Leaght y Ghaaue

Last night I went to a fascinating lecture in Manx about Venice which covered the city’s history, architecture, transport and much more. It was given by Bob Carswell, a Manx speaker, translator, poet and broadcaster who regularly talks with great enthusiasm about a wide range of topics on his radio programme, Claare ny Gael.

The type of language used and the information discussed was university level, and while I didn’t understand every word, and got a bit lost when he was explaining some of the technicalities of how the city was built, I was able to understand most of the lecture.

One thing he mentioned was the many different terms there are in Venice for streets, lanes, alleyways, etc, including via (street), calle (a walkway between two buildings), calleta (a narrower calle), salizada (a broader calle), ruga (a calle with lots of shops -from French, rue), rio (small canal), rio terrà / terà (filled-in canal), fondamenta (a walkway that runs along a rio or the lagoon), and sotoportego (a covered walkway through a building).

There are also quite a few terms used in street names in English – street, road, lane, alley, passage, close, drive, place, green, croft, way, grove, gardens, end, crescent, bank, and so on.

Is the same true in other languages?

This entry was posted in English, Italian, Language, Manx.

18 Responses to Leaght y Ghaaue

  1. peter j. franke says:

    In Dutch: straat (street); laan (lane, but laantje: small lane = alley); weg (road)// wei in Frisian and vej in Danish, veg in Swedish; steeg (alley); pad (path/alley); dijk: dike (in Frisian dyk is a road as well as a dike); passage: passage (pronounced as in French); kade: kay in Zeeland: kaai); haven: harbour; gracht: canal; kanaal: canal; sloot: ditch; boulevard: esplanade/sea front (pronounced as in French); strandweg: beach-road. etc.

  2. peter j. franke says:

    Dutch: straat: street; weg: road (Frisian: wei; Danish vej; Swedish: veg); laan: lane; steeg: alley; laantje: alley; passage ( pronounced like French: passage; dijk: dike(but dyk in Frisian is a general term for a road as well as a dike); gracht: canal; kanaal: canal; sloot: ditch; oever: shore; bpulevard (like French): esplanade, sea front; pad: path; tuin: garden; park: park; plein: square; ring: circle. etc.

  3. Christopher Miller says:

    Actually, French ‘rue’ comes from Latin ‘ruga’.

    I remember quite of variety in names for streets in the Netherlands: straat, laan, weg, gracht (a street that was originally an urban canal – ‘gracht’ or runs alongside one), dwarsstraat (cross-street; ‘dwars’ is cognate to ‘(a)thwart’), plein (a square), steeg (narrow alleyway). There are quite a few others that I don’t remember right now.

  4. FelixCatus says:

    In Portuguese we get rua (street), ruela (small street), via (way), viela (narrow street or alley), beco (alley), travessa (alley), quelha (alley), alameda (avenue with trees, same as boulevard), avenida (avenue), betesga (alley), congosta (narrow and long street), passadiço (walkway though a building or linking two streets), calhe (narrow street, like calle in Italian), angiporto (narrow street)… I think there are more, but I can’t really recall right now.

  5. Tommy says:

    In Japanese, these are some of the most common:

    street: 通り (toori, lit. “through”)
    road: 道 (michi, “way”), 道路 (douro, “way route”)
    avenue: 大通り (oodoori, “big street”)
    freeway: 高速道路 (kousoku douro, “high speed way route”)
    back street/alley: 裏通り (uradoori “behind street”)
    sidewalk: 歩道 (hodou, “walk way”)
    lane: 小道 (komichi, “small way)

    others (according to my dictionary) but not so common:

    街路 (gairo, “town route”), street/avenue
    車道 (shadou, “car way”), street/road
    横町 (yokochou, “side city”), side road/alley
    路地 (roji, “path ground”), alley
    細道 (hosomichi, “narrow way”), path/lane
    幹線道路 (kansen douro, “trunk/main line way route”), highway
    通路 (tsuuro, “through route”), passage/aisle
    道筋 (michisuji, “way nerve”), route
    経路 (keiro, “via route”), route/channel

  6. Christopher Miller says:

    Another Dutch one I remember from Gouda (where I went to see my chiropractor) is werf – a wharf. The chiropractor’s office was on a little street called Tjalkwerf (a tjalk being a sort of sailbarge, Frisian I believe). There were several ‘werf’ streets in that newer part of Gouda north of the train tracks. These dijk, sloot, werf, gracht and kanaal names for streets all come from the Netherlands being such a watery country.

  7. Arakun says:

    Here’s my attempt at a list of Swedish words:
    väg (road), gata (street), gränd (alley), led (way, route, thoroughfare), passage, promenad (walk), stig (path), allé/aveny (avenue), esplanad/boulevard, stråk (passage, thoroughfare), stråt (way, path), ring, krok (hook, bend), sund (strait), strada

  8. Karin J says:

    There are not that many synonyms for street in Swedish. The only ones that I can think of are; gata (street), väg (road), gränd (ally), stig (path), led (larger road, route).
    Open spaces in a town are either torg (marketplace), plats (square) or plan (open space).

  9. b_jonas says:

    There are quite a few such words used in Hungarian. You can extract the most frequent ones from the postal code database you can download freely, as this lists the names of all roads in the six towns that have non-uniform postal codes. It turns out that the most frequent words are:

    utca (75%), út (8%), köz (4%), tér (4%), dűlő, sor, sétány, park, lépcső, krt., útja, dülő, lejtő, tere, körút, sugárút, útja, telep, tanya, hegy, rakpart, fasor, udvar, völgy, liget, kert, part.

