Keeping it real

Recently, a friend who’s also from Jersey asked me what travel plans I have this summer.  I told him that Swells and I are going to the Jersey Shore.  He paused; his face pained.

“The Jersey Shore?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah,” I said, not knowing that I made a linguistic foible.

“Dude, seriously: the Jersey Shore?” he demanded.

“What’s wrong with the Jersey Shore?” I was a little over the game at this point.

“Dude, where are you from??” he was even more pained at this point.

“Nutley.” duh.

“…and did you call it ‘the Jersey Shore’ in Nutley?” he asked cooly.

I finally got what he was getting at: “Ooooooh, sorry dude! That’s my bad; I’m going ‘down the shore’ with Steph.”

So here it is.  All of this just to discuss local idioms.  We from NJ call ‘going on a beach vacation’ (assuming that we’re talking about the Jersey Shore) ‘going down the shore.’

Anyone else with something to share? Do you call one of the Great Lakes ‘ditchland’ or something like that?

15 responses to “Keeping it real”

  1. Tim says:

    You’re accustomed to speaking to Auslanders, that’s all, so you have felt the need to clarify which shore, also that you’re not going “down” but east.

    That this descriptor is now associated with a TV show of some repute probably made it worse for your friend, like as if someone who grew up in Irvine calling it “the OC”.

    What I feel to be an unfortunate local idiom has developed since I left my hometown. They’ve started calling it “Coop”. Dislike.

  2. F. P. Smearcase says:

    Oh I’ve always liked that locution, “down the shore.”

    Funny because I was thinking about doing a similar post about the ways people say where they’re from (pointing at the hand if you’re from Michigan, etc.)

  3. J-Man says:

    “The Southland” or “So Cal” for L.A.; “The San Fernando Valley” for the Valley (“Vals go home!” ;)
    “Frisco” for San Francisco. Frisco?! Really? Does anybody ever say that anymore?

  4. F. P. Smearcase says:

    I think in a lot of places people give a narrow-down answer first. In Kentucky they’ll say what county they’re from; up here a lot of the time you’ll here folks from NJ give a Turnpike exit before saying the town, or if they’re from Long Island, they’ll say what LIRR train. Then once they can tell if you’re generally familiar, they’re more specific.

    p.s. about Frisco: I always hear this kind of hilarious thing where people say more or less “I live in Sa-ra-ih-oh” like saying the consonants will harsh their mellow.

  5. J-Man says:

    Oh, and speaking of Frisco, up in Nor-Cal they don’t use the article in front of highway names, whereas in The Southland we do. So up North, they say, “take 101 to 580 to 880” and down here in So Cal we say, “take The 101 to The 10 to The 405”. And in Dogtown they just ride their skateboards.

  6. Rachel says:


    One amusing thing about Madison is that people identify very strongly as “east side” or “west side”. But the city is built outwards from a downtown isthmus (narrow strip of land between two lakes) that is only about three miles long and less than a mile wide, so the geographic distinction is basically meaningless. (The cultural distinction, however, is indeed huge.)

    Back home in coastal NH it was not uncommon to hear people explain where they lived in terms of distance from the nearest decent ski mountain, even though Boston was a lot closer.

  7. LP says:

    I believe people from San Francsico hate the term “Frisco.”

    I also believe it’s pronounced “long BEACH.”

  8. J-Man says:

    LP, do you mean “Long GBeach” as in “Lon-Gisland”?

  9. Ivy says:

    The ditch: the Tasman Sea. (Between NZ and Australia.)

  10. AWB says:

    Before going to Louisville, I knew that it was pronounced more like LUHvull. But when I got there, I was corrected several times by locals insisting it’s more like UHL-L’l. It’s like how it would sound if you tried to say Louisville with your tongue sewn to the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth.

  11. Dave says:

    “Ditchland” cracks me up.

    It also would be a good name for my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. I hate fake NYC neighborhood names, although of course they were all made up at some point and some merely have enough patina to strike me as “real.” I lived in Boerum Hill, which anyone who’s read that Jonathan Lethem book knows was invented in the ’60s or ’70s as a marketing term. It’s not a real, organically connected neighborhood, although parts of it are well connected to other neighborhoods (Park Slope, Cobble Hill, downtown Brooklyn). But I always had to apologize for using the term.

    This summer I’m living in East Williamsburg, and when I say that people say “Oh, you mean Bushwick?” I don’t think I do. It doesn’t feel like Bushwick, it feels like Williamsburg but with fewer hipsters. But I don’t know when “East Williamsburg” was invented — 1870 or 2003? Like how the “East Village” was invented at some point, and some New Yorkers still call it the Lower East Side while newcomers think “Lower East Side” refers more specifically to the area south of what they call the East Village.

    Anyway, my old apartment was near a ditch, although not near enough to be officially part of the city-designated “Gowanus” neighborhood. And not near enough to smell like it, either. But Ditchland sounds good.

  12. FPS says:

    AWB I promise it’s nothing quite so Lovecraftian. It’s just LOU-uh-vul. I tell you this as a native speaker.

  13. AWB says:

    I can also do New Orleans. It’s not N’Awlins. It’s Nawhhns.

  14. AWB says:

    (I’m just being a prick, FPS. Sorry.)

  15. k-sky says:

    – Hey Jack, what’s happenin’?
    – I don’t know.
    – Well uh, rumour around town says you might be thinkin’ ’bout goin’ down to the shore.
    – Uh, yeah, I think I’m gonna go down to the shore.