[Tagging] Updating definition and description of place=square

Paul Allen pla16021 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 27 12:01:10 UTC 2020


On Tue, 24 Mar 2020 at 14:09, Martin Koppenhoefer <dieterdreist at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Am Di., 24. März 2020 um 14:07 Uhr schrieb Paul Allen <pla16021 at gmail.com
> >:
>
>> An area that was once used as a town square (hard-surfaced place where
>> the public
>> congregate and may or may not be used for meetings) may retain the name
>> "Foo Square" even though it is now a car park or a bus station.
>>
>
> Maybe there is a fundamental difference in the expectations of what a town
> square constitutes, e.g. in English as compared to German or Italian?
>

It's starting to look that way.

>From my understanding, a square is about a spatial configuration, but it
> does not imply any specific function and does not exclude that there is a
> car park or bus station _on_ the square.
>

This is untrue of British English, when speaking of town squares.  In
geometry
a square is a particular shape, a subset of the class of rectangles,  In the
geometrical sense objects can be square regardless of their function.  But
when you're talking (in British English) about a town square you're talking
about a specific function, rather than the shape.

A town square need not be square.  It could be in a village or hamlet rather
than a town.  It usually has a hard surface (or it would probably be better
mapped as a park).  It is usually bounded by roads and/or buildings, but not
necessarily so on all sides (one or more sides could be a border with a
field).
People can go there either as individuals to contemplate, or to congregate
for
some pre-arranged purpose.  There may be a few seats here and there, but
not so
many as to fall into the category of picnic area or outdoor seating area.
It may or
may not have the word "square" in its name; not all places with "square" in
the
name are town squares (but may once have been).  It is open to the public.

The above is a broad generalization, of course.  An alternative (but
broadly similar) view of it is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Town_square
Particularly useful in that article is the translation of town square into
other countries: "platz" (German), "piazza" (Italy), "markt" (Netherlands)
because the town square is sometimes used as a market place,
plaza (Spain).

I wouldn't quibble about minor deviations from my definition or the
Wikipedia
one: it's primarily about function and if the locals think of it as a town
square
then it's a town square even if it has far too many seats and planters
filled with vegetation for my liking.  But it's not about having a square
shape or having "square" in the name - a lot of places in the US have
"square" in the name despite being irregular in shape and not being
public squares.

-- 
Paul
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