aisle vs. transept

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reka39

Banned
Italian
Hello!
I wonder if you consider the transepts as "aisles". I mean if someone doesn't know the word "transept", it is acceptable to call it "aisle"?
Thank you!!
 
  • french4beth

    Senior Member
    US-English
    hi reka39,

    I have never heard the term "transept", I don't think that most native speakers would know what it means. But "aisle" is commonly used.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I had to look it up as well. In a church, it runs perpendicular to what most people would think of as the aisle. I think it is sometimes called a "cross aisle".
     

    Donny Jepp

    New Member
    Austria (German)
    When you talk about certain features of architecture (esp. of a church), you probably want to stick to the technical term transept (as opposed to apse, nave, choir ambulatory, etc.).

    In order to explain what it is, cross aisle as suggested by Myridon sounds quite illustrative, so to speak.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Most native speakers know nothing about the parts of a church. 'Transept' is one of many technical terms that won't mean anything to most people. I don't think there's any point using made-up terms in the hope that they will understand. You just have to use the correct term, and explain what it means.
     

    reka39

    Banned
    Italian
    Most native speakers know nothing about the parts of a church. 'Transept' is one of many technical terms that won't mean anything to most people. I don't think there's any point using made-up terms in the hope that they will understand. You just have to use the correct term, and explain what it means.
    I share your view. If "cross aisle" is just a made-up term, it is better to spend some time explaining what a "transept" is rather than using fancy expression.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    An aisle usually is a continuous stretch of space running down the length of a church, on the inside, of course.

    A cross-aisle runs perpendicular to the length of a church: it is a continuous stretch of space running across the church.

    Transepts (most cruciform chuches have two, of course) run perpendicular to the length of the church, from the crossing, and the word is used to cover the whole structure, not just the internal space it encloses.

    Some grand Christian churches, like Cluny III in Burgundy, deviate from a simple cruciform plan and have a shape more like the Cross of Lorraine. In this case they have four transepts and two cross-aisles.
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Exploring a little from Packard's link, I was surprised to find that an 'aisle' in architectural jargon is not what we think of when we picture the bride walking down the aisle.

    http://www.pitt.edu/~medart/menuglossary/aisle.htm

    .
    I'm sorry you should have received this impression, Rival. I assure you the diagram is misleading.

    This aisles indicated at Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire are the side-aisles; between them runs the central aisle, down which we may happily picture the bride walking.

    I think the problem is that the word comes from aile the French for a wing, so it originally meant something on the side.

    These days most people talking about churches include the central aisle in the total number, and a church with a nave and two side aisles would be called a church with three aisles.

    P.S. I hope this may help clarify the use of the word:

    There is a strict architects' use of the word, derived from the etymology, from the idea of its being a wing, in which the aisles of a church are as indicated in the diagram in the link. In this sense a cross-aisle is an absurdity.

    There is a general use of the word, familiar to many people who have studied churches and worshipped in them, in which the aisles of a church are the walkways of a church, most of them longitudinal, the side aisles, the central aisle (the nave), but some of them maybe lateral (the cross-aisles). In this use there is a remnant of the original stricter sense, because people standing in the nave might refer to people in the aisles, as standing in the longitudinal passages on either side.

    My initial explanation in post 8# was concerned with the general use of the word; the link refers to the strict architects' sense.
     
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    Aardvark01

    Senior Member
    British English (Midlands)
    I'm sorry you should have received this impression, Rival. I assure you the diagram is misleading.

    This aisles indicated at Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire are the side-aisles; between them runs the central aisle, down which we may happily picture the bride walking. ...
    The Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire diagram has no pews and presumably this is why there is no central aisle (in layman's terms) in the nave (in architectural terms).
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Most native speakers know nothing about the parts of a church. 'Transept' is one of many technical terms that won't mean anything to most people. I don't think there's any point using made-up terms in the hope that they will understand. You just have to use the correct term, and explain what it means.
    I agree. The only situation where I would use "transept" would be something like this:

    The transept crossed the main aisle at a right angle.

    or

    The transept, an aisle at right angles to the main aisle, was...
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree. The only situation where I would use "transept" would be something like this:

    The transept crossed the main aisle at a right angle.

    or

    The transept, an aisle at right angles to the main aisle, was...
    I wouldn't be entirely happy with either of these, Packard, because a transept is a structural feature and the aisle an internal elongated space. I think it misleading to call a transept an aisle, particularly as the cross-aisle runs through two transepts usually.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I wouldn't be entirely happy with either of these, Packard, because a transept is a structural feature and the aisle an internal elongated space. I think it misleading to call a transept an aisle, particularly as the cross-aisle runs through two transepts usually.
    My examples may not have been the best, but the idea behind them is solid. Use the word, then define it within the sentence. In that way you can have the satisfaction of using the correct terminology and also the satisfaction of knowing that you are communicating to the intended audience.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    particularly as the cross-aisle runs through two transepts usually.
    Most of the architectural sites that I looked at included both sides and the middle as part of one transept, though Merriam-Webster adds "also : either of the projecting ends of a transept" (which is a rather contradictorily circular definition).
    It does seem to be correct that the cross-aisle would be contained within the transept(s) and is not the transept(s) itself.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    My examples may not have been the best, but the idea behind them is solid. Use the word, then define it within the sentence. In that way you can have the satisfaction of using the correct terminology and also the satisfaction of knowing that you are communicating to the intended audience.
    You suggest that the transept is an aisle, and this if far from a solid idea. That was my point. If the definition is incorrect you mislead your intended audience.

    As your simple definition above correctly states, the transept is part of the fabric of the church, the aisle part of the space so enclosed.

    An aisle, in the non-ecclesiastical sense, is a passage between seats, as in the aisles of a theatre or the aisles between the seats in an aeroplane. Maybe the bride can be considered to walk down the aisle in that she is walking down the central passage between the pews. I suggested this above.
     
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