San Francisco Shorthand (or why it’s not called “San Fran”)
It was kindly pointed out to me that when my last post (about the way in which San Francisco’s open personality lets people be who they are without bother) included the name San Fran in the title, I had committed a local faux pas. I suppose that I knew this when I wrote the title, although I have to admit that I didn’t think much about it at the time. I wrote San Fran for the same reason that I sometimes write SF – to save space and that extra millisecond of time.
People have said that it’s because I’m not a San Francisco native that the various methods of shorthand for the city don’t mean anything to me, but I think it’s actually because I come from a family where everyone has a dozen nicknames which we use interchangeably without a second thought. Although, come to think of it, if anyone outside of my family was to call me “K”, I’d probably cringe.
Still, nicknames for everything from my self to my city have always just come naturally to me. In fact, when my phone rings, it’s usually someone’s nickname that comes up on my screen – not their given name. I’m a nickname kind of girl. And so when it was pointed out to me again that there are certain names that you just don’t call San Francisco, I really started thinking about why that is. Because really, I wouldn’t say “San Fran” out loud because it sounds weird to me … and I wouldn’t use “Frisco” at all because that too just doesn’t roll off of my tongue. But I say SF and I write San Fran.
And of course, it isn’t just the city that we do and don’t shorthand; it’s the neighborhoods as well. In fact, I was recently reading a book which mentioned that locals never say SoMA which I found interesting because I don’t actually know anyone that says South of Market (my native SF friends included). In contrast, most people I’ve met say “The Tenderloin”, not just Tenderloin (or even TL as a couple of people have called it). And that neighborhood brings up the interesting point that nicknames help to further distinguish small neighborhoods in San Francisco (because you have The Tenderloin and Nob Hill and then there’s Lower Nob Hill and the Tendernob, depending on who you talk to).
I guess it just got me thinking about how interesting it is that we identify with certain names for our homes and not with other names. Nicknames and shorthand can really help you tell who is from a certain area, who is a transplant and who is a visitor. And this is probably stronger in San Francisco than in many other places because it is a city which people have intense feelings about. I know I do – no matter what I may call it, San Fran had my heart and soul from the day that I first stepped foot here.