As a native Californian, I'm often asked if we locals call our beloved state "Cali". The answer, to be honest, is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no. While some Californians do use this nickname, it's not as widespread as you might think. In fact, many residents of the Golden State don't use "Cali" at all. Rather, they prefer the full name, "California", or even just "CA" for short. It seems that "Cali" is more commonly used by people from outside the state, especially in the media and popular culture.
The nickname "Cali" has been around for a while, but its exact origins are unclear. Some believe it's simply a shortened version of the state's name, while others think it originated in the music scene. It was popularized by the rap song "Going Back to Cali" by LL Cool J in the late 80s, and has been used in numerous songs since then, especially in the hip-hop genre. To many, "Cali" has a certain cool, laid-back vibe that aligns with the popular perception of California.
Despite the nickname's popularity in music and media, most Californians I know don't use "Cali" in everyday conversation. We are more likely to say "California", or refer to a specific city or region within the state, such as "LA" for Los Angeles, or "the Bay Area" for San Francisco and its surroundings. Some of us even cringe a little when we hear "Cali", seeing it as a term used mainly by tourists or newcomers.
That said, the nickname "Cali" has certainly gained traction due to its frequent use in pop culture. Movies, TV shows, songs, and even clothing brands have used "Cali" to evoke an image of California's sunny beaches, palm trees, and laid-back lifestyle. This has undoubtedly contributed to the nickname's popularity, especially among those who aren't from California.
Another place where you'll often hear "Cali" is in the tourism industry. Many travel agencies and tour operators use the nickname in their advertising to appeal to tourists who are attracted by the image of California portrayed in the media. In this context, "Cali" has become a kind of shorthand for the dreamy, idealized version of California that many visitors have in mind.
So, do Californians call California "Cali"? The answer is, it depends. Some do, some don't. It's a matter of personal preference. As for me, I usually stick with "California". But I won't correct you if you call it "Cali". After all, what's in a name? As Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet". And to me, California - or "Cali", if you prefer - will always be home.