Words: City or town?

Potreste penare che la differenza tra town e city sia legata alla dimensione del comune, come in italiano… ma, non è proprio così, perlomeno non nel Regno Unito. In UK si chiama city un comune che ha una cattedrale, anche se piccolissimo. Paradossalmente la Greater London è definita town. Scoprine di più guardando questo video e sul numero di maggio di Speak Up!


Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

How do you describe communities in English? Well, the smallest place is a hamlet (1), then you have a village, then you have a town, and then you have a city. Now, in most countries in the world a city is called a city because it is larger than a town, and this is usually the case (2) in English, but in actual fact (3) in English the definition – or at least (4) in England – the definition of a city isn’t so much a big community as a big community which has a cathedral. And we have this rather (5) strange situation in Britain that there is a village in Wales  called St. Davids, and it only has a few hundred inhabitants but because it has a cathedral it is referred to as a city. Now, you could be forgiven (6) for thinking that London is a city, but that is only part of the story. There are two Londons: there’s the City of London, which is the old Roman city and now the… the financial capital of Britain, if not the world, and this has St. Paul’s Cathedral, and therefore that is a city in its own right, but when people talk about the City of London they are only referring to that part of London. For the rest of London they usually use the expression “town,” which is bizarre, given that it has a population of eight million people. And it consists of the City of London, the City of Westminster, which is Central London, where the Parliament is and most of the other important buildings and institutions, and then all the outer boroughs (7), but whenever you talk… about London in English – the whole of London – you normally refer to it as a town and not a city. This is very confusing, I know: many English people find this hard to understand.


1    hamlet: frazione, borgo
2    this is usually the case: succede solitamente così
3    in actual fact: in realtà
4    at least: almeno
5    rather: piuttosto
6    forgiven: perdonati
7    outer boroughs: zone periferiche

Per leggere l’articolo di Speak Up su Londra (Life in the City, Maggio 2015)  clicca qui

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