Talk of Campus / The Verbal Melting Pot
By Janet Ma '11
Being college students, my friends and I spend a lot of time talking, about everything from the nuances of The Big Lebowski
to the quirky comments our biology professor made during lecture. But one age-old question always seems to persist: soda
Coming from Michigan, I’ve always said ‘p op’ without thinking twice. And since everyone back home used it, it never
crossed my mind that it might be the “wrong” word.
Until I got here. Now every time I order a pop, at least one of my East or West Coast friends shoots me a disbelieving
look. “Pop? Who says that? You mean, soda?”
These reactions made me realize that it wasn’t just the international students that experience culture shock at Pomona. As
the College draws more out-of-state students—fewer than a third are now from California—everyone brings a culture to
the campus that is new to someone else.
This is most noticeable in the way we talk. From the slang to the colloquialisms to subtle differences in regional accents,
my freshman ears were constantly picking up new words and p hrases from my classmates. I had never heard someone say they
made “hella bank”—that’s lots of money—or tell me that my room looked “ill” before. I remember raising my eyebrows
when someone first told me the time was “10 of 12” instead of “10 to 12.”
Likewise, the way I said things was also coming under scrutin y. Besides being in the minority for wanting “pop” instead of
“soda,” I was also made aware for the first time that I had a n accent, subtle as it was. My friends would sometimes smile and
point out how I drew my “a’s” out when I used words like “black” or “cat.”
I started to track how my friends talked relative to where they came from. I not ed whether they told me they had “wicked
fun” when they returned to Boston or “kicked it” back in Seattle. I got used to hearing New Englanders say “dank” for awesome, and the Bay Area crowd say “juiced” when they were excited for something.
But as we reached the end of our first semester, not only had my friends and I
grown used to the melting pot of regional slang and colloquialisms, I had started picking
up some of their words as well. When I went back to Michigan, I got quizzical looks
every time I told my high school friends something at college was “hella” awesome.
My out-of-place lingo signified that Pomona, in some ways, had already become more of a
home than where I had come from.
DANK – (New England) awesome
HELLA – (Bay Area) adds emphasis (really, very, etc.)
JUICED – (Bay Area) excited, pumped up
LET'S BE OUT – (Bay Area) “let’s go”
MAD – (New York area) adds emphasis (see hella)
WICKED – (New England) adds emphasis (see hella, mad)
YADADAMEAN – (Bay Area) “you know what I mean?”