Tuesday, August 12, 2008

San Diego Slanguage

With rare exceptions, San Diego County residents came from someplace else, and brought their verbal idiosyncrasies with them. For instance, my father came from New England in 1940, and always had some speech patterns that labelled him as from there. For instance, he couldn't help but call my wife Lindar. She got back at him, of course, by calling him Popper (and our girls still refer to him that way, not Grandpa).

I really don't remember many "regional sayings" that my father used. I don't think "For crying out loud" or "Geesus wheezus" count.

Rather than wrack my faulty memory to find some of the words or phrases that he brought with him, I thought that I would list some of the "code words" that have been used in the San Diego area all of my life:

* "T.J." -- Tijuana, the large Mexican city just 12 miles south of downtown San Diego. Most teens and young adults go there to party.

* "Dago" -- what Navy recruits called San Diego. Native-born San Diegans always pronounce it "Sann Dee-ay-go" which isn't exactly correct Spanish - it should be "Sawn Dee-ay-go" of course! [Note the "ay" is a "long a" sound - the Spanish "e" sound]

* "Nasty City" -- National City, just south of downtown San Diego, my birthplace!

* "Chula Juana" -- Chula Vista, just south of National City, my parents residence when I was born, and my current residence.

* "San Yskidrow" -- San Ysidro, the urban area right on the border across from TJ, featuring an outlet mall and Mexican insurance places.

* "I.B." -- Imperial Beach, the southwesternmost city in the USA (48 states). Has a great beach and pier, but is just north of the Tijuana River outlet so it is often not usable.

* "O.B." -- Ocean Beach, the western part of Point Loma in the city of San Diego.

* "M.B." -- Mission Beach, or "Old Mission" -- the beach just north of the San Diego River on the Pacific Ocean. It's on a narrow peninsula and has an amusement park with the "Big Dipper" wooden roller coaster.

* "P.B." -- Pacific Beach, the beach north of Mission Beach and south of La Jolla.

* "La Joll-ah" -- how non-natives sometimes pronounce "La Jolla" which is properly pronounced in Spanish "La Hoya"

* "El Ca-John" -- how non-natives sometimes pronounce the city of El Cajon, which is properly pronounced in Spanish "El Cah-hone"

* "Jam-ah-cha" -- how non-natives sometimes pronounce the name Jamacha, which is pronounced in Spanish "Hom-ah-shaw"

* "Oh-tie" -- how natives pronounce Otay, which is an Indian name and not a Spanish name. Automated phone callers pronounce it "Oh-tay."

* "Pow-why" -- how natives pronounce Poway, a central county city, which is also an Indian name. Some pronounce it "Poe-way"

* "Cuyamaca" -- the mountain that dominates the eastern skyline, when it's clear skies, about 35 miles east of downtown SD. The central peak is over 6,000 feet high, and the snow mantle in the winter can be majestic. Pronounced "Kwee-ah-mack-ah"

* "the Park" -- Balboa Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the country, located just north of downtown San Diego, that has the San Diego Zoo, Aerospace Museum, Fleet Space Theatre and Science Center, Old Globe Theater, SD Museum of Art, Museum of Man, SD Historical Society and many more cultural opportunities. Also a municipal golf course, tennis, archery, Bocci and bicycle centers, Little League fields, many lawn areas, a Naval Hospital and a beautiful bridge.

* "the Valley" -- Mission Valley, which in 1950 was dairy farms and one two-lane road, and is now the home to about 100,000 people crammed into a river flood plain, plus several shopping centers, golf courses, many hotels, more restaurants, Qualcomm Stadium, and the LDS Family History Center (only some folks know about this last one!).

* "the Point" -- Point Loma, the peninsula that shields San Diego Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The fishing fleet started on the bay side, and Fort Rosecrans Memorial Cemetery is on the ridge overlooking both sides, and Cabrillo National Monument is out on the tip of it with the Cabrillo Lighthouse.

