As a transplant from northern Minnesota to southern California, I’ve become acutely aware of the language and cultural differences. Most are minor, but a few will peg you immediately as an outsider unable to adapt. So if you find yourself in beautiful, sunny, southern California, keep the following in mind:
1. Put “the” in front of highway numbers. Instead of saying, “Take highway 15 north,” you say “Take the 15 north.” Or instead of saying “215 is really backed up today,” you say “The 215 is really backed up today.”
2. Don’t elongate your “o’s” and add a “w” sound on the end — this is a very Midwestern, Scandinavian thing to do. Don’t say “dowen’t”, or “I knowwww” as this will bring on much mocking with exaggerated expressions of lips puffed out in a perfect “O” while speaking.
3. In California, “pop” is the sound a gun makes, or of a car backfiring. It is not the carbonated drinks that come in cans or plastic bottles — that would be a “soda.” Never mind the fact that the majority of the country uses “pop” to refer to carbonated drinks (see http://www.popvssoda.com ), if you use the word in California small children will look at you funny like you’ve suddenly started speaking in tongues, and adults will laugh, say “pop” in a little voice, and then laugh some more.
4. Say “bag” so that it rhymes with “at” instead of “egg.” No exaggeration — three store clerks in less than a week asked me where I was from after saying the word “bag,” as in, “Yes, I would like a bag, please.” I say it so that it rhymes with egg, but in California, that’s not right. Learn to say bag so it rhymes with at, or back. You do this by opening your mouth further when you are saying the word and pushing the back of your tongue forward. When other people are saying it, you must listen carefully because it is easily confused with the word “back” and can cause misunderstandings (trust me, I’ve been in this situation).
5. “Uffda” is not widely understood outside of the upper Midwest, and muttering the Scandinavian oath in California will earn you strange looks.
6. If describing anything as “freezing,” be sure to clarify exactly how freezing you mean. In southern California, freezing means the temps have dropped below 75 degrees and there may be a cloud blocking the sun. Any temperatures dropping below 35 degrees, or, God-forbid, below 0, are unfathomable and will not even cross the person’s mind as possible. So if you are trying to explain something that is truly cold, assume the Californian thinks you mean 55 degrees and will need a more detailed explanation to understand.
Originally published at https://loistemplin.com