Continents in the OED

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Jan 6 18:14:18 UTC 2012

There is a good video on YouTube pointing out that the way the continents is defined is arbitrary (, essentially a matter of convenience.

The OED does an elegant job of avoiding the traps that the video talks about, but the explanatory text (the part after the first sentence) is now out of date:

One of the main continuous bodies of land on the earth's surface.

Formerly two continents were reckoned, the Old and the New; the former comprising Europe, Asia, and Africa, which form one continuous mass of land; the latter, North and South America, forming another. (These two continents are strictly islands, distinguished only by their extent.) Now it is usual to reckon four or five continents, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, North and South; the great island of Australia is sometimes reckoned as another, and geographers have speculated on the existence of an Antarctic Continent.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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