Cali vs California (The Great Debate)

Bella Estrada, a senior studying History at the University of Southern California, who hails from Los Angeles, California, provided four pieces of folklore for this collection.

The interview was run, amidst dinner and drinks, at the University of Southern California located Greenleaf, a popular post-class bar for many students at the prestigious institution.

Folklore Performance: Cali vs California (The Great Debate).

Folk Type: Folk-Speech

“Because I’m so foreign, my main interest honestly lies in California based folklore. Got anything?” – Stanley Kalu

STORY: So, there’s this way that all California natives know not to say. You never refer to California as “Cali.” That’s exclusively for tourists and that’s how you can spot one.

Background Information: The use of the term “Cali”, according to Californians, suggests that a person knows nothing about the “real” California and only see’s the state through the skewed lens of reality television, MTV, and other various faux representations what Californian life is like.

Bella is a Californian native and thus learned the term through the various tourists that pass through the state. This is an important statement to her because the term is an affront to her heritage and thus she takes pride in shaming those that disrespect it.

Context Performance: Tourists use this term when they visit California.

The context of Bella’s rehashing of the tale was done after our “Forms of Folklore” class taught by Tok Thompson because the both of us had a folklore collection project due.

Thoughts: This is another example of folklore created to establish an “in” group and an “out” group. I find this recurring pattern interesting because folklore is a shared experience and is defined as such. However, it would appear that the act of sharing within a small-group is, on the other-hand, an exclusionary experience.