    Of these, “krt.” is probably an inconsistency in the tables, as it should be spelt out fully as körút; “dülő” might be an error or it might actually be how those roads are called; “tere” and “útja” are declensions which occur in place names with possessive such as “Hősök tere”; and “tanya” (and perhaps “telep” too) do not count for what you’re collecting here for these are not roads or similar.

  10. Here in Brussels there are a couple more in Dutch, but I have the suspicion that they are translations of French and don’t occur in Dutch elsewhere – can any Dutch speakers confirm? Here we have “steenweg” (chaussée in French) and there is also at least one “voorplein” (parvis in French)…

  11. Macsen says:

    Traditionally in Wales towns were places of English domination and so streets would have English names and maybe unofficial Welsh venacular names. For instance, Womanby St in Cardiff in English but Heol y Fuwch Goch (Red Cow Street) in Welsh. So places have different names in Welsh and English.

    Over the past four decades of so, Welsh towns and villages have started giving monolingual Welsh names to streets and also Welsh names for formerly monolingual English names. This has lead to the creation of new words. So, Avenue in English ‘Rhodfa’ (‘walking’ + the popular ‘fa’ place); ‘cilgant’ a direct translation of ‘crecent’.

    One word linked to roads which I learnt recently is the Welsh word ‘ffos’ (ditch or trench) usually used to describe the ditch on either side to a country road. I presume the word comes from the Latin ‘fosse’ (?) for road?

  12. David Dungan says:

    Same in Ireland as Wales lots of names but all of English descent

    ascaill = avenue
    sráid = street
    pairc = park
    bóthar = road
    lána = lane
    plás = place
    céide = drive

    Bóthar is the only real Irish which directly translates to ‘Cow Pass’!

  13. Yenx says:

    A problem I see here: What is a new word and what is a variation of another? The ‘calleta’ in the post is obviously just a diminutive of ‘calle’.
    Furthermore, some languages tend to combine nouns, like the example “strandweg”, which in English would be “beach road”. However, in these languages, “beach road” typically has several possible translations, conveying slightly different meanings.
    One example from my native Swedish is a small road in Stockholm, named “Årstaskogs väg” ([translation in attempt of showing conveyed meaning]: the road of Årsta [place name] forest), which often is miswritten in several (grammatically equally correct) ways: “Årsta skogs väg” (the road of the forest of Årsta), “Årsta skogsväg” (the forest-road of Årsta), “Årstaskogsvägen” (the road of the Årsta forest).

    And to add to the list of possible Swedish endings: backe (slope), brant (steep slope), sväng (curve), dal (valley).
    One common name of roads in the far south of Sweden, from the old Scanian language, is “fädriften”. “Fä” is an old word for “animal” or “cattle”, “drift” derived from the verb “driva” – “herd”, “-en” is a definite marker. This means the road that was once used to herd cattle back and forth between farms and meadows.

  14. Stuart, London says:

    Erm, what does the title of the post mean?

  15. Simon says:

    The title means literally ‘the lecture of the blacksmith’ – it’s a lecture in memory of John J. Kneen, aka Y Ghaaue (the blacksmith).

  16. Tommy says:

    Yenx – I like your question, “What is a new word and what is a variation of another?”

    One answer that may make sense is simple “nuance”. This word bothers some people because it sounds so ethereal and mystical. If you accept “nuance” as strange but real, it may make variations of things seem less threatening to the thing’s essence.

    As a pratical matter of putting different words in a list (like a dictionary) and deciding whether or not to include diminutives and other variations and related etymologies of words, the temporary solution is to reduce to the most obvious common factors. This probably won’t satisfy you very long, though, because you know that a “back street” and a “street” (or the “equivalents” in your native language) are different in not so obvious ways.

    I had a hard time accepting this concept when I started learning Japanese. I kept hearing variations of “そうです” (sou desu) ”そうですね” (sou desu ne) ”そうですか” (sou desu ka) ”そうね” (sou ne) ”ね” (ne) ”ですね” (desu ne) ”だよね” (da yo ne) ”そうですよ” (sou desu yo ne), etc. These are all variations of a kind of English “oh really” “exactly.” “is that right?” etc, but no explanation full satifies the hungry mind.

    Ultimately these are human sounds vibrating mostly out of native speakers’ mouths and minds. They cannot and perhaps should not be learned by breaking down the etymology and applying logic of diminutives and augmentatives, etc.

    If you want to venture down into more profound questions of words, I think we need another thread and lots of dialogue with a variety of experienced thinkers.

  17. hotball says:

    In Taiwan, most road names ended with

    1. (most commonly) 路 (lu) means road, such as 和平東路 He Ping East Road
    2. (roughly as common) 街 (jie) means street, such as 泰順街 Tai Shung Street
    3. (very few) 大道 (da dao) mean avenue, such as 市民大道 Citizen Avenue

    smaller roads such as alleys are generally not named, but numbered. Larger ones are called 巷 smaller 弄. For example, 和平東路二段 18 巷 3 弄 means a small alley (no. 3) from a larger alley (no. 18) in the section 2 of He Ping East Road.

    I’m not aware of other names of roads, but if there’s any there must be very few of them.

  18. schuetzm says:

    @macsen (11): It’s latin “fossa”, which means “ditch”.

%d bloggers like this: