Saturday, November 28, 2009

XXX Cali-Girl XXX

Cali (disambiguation)
Cali may refer to:
- Slang or short (sometimes pejorative) for California, a western state in the United States.


In New York I'm sometimes referred to as a "Cali-girl." When asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving, I told people I was going back home, and the response was generally along the lines of, "oh, you're going back to Cali, huh?"

My good friend Renae started using that term a few years ago, when she went to college in faraway Pennsylvania and the rest of us settled down within the more familiar UC system. Messages we exchanged ran something like, "I'm coming back to Cali in December for Christmas, you going to be around?" I am beginning to learn that people from outside of California apparently find the state's name too long to pronounce, and the habit rubs off.

There are 2 things wrong with Renae's language, which are mistakes many East Coast residents tend to make.
1) Referring to a visit to "California" is unclear. California is not a monolith. Visiting San Diego is much different than visiting San Francisco, and makes a vast difference in your ability to visit any friends who may be scattered across the state.
2) Secondly, and more importantly, Cali is an unacceptable way of shortening the state's name. It's diminutive and kitschy, and most of all, it signifies your distance from the state both culturally and geographically. Californians almost never refer to their great state so casually. The pride with which we refer to California always necessitates the use of the full 5 syllables.

I have another friend that I met in the Bay Area who immigrated West from Connecticut. As part of his re-location, he tattooed the word "Cali" on his back. He has since realized the error of his ways, and doctored his tattoo to reflect its inaccuracy as a statement of California culture. It now has a large "X" through it.

The only acceptable nickname for the great state of California is "Cal," which appropriately reflects its power and majesty. (It's also the name of the state's best university.) I suspect the word Cali came from rappers who were looking for easy words to rhyme with.

Sadly, as an East Coast transplant like Renae, I've found myself sometimes referring to my home state as Cali. It's an unfortunate side effect of living outside of California. I'm trying desperately to quit, but I expect I will have the occasional slip-up while I'm spending most of my time outside my home state. Only while I'm in New York, though...I promise.

4 comments:

  1. sarah, Cal is never an acceptable nickname for our great state, it remains reserved for our great university. - your friend from uptown

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  2. Uptownfriend, you're probably right. My bad.

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  3. CA is not acceptable, I also second Uptownfriend

    As soon as I started reading this I thought about that particular tattooed transplant. I'm glad he made a cameo.

    And for reference: Texans will say Cali sometimes but rarely. More often I hear the whole word in a very mocking tone(i.e. Oh... Cali-forn-ya!). Because the only folks that are more fiercely proud of their state than Californians, are Texans.

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