Don’t Call It “The Five” in San Francisco!

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Maria Bustillos writes in Aeon that when she drives from Los Angeles to San Francisco, she always takes I-5, the most direct route:

This is the way I always go. Not only because it’s fastest, but because, despite the conventional wisdom, I find it the most beautiful of all. California natives always call it just ‘The Five’: not Highway Five or Interstate Five or I-5.

Hoo boy. As soon as I read that I knew she was going to get some angry responses. Sure enough, here’s the very first comment:

“The” in front of a highway number is NOT a CA native expression! It is rather, a SoCal thing based largely on CHP and LAFD radio chatter. It has become widespread all over the west into Arizona, Nevada and even Oregon, but is roundly discouraged in The Bay Area and in Norcal.

I’m not sure about Oregon, but this is definitely a Southern California thing that has spread throughout the southwest. It goes north to about San Luis Obispo or Monterey, but stops there. It’s also, oddly enough, common in the Buffalo/Toronto area, but apparently nowhere else in the United States.

However, I don’t think there’s any evidence that this habit is based on CHP or LAFD chatter. Unfortunately, it’s not clear what it is based on, since none of the explanations I’ve ever heard have really been convincing. The full story is here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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