* "Lindbergh" -- the airport in downtown San Diego, named after Charles Lindbergh.

* "the merge" -- the intersection of I-5 and I-805 just north of La Jolla and UCSD and south of Del Mar, made even more complicated by the new State 56 just to the north. This is the scene of massive traffic jams every work morning and night.

* "the Murph" -- what San Diego Stadium was called from about 1970 to 1990, actually Jack Murphy Stadium. Murphy was a sports editor for the San Diego Union.

* "the Q" -- Qualcomm Stadium, formerly Jack Murphy Stadium and San Diego Stadium, erected in 1967.

* "Ellay" -- the Los Angeles megatropolis 120 miles to the north of San Diego.

* "Old Town" -- the area where San Diego was first settled by Europeans - near the intersection of I-5 and I-8 north of downtown SD. Old Town State Park is there trying to look like it was 160 years ago.

* "the Strand" -- the Silver Strand between Imperial Beach and Coronado Island. It's a peninsula about 8 miles long with San Diego Bay on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west.

* "Coronado Island" -- the small city at the north end of the Silver Strand, which is a peninsula. Before 1930, there were two land areas, the city and North Island (where the US Naval Air Station is located), but the swamp in between was filled in.

* "Hotel Del" -- the Hotel del Coronado, built in the 1880's, that is on Coronado Island. Famed for its architecture and celebrity events.

* "the mountains" -- the Palomar, Cuyamaca and Laguna mountains to the north and east of San Diego. There are several peaks more than 6,000 feet high.
* "the desert" -- everything east of the mountains -- hundreds of miles of sand, cactus, brush and not many people.

* "Zonies" -- residents of Arizona who come to OB, MB, PB, and other beaches to cool off in the summer time.

* "snow birds" -- residents of mountain and northern states who come to San Diego in the winter to warm up.

* "May-gray" -- the typical weather for May in the coastal areas, characterized by night, morning, noon, afternoon and evening low clouds.

* June-gloom" -- the typical weather for June, an extension of "May-gray" which persists until the high pressure area over the Great Basin forms.

* "Santa Ana" -- high, hot winds that whistle down from the mountains when the Great Basin high gets really strong in September through November. The coast then gets temperatures in the 95-110 F range, and brush fires start in the parched back country.

I'm sure I'll think of more verbal idiosyncrasies for the city where six generations of my family has lived. I'll add them when I think of them!


Jennifer said...

Ah, the sounds of home. As a Coronado native, I would add that Coronado Island was, to us, usually "'Nado", and the Del was just "The Del."

Viagra Online said...

You are right these words "La Joll-ah" is a spanish word an in spanish is "La Hoya" like the boxer Oscar de La Hoya. I enjoyed so much this blog because I learn new words.

viagra online said...

I think It's good to know some lexical stuff, specially if you speak 2 or 3 languages at least you can get an idea of what It's someone talking about or If someone It's insulting you haha
I speak 3 languages (englisg, spanish, japanese) the language with more language lexicons It's the spanish with is very difficult.
Thanks for sharing.

Viagra Online said...

Ha ha this is common to heard from far places in which people has their own words, it's their way to reduce it or tell it easier. In fact I live in a little town and it's the same situation.

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Anonymous said...

Funny enough, I landed here because I wanted to know how to pronounce "Jamacha" because I just got laughed at on the phone for sounding it out jah-MAH-cha. OOps! Your post is spot on though! Being a military transplant myself, it was a little tricky to decipher some of the idioms that native San Diegans have come up with. I figured speaking Spanish would help me considerably [and it has] but you start throwing the Native American names in there and I'm in over my head! Though you did miss one idiosyncrasy: Mission Beach. It's the only beach that people refer to by its full name, as opposed to the others you listed, which are simply referred to by their initials, like IB and PB.

Unknown said...

There is no word on the Spanish language where "ch" is pronounced "sh." Jamacha is not a Spanish word, it is a Native American word and it is pronounced "Juh-'Mahchuh."