[Tagging] surface=ground/dirt/earth

Fernando Trebien fernando.trebien at gmail.com
Thu Mar 13 16:10:30 UTC 2014

In Portuguese, we have the same false friend as French, and I'd guess
Spanish and Italian have it too. At least for Portuguese, literal
translations of these terms (ground, dirt, earth and soil) correspond
exactly to your description, Steve. If we translate literally,
however, we're gonna see people tagging as "dirt" any place with trash
accumulation, and most people would pick "earth" for the pictures in
the wiki. Currently, "earth" is the least used value (only 7k
instances), whereas "ground" and "dirt" are used 500k and 350k times

On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM, Steve Doerr <doerr.stephen at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 13/03/2014 15:09, ael wrote:
>>  From another English person, I would say that "dirt" in British English
>> is understood to mean the substance which causes something to be "not
>> clean". That is it is much wider in meaning than soil or earth.  But it
>> is almost never used to mean soil or earth under your feet, although
>> that might be described as "dirty" or even "dirt" if telling a child to
>> avoid rolling in it.
>> However, maybe there are places where this is not true given Jonathan's
>> post, but whenever I hear it used that way, it has come from American
>> English. Of course, some American English reflects some old British
>> usage and dialects from a few centuries ago....
>> I tend to tag with "ground" where there are sections of soil (which
>> may be covered with vegetation for some parts of the year) and maybe be
>> rocky with sections of sand and gravel. I have just been mapping some
>> paths and tracks on Bodmin Moor which have all these characteristics
>> and no one tag seems really descriptive.
> For me (British English), 'ground' isn't a type of surface at all: it's
> usually preceded by the definite article ('the ground') and means 'the
> surface of the earth' (where 'earth' means the planet), but not necessarily
> in a natural state: a paved area can be 'the ground'. Inside a building,
> though, you talk of 'the floor'.
> 'Earth' as a substance is much the same as 'soil', except that soil makes
> one think specifically of earth as a growing medium for plants.
> There may be a 'false friend' in some languages, as 'the ground' roughly
> corresponds to 'le sol' in French, which nevertheless sometimes has the
> narrower meaning of 'soil'.
> --
> Steve
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Fernando Trebien
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