Last time I was in Chi-Town I nearly froze to death and wished I were in Hotlanta. I had just flown in from Frisco and my next stop was the Big Apple. After that, I had to jet out to LaLa Land for a meeting with my agent.
Anyone cringing yet? If you frequently use nicknames for cities, you might be venturing into treacherous waters…
Having grown up in Atlanta, I’m always polite and smile when someone says “Hotlanta” or “The ATL” but on the inside, I cringe. Also associating Atlanta with peaches or peach trees is a little irritating.
When I moved to San Francisco, I quickly learned to be a hip local and just refer to my new hometown as “the city.” Legendary San Francisco columnist Herb Caen was probably the first to say, “Don’t call it Frisco!” Among locals, “San Fran” also gets under the skin.
I recently worked with a client in Chicago who asked me to shy away from references to “The Windy City” or “Second City.” I wondered why, so I put the question out on Twitter and learned that neither of those are anywhere near as offensive to locals as is “Chi-town.” Now I know!
Chicago people: Do you roll your eyes when you hear “Windy City” like we do in SF when we hear “Frisco?” Just askin’! LMK
— Chris McGinnis (@cjmcginnis) December 19, 2017
Last time I was in Los Angeles I was using “LaLa Land” a lot, thinking I was being fun and cheeky until I got an eye-roll from a native Angeleno. “There’s something inherently derisive about it, like we’re all living on another planet. ” Whoops!
I reached out to a few more LA friends and got this advice: “No to Tinseltown but City of Angels is okay.” And what about what to call Los Angeles International Airport? “No one in LA says “lax.” Like other airports, we call it by its three-letter code name LAX [‘el-ay-ex’], like PDX or JFK.”
There are a few other nicknames that I suspect irritate locals, so help me out here:
Is it okay to call New York “the Big Apple,” or does that sound like I’m a bumpkin? A twitter follower told me that the term is “irrelevant.”
What about “The Big D” for Dallas?
Jokes about Denver being the Mile “High” City getting on anyone’s nerves yet?
What about calling Boston “Beantown?”
Is referring to Australia as “the Land Down Under” or saying anything about “shrimp on the barbie” overdone?
“Sin City” for Las Vegas okay? “The Big Easy” for New Orleans cringeworthy to locals? Are there more?
Fire away with your advice or experiences! Am I missing any nail-on-the-chalkboard references that unnerve locals?