California English and Valleyspeak/Valspeak

"The popular image of a typical California speaker often conjures up images of the so-called Valley Girl… phrases found in these extreme versions of California English from the 1980s may now be considered passĂ©, certain words such as awesome, totally, fer sure, harsh and dude have remained popular in California and have spread to a national, even international, level. The use of the word like for numerous grammatical functions or as conversational “filler” (e.g. in place of thinking sounds “uh” and “um”) has also remained popular in California English and is now found in many other varieties of English.”

One difference between California and most of the rest of the US has been the way California English speakers refer to highways, or freeways. The term freeway itself was originally not used in many areas outside CA. Where most Americans may refer to “I-80” Californians—are less likely to use the “I.” Northern and Southern Californians alike are even less likely to use the “interstate” designation in naming freeways.

The numbering of freeway exits, common in most parts of the United States, has only recently been applied in California and initially appearing only in more populous areas. Thus, virtually all Californians refer to exits by signage name rather than by number, as in “the Grand Avenue exit” (in Los Angeles) rather than “Exit 21.”

  • Southern California

Freeways are referred to either by name or by route number (perhaps with a direction suffix), but with the addition of the definite article “the,” such as “the 405 North” or “the 605 (Freeway)”.

There is no road named the “Los Angeles Freeway”; instead, each freeway which radiates from downtown L.A. is named for its nominal terminus in some other city, such as Santa Monica, Pomona, and San Bernandino. News reports will occasionally refer to the Santa Monica and Santa Ana freeways as such; however, residents will rarely refer to the 405 freeway as the San Diego Freeway (other than on street signs). The majority of natives stick to calling the freeways by “The” + (Freeway number).

Conversely, the older state highways are generally called not by their numbers but by their names, as used on signage and in postal addresses. For example, in Southern California, State Route 1 is called the Pacific Coast Highway and is often referred to as “PCH”.

Southern Californians often refer to the lanes of a multi-lane divided highway by number, “The Number 1 Lane” (also referred to as “The Fast Lane”) is the lane farthest to the left (not counting the carpool lane), with the lane numbers going up sequentially to the right until the far right lane,which is usually referred to as “The Slow Lane.” In areas outside of Los Angeles, where three and occasionally two lane freeways are more common, the lanes are simply the “fast lane”, “middle lane” and “slow lane”.”


  1. greetingsfromca posted this