                            ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                            It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                            Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                            Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                            Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                            4. Understand your content

                            Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                            However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                            “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                            Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                            Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                            One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                            5. Practice makes perfect

                            Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                            In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                            Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                            6. Be authentic

                            There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                            Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                            Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                            To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                            With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                            Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                            7. Post speech evaluation

                            Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                            Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                            We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                            You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                            Improve your next speech

                            As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                            Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                            • How did I do?
                            • Are there any areas for improvement?
                            • Did I sound or look stressed?
                            • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                            • Was I saying “um” too often?
                            • How was the flow of the speech?

                            Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                            If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                            Reference

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