Monday, January 6, 2020 / by Rick Sadle
As a lifelong Oregonian, there are a lot of things that I have said ad heard that just make sense to me. I don't think of some of these things as being unique to this little place we call home. That is, until i said down with my friend from Texas. See, she was confused and horrified because I told her I wanted to elephant ear.
"You want a what?"
"An elephant ear. You know what elephant ears are?"
So I explained to her that I wasn't going elephant hunting. I further described what she eventually called a funnel cake.
So, there you go. Lesson one. So, I thought I would bust out some other Portland and Oregon specific terms for clarity- should the need for clarity arise.
Another less horrfying yet equally confusing food name is the JoJo, or potato wedge. These babies are carb friendly deliciousness and, apparently, calling them JoJo’s anywhere else will get you strange looks and, most sad of all no potato wedges.
Want to go to the beach? Well, here, we call that the coast. While driving down Highway 101 the reason for this vernacular becomes obvious. Extended stretches of sand interposed by rocky outcroppings, gigantic mountains and grey skies doesn’t make one think of sunshine and beaches. The beach is for Californians and Floridians.
Another of my favorite Oregon sayings is “The mountain is out”. We say this to refer to sunny, vibrant days in Portland when Mt. Hood is not covered by clouds. The mountain is out. Makes sense to me. Why are you giving me that funny look?
The weathermen in Portland (my favorite is Dave Salesky) coined the term “sunbreak”.
With the weather in Oregon being as mercurial as it is, vacillating between rain and sun and clouds—often on the same day—a sunbreak is a blissful instant flanked by clouds when the sun bequeaths upon us a few glorious moments of Vitamin D.
The Valley denotes anything west of the cascades and east of the coast (see? There’s that road again. This is a good one to know. It’s where most Oregonians dwell, and where most of the rain falls.
I thought that “the sticks” was a fairly ubiquitous term. It turns out, though, that this term for rural areas is rather unique to Oregon.
Spendy is how we like to denote something that is expensive. Black ice refers to the clear ice that forms over the dark surface of the road. It can be extremely dangerous, especially considering that we in Oregon don’t have a lot of experience driving over ice on a day to day basis.
My Texan friend says “Ya’ll” a lot. This useful term is used to refer to a group of individuals, regardless of sex. We don’t say ya’ll. We say “You guys.”
These are just some of the fun idioms that w have here that help give this place character and make it a fun place to live. What kind of sayings do you have here you’re from?