Spotting the newbies: There’s no “The” there

How do you spot radio & tv announcers (and others) in Northern California who haven’t been here long, particularly those who moved from Southern California (and thus can’t be spotted by accent)?

Get them to give a traffic report or just talk about traffic, routes, etc.

There’s a dead giveaway: The

For long-time locals, it’s “880” and “101” and “280” and “273” and the like.

For them Southerners, it’s “the 880” and “the 101” and so on.

Another post with the deep significance you’ve come to expect here.

4 Responses to “Spotting the newbies: There’s no “The” there”

  1. Blake says:

    There’s a similar phenomena I’ve noticed here in Buffalo. Only the traffic reporters call The 290 by it’s “real” name, which apparently is “The Youngman Expressway.” I’ve no idea why they do this, it’s still confusing to me, I always need to think about what they’re talking about. It’s about 10 miles of take your life in your own hands speedway hell, so it’s always in the traffic report.
    Not that we have anywhere near the traffic you do, but then again my drive to work is much farther than yours, and I must travel the dreaded 290 everyday. If I die before I leave my current job it’ll be due to some nut job in an SUV going 85 on the 290.

  2. walt says:

    Around here, only a few mostly long-established reporters use highway names such as the Nimitz (and yes, in that case it is “the Nimitz”–which I think is 880, but I’m not sure. So I do see what you’re saying.

  3. John says:

    I think there’s a relatively simple explanation of why articles are used in Southern California and not in Northern California. Two of our main freeways (at least) have unique names, follow logical patterns (near rivers, along mountains, etc.) but change route numbers based on Caltrans and US freeway-standard whim and fiat. Just as Northern Californians are accustomed to driving “the Nimitz” or the “MacArthur”, we drive “the Hollywood”, “the Foothill”, or “the Pasadena”. In our cases, however, the numbers of the freeways often change in the middle of the named roadway. Carrying the definite article over to the number personalizes the number of the freeway somehow, giving it its own name and personality.

    I also think that when we listen to traffic reports, our hearing perks up when we hear a definite article because we know that freeway information, possibly critical, is about to be issued.

    My one-point-five cents’ worth.

  4. walt says:

    An interesting and plausible explanation. Of course, these days very few drivers around here know what “the Nimitz” is–or “the MacArthur,” for that matter. Bad enough that 17 is really 880…