ticticbang   Thursday, July 15, 2004, 02:59 GMT

hey pals

once I was watching a movie and someone said:

''he run away to South America''

anyway,something came into my mind and kept telling me:
shouldn't be Southern America !


my question is:

why do say :

south africa
north america
east germany
west germay

sholdn't be better if we said:


thank you again
Jim   Thursday, July 15, 2004, 03:47 GMT
Yeah, maybe but it's not worth loosing sleep over. In Australia there are two states called "Western Australia" and "South Australia". It seems there is no rhyme or reason to it.
Damian   Thursday, July 15, 2004, 07:10 GMT
Same here in Jim says, no logical's just how it is. Here it is Southern England or Northern England usually, although you can say the South of England or the North of England. Frequently it's just the South or the North.

In Scotland whenever anyone says the South it is a reference to England as a whole. Anywhere south of the border is just called The South. forgot the Northern Territory! Why's that.....bad experience in Alice Springs? :-)
Dulcinea del Toboso   Thursday, July 15, 2004, 19:17 GMT

It's not entirely illogical.

"southern X" means the southern part of X, taking X as a whole, undivided, region. For example, "southern France".

"south X" sometimes means the same as "southern x", but often it is used to distinguish a discrete entity, in this case a continent.

Likewise, "eastern L.A." has a different connotation than "east L.A.". The former is more of a geographical description; the latter refers to an ethnic community as an entity.
Damian   Thursday, July 15, 2004, 20:14 GMT
Here people always seem to say the South of France. I've never heard anyone say Southern France to be truthful but Southern England all the time. Strange but I get your explanation, Dulcinea.
Random Chappie   Thursday, July 15, 2004, 21:15 GMT
That makes sense...

South America is a continent in its own right.
North Korea is a sovereign state.
South San Francisco has its own council, separate from that of San Francisco.
East Berlin was completely sealed off from West Berlin.

Southern England is a part of a country, so is Northern China.
Eastern Europe is the eastern half of Europe, a single continent.
Jim   Friday, July 16, 2004, 00:11 GMT
Random Chappie and Dulcinea del Toboso,

Yeah, that idea had run through my head but then I found a couple of counter examples. Western Australia is a state in its own right. It is no different from South Australia in this respect. Of course the Northern Territory is a territory not a state. Perhaps it's a general rule of thumb but these rules are so often broken that there is still no rhyme nor reason to it in the end.
Criostóir   Friday, July 16, 2004, 02:20 GMT
Just to add a few more lovely examples of English's weird usage:

Southern/Northern California
South/North Dakota, South/North Carolina

Eastern Seaboard but West Coast

and a good Canadian one:

The Northwest Territories but Québec's Eastern Townships

Le meas,

Julian   Friday, July 16, 2004, 04:00 GMT
"Southern/Northern California but South/North Dakota, South/North Carolina"

When basing this on Dulcinea's logical explanation, this one example makes perfect sense, since North/South Dakota and North/South Carolina are the names of separate states with well-defined political boundaries. Whereas, Northern/Southern California are adjectives designating regions of a single state (although there are certain Californians who wish the two regions would actually separate).

"Eastern Seaboard but West Coast"

Yes, but there's also "East Coast vs West Coast". And even though one hardly ever hears the term used, there's the US "Southern Seaboard" which is the region encompassing the southeastern coastal states. So... "Eastern Seaboard", as opposed to "Southern Seaboard".
Damian   Friday, July 16, 2004, 07:16 GMT
Taking a global view:

Northern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
CG   Friday, July 16, 2004, 16:56 GMT
ticticbang asked why we say things like South Africa, North america, East Germany and West Germany instead of Southern, Northern, Eastern, Western, etc.

Well, I can answer for South Africa. That is a country in Southern Africa. It is not the whole of Southern Africa, just the South-most tip.