[Tagging] surface=ground/dirt/earth

Jaakko Helleranta.com jaakko at helleranta.com
Thu Mar 13 05:05:29 UTC 2014

My (non-native) English understanding / ear says that dirt is a general
name for all unpaved roads. This may include any loose material, really
ranging from soil that just happened to be there to natural or processed
sand to industrially produced gravel, possibly with an added layer of
"loose" material spread on top of the gravel to make it less loose (eg rock
ash). So, as far as I classify / understand, dirt roads _may_ be quite well

Now, earth and ground both give me a strong connotation of a road (or a
borderline track) that is practically not built. Or at least the surface
material is not processed sand or gravel and certainly it doesn't have a
"finishing layer" such as rock ash.
This said I would also consider earth=ground surfaced roads as being
clearly more prone to bad condition after rains (or melted snow, etc).

So, I would say that earth and ground are synonyms but dirt is the broader
concept. In fact I would see dirt pretty much synonymous to unpaved - but
would hesitate to nuke one of those over another as I would not be
surprised if a bunch of people would see this differently.

How do others here understand these terms?

.. Whose family's summer cottage in Finland has a pretty well
self-constructed 1.5km strip of dirt road leading to it with sand base,
gravel top, rock ash finishing layer.

Sent from my Android device. * +505-8845-3391 * http://about.me/jaakkoh

There are 3 values for surface (ground, dirt and earth) that are
described as "probably equivalent" in the wiki. The pictures tell a
slightly different story: ground seems to allow the presence of
"grass" along with "usage marks" (car or pedestrian tracks), as does
earth, whereas dirt seems to include no grass and include the
possibility of "mud" after rainfall.

TagInfo shows that "earth" is significantly less used than the other
two. Could we officially recommend against that value then? Having so
many equal things makes translation (and teaching) much harder than
necessary, and I don't see when an application would differentiate
between these values.

I tried searching for their definitions in English dictionaries, but
they point to each other as synonyms. "Earth" is sometimes cited as a
"poetic description" of soil. "Ground" could describe anything from
"soil" to harder surfaces. I believe the most accurate description
would actually be something along the lines of "bare soil" (confirmed
by comparing results in Google Images).

Fernando Trebien
+55 (51) 9962-5409

"The speed of computer chips doubles every 18 months." (Moore's law)
"The speed of software halves every 18 months." (Gates' law)

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