Hella, Grody, Jank

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the performer (EC) and I (ZM).

ZM: Is there any like, NorCal slang?

EC: Ooo slang. Like, “grody,” and umm “hella.” I know a lot of these have like spread because of the Internet, but they’re like OG NorCal I would say. Yeah, “grody” and “hella” or like… “jank” or “janky.” That’s one. Those are my best three I would say.

ZM: Okay. And how would you use…all three?

EC: Umm. Okay “hella” is like basically what it sounds like. And it started in Davis. Which is like fifteen minutes from my house. Umm…and… they’re really obsessed with it. They tried to get a like formal unit of measurement. Like a prefix as like the hella. So it was like ten to the like 36 or something. So it would be like, “I have a hellagram of” like something. But, like that didn’t pan out I don’t think. Um, “grody” is like gross I suppose. Um… just kind of like… nasty. “Janky” is like… not necessarily like suspicious, but like… something like about…like if you had like a really old car that like looked like it was about to fall apart, like that would be a janky ass car. (laughs)


Context: This is from a conversation I started with EC originally about her German traditions.


Background: EC is a sophomore studying at the University of Southern California. She is of German descent. She was born and raised in Sacramento.


Analysis: I am from Florida and I had heard of all of these slang terms before coming to California. I did not know that they supposedly came from NorCal nor that there was an attempt to create an official unit of the “hella.” EC seems to firmly believe that these words all originated in Northern California. It’s plausible, but also very difficult to tell.