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editorial

SoBo: Southie with Botox?

Keep your nicknames and your vermin to yourself.

Keep your nicknames and your vermin to yourself.

SoBo? Really? When an article in The New York Times used the mysterious term to refer to South Boston, asserting that “gritty Southie . . . has morphed into SoBo,” Twitter lit up with mockery. SoBo is a term that nobody in the neighborhood — not even the newcomers living in what the Times called its “glassy condos” — has ever used unironically.

In truth, though, it’s not the first sighting of the word. Realtors have tried to rechristen Boston neighborhoods before. They also attempted to rename East Boston “EaBo,” and have actually been successful at convincing some residents to call the part of the South End south of Washington Street “SoWa.”

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Yet just like bedbugs, affected shorthand names for neighborhoods are far more likely to establish themselves in New York City — think Soho, Dumbo, Nolita. The implication that Boston is no different is probably why the Times article set off such a reaction.

The forces of change are indeed at work in South Boston, but reflexive trend-chasing isn’t one of them.

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