an itinerant cobbler

epistolario

Senior Member
Tagalog
Let's say James temporarily lived in a developing country for a while. One time, his shoe needed repair. On the way to a shop, he coincidentally met an itinerant cobbler on the road, who repaired his shoe at half the price. This cobbler travels from place to place to offer his services because he cannot afford to rent a place. When James writes this experience in his autobiography, will native English speakers find the term itinerant cobbler natural? I'm asking because cobbler is labeled as old-fashioned by one dictionary.
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm asking because cobbler is labeled as old-fashioned by one dictionary.
    Please let us know which dictionary rather than saying "one dictionary". I can think of a handful of cobblers in my local area.
    will native English speakers find the term itinerant cobbler natural?
    This one does, and I can't see that it matters who James is - you have already told us that James was in a developing country, met a cobbler who travelled from place to place because he (the cobbler) had no fixed workplace, and had his shoes repaired. James met an itinerant cobbler. It's the obvious phrase to use and any alternative would be far more wordy.
     

    Byoof

    Senior Member
    English - Southern US
    While the word cobbler is drawing all the fire, I think that itinerant is the part that sounds old-fashioned, creating images of the itinerant judge or the itinerant preacher on the American frontier or in the Wild West.

    I image that these days cobbler, and perhaps itinerant too, is used more frequently in England than in the US, but from an AmE perspective, I generally agree that it is "a little formal but perfectly acceptable", as PaulQ says. It becomes less formal the farther back in time the autobiography is set.

    If in current times and in a currently developing country, I might go with "a sidewalk shoe repairman."
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I'd use "traveling" "rather than "sidewalk" if James meets the person on the road and the person travels from place to place.
    I agree that "itinerant cobbler" is uncommon but understandable in AmE, especially if the context indicates that James was on the road and that the person repaired his shoe.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I'd use "traveling" "rather than "sidewalk" if James meets the person on the road and the person travels from place to place.
    I agree that "itinerant cobbler" is uncommon but understandable in AmE, especially if the context indicates that James was on the road and that the person repaired his shoe.
    :thumbsup:
    I think the context in the OP is exemplary.
     

    LVRBC

    Senior Member
    English-US, standard and medical
    It's a good description.Cobbler is a common word in US-English and not in any way out of date; I actually know two cobblers personally. Itinerant is a high-register word. It works in an autobiography but would not work in a casual conversation at the hardware store.
     
    Last edited:
    Top