Question For You

Can you walk across a country by going North/South (or vice versa)? Or is it implicitly an East/West (or vice versa) travel?

Posted by vinny9 on August 5, 2009 with category tags of

6 comments
I think it would be wrong to assume it can only be East/West because "across" suggests covering a substantial amount distance. So what if a country is really narrow and long? Think Chile.
   comment by Maryam (#72) on August 7, 2009

People in the UK traditionally cross country by going from John O'Groats in Scotland to Land's End in Cornwall. This is admittedly going east-west, but considerably farther north-south. I'm not sure about Japan and New Zealand, but I think you would have to visit the north and south islands of both those countries to say that you had gone across both of those countries. Otherwise, going "across the country" would be a one-hour drive. So I agree with Maryam, it's only the countries that are wide east-west that "across" means east-west, although this tends to be most of the biggest countries.
   comment by chrisdye on August 8, 2009

I think it's implicitly east-west, though only because of the completely arbitrary conventions of cartography that makes west "left" and east "right", and because of the connotations of the word "across". "Across" (to me, anyway), implies "side to side", not "top to bottom", so it doesn't really make conceptual sense to me to describe a north-south trip as going "across" anything. No doubt Gil can explain the linguistic mumbo-jumbo behind this.

On a side note, as a British person I would NEVER describe the John O'Groats-Land's End trip as going across the country. That trip is going from end to end; going "across" the country means Glasgow to Edinburgh (or Cornwall to London).
   comment by goodladd (#144) on August 8, 2009

Oh, I see. Cool, then-- add Scotland to the list of countries I've been across!
(It's a pretty short list: Canada, South Africa, and if I want to cheat, Monaco and Vatican City. Only made it halfway across Barbados and Singapore...)




   comment by chrisdye on August 8, 2009

Isn't Scotland a nation?

No, wait, distinct society?

east-west : across
north-south : ???

longitudinally traverse?
   comment by Bryan (#22) on August 8, 2009

That Scotland was once independent several hundred years ago is reason enough for British people to keep calling it a country. Scots also call themselves a nation. Greenland is the only place I can think of that is officially a disctinct society. (There may be others I don't know about.)
   comment by chrisdye on August 12, 2009

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