Last summer, I spent two weeks in Los Angeles visiting my cousin and a few of my friends from Georgetown. Besides the fact that the daily agendas of Angelenos revolve around the area’s absurd traffic situation and lack of public transport, I loved just about everything about Southern California. The weather was fabulous (to the point that a waitress complained to me that 75 degrees was scorching), everyone there was as obsessed with movies and television as I am and there was no shortage of vegetarian food or fro-yo for an herbivore like me.

Yet I think that if I had stayed there any longer, I would have started to talk completely like a Californian. To be honest, I am probably more prone to adopt a SoCal manner of speaking than most East Coasters, considering that two of my best friends at Georgetown are from Los Angeles. Even before I took the trip to the West Coast, I found myself starting to hang onto my vowels longer. If you don’t know what I mean, just watch one or all of “The Californians” sketches from Saturday Night Live. Obviously, the characters’ accents are rather exaggerated in these portrayals, but the notion that lingering onto vowel sounds makes a person sound like a surfer bum or a valley girl, regardless of his or her actual intelligence, is still pretty accurate.

Even so, the word pronunciation isn’t even the funniest part of each sketch. I personally find the whole obsession with automobile transportation — specifically freeways — hilarious because every time I watch “The Californians,” I feel like I am sitting at Leo’s with my friends, befuddled by their back-and-forth about the 405 and the PCH. I recently watched an episode with one of said friends, who happens to be a blond, board-short-wearing guy who surfs and regularly describes things as “gnarly.” That being said, even he couldn’t stop laughing when Fred Armisen’s and Bill Hader’s characters battled it out to see who could take the longest to say, “What are you doing here?”

Another trait of California vernacular that SNL nails is the obsession with produce. At least one character per episode will boast about a fresh fruit or vegetable, whether it be dates, sun-dried tomatoes or real California avocados (but pronounced as “ah-vuh-KYAH-dohs,” naturally). My cousin actually told me that I can never truly be considered a Californian if I continue to despise avocadoes; she also added that I will have to trade in my sneakers for tennis shoes if I ever plan to move to the West Coast.

Of course, there are also intrastate differences in language due to factors of culture and geography. In a state as vast as California, it’s not really surprising that northerners and southerners frequently mock one another (the former are made fun of for saying “hella” and the latter for essentially everything else that I already mentioned). But based on its size, you might not expect New Jersey to vary so much in terms of the jargon of its residents. For instance, a few weeks ago, when I was mooching a ride home for Thanksgiving off of my friend who lives about twenty minutes away from me in the Garden State, we had some very profound conversations, including one about the phrase “hoity-toity.” When my friend admitted that he had never heard of the expression before, I described it as meaning “uppity” or “pretentious.” He responded by saying, “Oh, like ‘shi shi foo foo,’” to which I answered, “Huh?”

Language barriers don’t just occur from country to country, coast to coast or state to state; they arise between towns and sometimes even next-door neighbors. But if there were a competition between the Pacific and Atlantic states, would the final word be West Coast, best coast, East Coast, least coast? Because West Coast worst coast, East Coast, beast coast will always sound pretty awesome to me.

Allie Doughty is a senior in the College. This is the final appearance of GEORGETOWN BABEL this semester.

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