“Cali”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: US
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 10 April 2018
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Context:

Isabella Estrada is studying history at the University of Southern California. She is graduating this year and is in the process of applying to/hearing back from law schools. This was clearly on her mind as the first piece of folklore she gave me dealt with law school applications. She was born and raised in Torrance, California.

Transcript:

Isabella: So, uh, as a native from Southern California, we’re pretty much hip to all the California…uh, terms, terminology, anyway. It was always a joke growing up that you could tell a foreigner based on whether or not they said “Cali” to refer to California because no Californian would ever refer to our state as “Cali.”

Interpretation:

Firstly, Isabella shows pride in being from California. This is something many people do with their state, but it especially makes sense in California, a state with so many non-natives, including myself, for example. She expressed a vague superiority in knowing how to talk about her state, and how to spot out those who don’t belong. Many communities do this. For example, I once referred to a New York restaurant as “The Talkhouse,” only to be laughed at by New Yorkers who told me, “we just call it ‘Talkhouse.'” Simple uses of language can often draw attention to a visitor or immigrant.