A big village . . .

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Apr 11 16:34:02 UTC 2006

On Apr 11, 2006, at 6:49 AM, Charles Doyle wrote:

> Last night I brought up the "village" matter with my wife,
> who (as I reported here earlier) spent the first 19 years of
> her life in the VILLAGE of Oak Park, IL.  She declared, with
> just a touch of hauteur, that Oak Park is "the largest
> VILLAGE in the world" (or at least it so claimed in the
> 1960s and 1970s), with a population of 60,000+.

this is playing with the jurisdictional label.  Oak Park is
administratively labeled a "village", but it is not even remotely
describable as a "village" in ordinary language.

i'm not sure why it's so hard for Larry and me to get this point
across, especially in this forum. the discussion gets repeatedly
sidetracked into technical/legal/administrative usages, and also into
proper names (like Westwood Village and Greenwich Village), which are
both irrelevant to Bolinger's observation.  Bolinger's observation
might not hold for all Americans -- it is certainly *not* true for
British speakers or for english speakers living on the continent
(Anne Cutler, for instance, lives in a village outside Nijmegen and
refers to the place in those terms) -- but it was never intended to
be a claim about all occurrences of the word "village".  so it's a
moderately subtle observation, but not, i had hoped, beyond the
understanding of people on ADS-L.

on a related matter, NPR's Morning Edition this morning had a story
about the West Bank that was full of references to Palestinian
villages there and also to villagers.  "villager" is even stranger
for me in an american context than "village" (excluding, of course,
things like "Villagers" to refer to people who live in the Village,
i.e., Greenwich Village).


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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