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Re: Afrasian?

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Sunday, October 13, 2002, 15:59
Andreas Johansson writes:
 > Tim May wrote:
 > >  > >  > No. In "Eurasia" the two components are more or less equally
 > >  > >  > represented.
 > >  > >
 > >  > >Let's not forget, also, that Europe is a lot smaller.  If we were only
 > >  > >now to name the continents for the first time, no-one would create
 > >  > >Asia and Europe.
 > >  >
 > >  > For the very good reason that Asia and Europe aren't continents.
 > >  >
 > >
 > >From any objective geographical viewpoint, I agree with you, but that
 > >is how they are defined, at least in English. The terms come from a
 > >time when Europeans had no real idea of the scale of Asia and Africa.
 > This one of those points where my native language (Swedish) is so much more
 > sensible than English; _kontinent_ is "continent" in the
 > geographical/-logical sense, _världsdel_, lit "world part", is one of the
 > traditional divisions of the earth, eg Europe, Asia or Oceania. Africa and
 > Antarctica are obviously both _kontinenter_ and _världsdelar_;  North and
 > South America are clearly two separate _kontinenter_, but variously one or
 > two _världsdelar_, called simply _Amerika_ in the later case.

Interesting.  Here's the definition of "continent" from the _New
Oxford Dictionary of English_:

|Continent 1 >noun any of the world's main continuous expanses of land
|(Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Australia, Antarctica).

Anything that's continuous we can call a landmass.  There's some
latitude in the area of isthmuses as to what "continuous" means -
Eurasia + Africa could be one landmass or two.  North and South
America are definitely continents, and either one or two landmasses.
Central America may be considered to be divided between North and
South, or as a seperate entity (not a continent in its own right
though).  Smaller entities, and non-continuous things like Australasia
or Oceania, are generally called regions.

At least, that is how I understand these terms.  Other
English-speakers may disagree.