Border, boundary and frontier.

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piotr1980

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

Is it correct to use ''frontier'' in the context of ''a border'' in the following sentence :

There is a lot of immigrant crossing a frontier between Maroco and Spain.

I just want to know if ''a border'' = '' a frontier''.

Many thanks
Piotr
 
  • ienne

    Senior Member
    Croatia, Croatian
    Yes, British English uses frontiers (borders of countries). The frontier is the area in the western USA, an area where people never lived before, etc. Perfectly correct.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    The trick here is that Morocco and Spain do not quite border each other. :) There is water between them.

    In AE, "frontier" carries a connotation of a sparsely populated area. We do speak of frontier territories in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or frontiers in Mongolia or Nepal, borders between countries where there are very few people. I don't think we would say in AE, for example, the "frontier between France and Germany" since there are so many people along the border of France and Germany.

    If the two countries do not actually touch, are not actually contiguous, I don't think we would use either "border" or "frontier".

    If you are talking about a one-way movement, I would say:

    There is a lot of immigration from Morocco to Spain.

    If you are talking about two-way movement, which I understand is the case from a French broadcast I listened to, I would say:

    There is a lot of migration between Morocco and Spain.

    It could also be stated as:

    There is a lot of movement of migrant workers back and forth between Morocco and Spain.


    All of these don't feel very elegant to me. I'm sure someone else can improve on my limping sentences. :) (I'm not very fond of "There is a lot of" at the start of this sentence.)
     

    IBR

    Senior Member
    México Lindo y Querido - Español
    The way I use it and sense their use,


    I use border if it´s physical, and frontier if it´s more of an idea, completely intangible. Although, both words have the same meaning in the dictionary.

    I say British English has a different meaning than American English.

    That´s all.
     

    ienne

    Senior Member
    Croatia, Croatian
    Yes, that is its third abstract meaning as in frontiers of knowledge, etc.
    However BrE uses frontiers as in Troups established a road block on the frontier ; Lille is close to the frontier between France and Belgium.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    The trick here is that Morocco and Spain do not quite border each other. :) There is water between them.

    [...]
    Hello James,

    Wouldn't the water be a natural frontier/border, then?


    Tom

    PS: Piotr, I think your sentence would sound better (at least grammatically) if it read:
    There is are a lot of immigrants crossing a the frontier between Moroco and Spain.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Hello James,

    Wouldn't the water be a natural frontier/border, then?
    It would be a natural boundary for each of the countries, but it wouldn't be a shared border. Italy and Tunisia are on opposite sides of the same body of water, but I wouldn't say they shared a border. Morocco and Spain are closer together, but I think the same principle applies. The same would apply to Poland and Sweden, in my way of thinking. I would not say that they shared a border.
     

    duden

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Hi,
    may I add some more questions just to make this completely clear?
    If two countries touch (e.g. France and Germany), is it possible to say the following?

    France and Germany border each other.
    France borders Germany in the east.
    France has a border / a frontier with Germany.
    France´s longest border is the one with Germany.
    There is a town AT / ON the border of France and Germany.
    There is a town AT / ON the frontier of France and Germany.
    France borders (with, to) seven countries.
    Which countries does France border?

    Are these sentences grammatically correct and would you use them? How about those prepositions?
    Thank you very much
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Frontier seems like a word that is going out of fashion, at least as a term for the boundary between two countries.

    duden's sentences look good to me. My version of the prepositions:
    The town is on the border between France and Germany.
    France borders with seven countries.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    How about:
    Which countries does France border?
    and
    Which countries does France border with?
    What would be the difference in meaning?

    Tom
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Frontier seems like a word that is going out of fashion, at least as a term for the boundary between two countries.

    duden's sentences look good to me. :tick: My version of the prepositions:
    The town is on the border between France and Germany.
    France borders with seven countries.
    AE would generally prefer France shares borders with/borders on seven countries.
     

    iskndarbey

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Morocco does share a land border with Spain, incidentally (actually, two). It would be quite strange to say "crossing a frontier between Morocco and Spain" were that not the case.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    There are two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla.

    Spain considers them integral parts of Spain, and they are part of the European Union.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    There may be a specialized legal distinction, in which case a legal dictionary would be your best resource. But maybe we have some legal experts here. :)

    In my everyday language I would use "boundary" to be more general, indicating a simple limit and "frontier" would refer to a political entity.
     

    sasho

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    Hi there,

    To my understanding, a boundary is the actual demarcated line between two or more countries (usually called a border) and a frontier is less defined - it's more the region around the border, usually fortified.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    In broad terms,

    A border is as far as you can go without something changing. For example, you can have a border to a piece of cloth, a picture, villages, towns, cities, counties, a land mass, etc.


    A frontier is as far as you have gone and do not know what is beyond. You can have a frontier in a newly discovered land, space, your knowledge, science, art, etc.


    The only place where border and frontier coincide is where two countries meet and here, border is the usual word.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    In broad terms,

    A border is as far as you can go without something changing. For example, you can have a border to a piece of cloth, a picture, villages, towns, cities, counties, a land mass, etc.


    A frontier is as far as you have gone and do not know what is beyond. You can have a frontier in a newly discovered land, space, your knowledge, science, art, etc.


    The only place where border and frontier coincide is where two countries meet and here, border is the usual word.
    Having read your explanations, I'd like to know if it's wrong to say "push back the borders of science" because, in my view, it implies no technological advancement at all. "Frontier", when used in a metaphorical sense, suggests what lies ahead is unlimited. If you want to mean advancing new ways, breaking new ground, you should use pushing/rolling back the frontiers, rather than pushing/rolling back the boarders.

    Example: The government invested significantly in technology to roll back the frontiers of science
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Is it just me, or is there a suggestion of menace or hostility in the use of frontier? I could easily talk about the frontier of the West (where Indian country began), the North-West frontier of India (during the 19th-century Afghan wars), and the unexplored frontiers of space (beyond which are bug-eyed monsters).

    But an established boundary between civilised countries would more probably be called a border. Certainly within the UK we talk of the Welsh border, and the counties of southern Scotland are known as the Borders.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Is it just me, or is there a suggestion of menace or hostility in the use of frontier?
    ...
    No, it's not :)
    And that fits in with what PaulQ said a post or two earlier - that there's something alien, something unknown, on the other side of the frontier.

    As a matter of curiosity, the UK's land border with Ireland was, in the past, often referred to as the frontier.
    There's a Wikipedia article on the topic that is a good example of confusion in terminology, or of both words being used for the same thing :)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Ireland–United_Kingdom_border
     

    Harry-Potter

    Banned
    Polish
    Bearing in mind what's been said in this thread, it wouldn't be a good idea to use the word 'frontier' in the following question?

    Which cities are close to the frontier between Poland and Germany?


     
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