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Ways of Expressing Distance (was: Idiomatic Expressions)

From:tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Thursday, November 17, 2005, 19:28
Hi, Charlie.  This is being sent to you, personally and individually,
on purpose; not by mistake.

--- In, caeruleancentaur
> <caeruleancentaur@Y...> wrote: > > --- In, Yahya Abdal-Aziz <yahya@m...> wrote: > > >[snip] > >9. It's only two miles as the crow flies. (People will always > >give you the straight line distance when the only available > >track is steep, winding, dangerous and almost impossible to > >find ...) > > I had second thoughts about making a comment on this one, but then > I thought, "Oh, what the hell! In for a penny, in for a pound." > (Hey, that's an idiom!) It has to do, not with the crow thing which > is an idiom IMO, but with the "people always..." part. One of my > major pet peeves is generalizations when they aren't accurate. I > live in the Blue Ridge Mtns. of Virginia. Folks up here would > never give distances nowadays "as the crow flies." That crow > doesn't have to pay for gas. We actually have paved roads here and > our vehicles have odometers. We know how far it is from point A to > point B. If I tell an inquirer that it is 25 miles to my mission > church, he might not be pleased that the trip was 33 miles long!
I have been places where people tell you how long you have to drive to get from one place to another; they tell "distances" in times rather than in /distances/. If you say you're walking or biking or riding the bus or the train when they thought you were driving, they'll revise their time. This is actually the way high-energy physicists, particle physicists, and astronomers, actually refer to "distance"; the amount of time it would take a ray of light to travel that far in a vacuum. The King James version Bible translators also reckoned distances in "days' journeys". In some places I've heard of -- for instance in some spots in China that Chinese friends of mine have visited -- it's customary to give "distances" in prices (bus fares) rather than /distances/. It sounds from your description like the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia might be a good place for the habit of describing "distances" in terms of gasoline prices or gallons of gasoline. Does anyone ever do that, even if not as a habit?
> No, people don't ALWAYS "give you the straight line distance, > etc." But then again, maybe I'm just overreacting to hyperbole. > If so, I apologize for the ranting!
ObConLang: 1. Would cultures who fly be likelier to give all "distances" in "as the crow flies" /distances/ than cultures who do not fly? 2. Among cultures who swim, would pelagic cultures be likelier to use the "as the crow flies" /distances/ than riparian cultures? That is, would habitation and exploitation of open, deep, wide bodies of water naturally lead to this kind of distance, moreso than habitation and exploitation of shallow or narrow and winding streams? 3. For either fliers or swimmers, would the existence of either prevailing or changeable currents be likely to influence the probability that they would use "true" distance or some form of work- or time-expenditure measure? (NOTE: the Nivkh (Gilyak) NatLang has inflections on both verbs and nouns for meanings related to "upstream" and "downstream". Also consider Ancient Egypt.) 4. What about space-going cultures? 5. What questions /should/ I have asked, that I didn't think of in time? Tom H.C. in MI


tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>