city vs town

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by ellypunk88, Feb 27, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. ellypunk88 Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Can anybody tell me what's the difference between city and town?
     
  2. k_georgiadis

    k_georgiadis Senior Member

    NJ, USA
    English (AE)
    The difference is in population, the city being the larger place. A population center that is larger than a village but smaller than a city is called a town.
     
  3. Leo57 Senior Member

    Yorkshire
    UK English
    Hi there
    I've always believed that here in the UK cities were so named because they had a cathedral. However, I have just discovered this website which says otherwise. :( level_3_cities.asp
    Having said that though, the City of Wells in Somerset does claim to be the smallest city in England (and even that claim is open to question by Wiki) so it does not always follow that all cities are larger than towns, but most of them will be.


    (All my beliefs are being shattered by the internet!!:D)

    wells_cathedral.jpg

    Ciao
    Leo:)
     
  4. ellypunk88 Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Thank you very much!!
    So if I would translate in italian "town and city" using 2 differets words this should not be done?
     
  5. Scherle

    Scherle Senior Member

    la ciudad de Angeles, Filipinas
    Filipino, and English
    A compactly settled area usually larger than a village but smaller than a city is called TOWN. On the other hand hand city is an inhabited place of greater size, population, or importance than a town or village.
     
  6. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australia
    Australian English
    Oxford Paravia translates both city and town as città. Maybe you could translate town as piccola città.
     
  7. bellastella Member

    USA; English
    or translate town as paese.
     
  8. ellypunk88 Member

    Italy
    Italian
    ok, so I have just to point out the difference of width
    thank you ^^
     
  9. StephPenn Member

    Umbria
    UK - English
    To (hopefully) clarify,

    In the UK, a city is very specifically identified as a 'town' that has a cathedral - as a previous reply has stated. There are many very large towns in the UK that petition to have City status (eg., Reading) as it gives them some economic advantages.

    This rule for the status of town vs. city is old-fashioned, yet still used as a differentiator in the UK. Tradition is not always a good thing... For example, St. David's in Wales is a city (because it has a Cathedral) yet is much smaller than many UK towns!

    Other countries have different criteria on which the difference between a town and a city are based.

    Here in Italy, the term 'città' applies to both a town or a city - how sensible!!

    I hope this helps,
     
  10. Kishu

    Kishu Senior Member

    Florence
    Italy - Italian
    How do you native English speakers call little Italian towns like Firenze, Pisa, Siena etc...? Town or city?

    Thank you for clearing a very frequent doubt
     
  11. Janey UK

    Janey UK Senior Member

    Norfolk, England
    Native speaker of British English
    Hmmm, perhaps I'm a little strange, but mentally I think of Firenze as a city, and Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Arezzo etc as towns. I think of Firenze as a city because of its cultural importance and because it has so much to offer its visitors (and maybe because it's 'the capital city of Tuscany' and because it appears in "city-break" brochures in English travel agencies). It's probably also for this reason that I always mentally think of Venezia as a city.

    I guess I think of Italy as having a few cities (Roma, Milano, Genova, Napoli, Bari, Firenze and Venezia) and many many charming towns...(Ravenna, Orvieto, Pisa, Verona etc).
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2008
  12. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    I think there is some difference between AmE and BrE on this point. In British usage a city can be Rome, Milan or Naples. Bologna and Florence are doubtful cases, while Pisa and Siena are towns. In GB we talk of town councils in these cases, while I know the Americans say city council. Wait for the Americans to have their say.

    By the way, better "small towns" than "little towns".
     
  13. Kishu

    Kishu Senior Member

    Florence
    Italy - Italian
    Thank you everybody.

    Yes, Danalto, I live in Florence and can assure you that it is a small town in comparison to other Italian cities like Milano and Rome (not to mention other European cities like London, Paris or Berlin). Its monuments and history are great, but not its area.
     
  14. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    Janey has a good point in saying that it's not just the size but also the significance of the town/city. From this point of view I agree with Janey's choice of "city" for Florence.
     
  15. Kishu

    Kishu Senior Member

    Florence
    Italy - Italian
    If I understand well, from your point of view, "city" can be used both for big and significant centers and "town" for smaller centers. Are Siena and Pisa, which are very significant from the artistical and historical point of view, towns, anyway, because they are smaller than Florence and not the capital cities of Tuscany?

    Thank you for specifying, I think this thread will be interesting for many italian native speakers
     
  16. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    I'd say it's a combination of a series of factors including size. Pisa is artistically and historically significant but this is not sufficient to compensate the small size.
     
  17. anglomania1

    anglomania1 Senior Member

    Piacenza, Italy
    UK English
    Hello,
    I was once told that the difference between a town or a city is the fact that a city must have a university or a cathedral!!
    I must say, I've never been totally convinced but I'd be interested to know if any other Brits have ever heard of this.
    My Collins defines a city (in Britain): a large town that has received this title from the Crown: usually the seat of a bishop.
    Any thoughts, fellow natives?
    Anglo
     
  18. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    To anglomania: yes, I learnt something similar at school but I think it's very old-fashioned and in my opinion nobody thinks this way nowadays. In any case you couldn't apply these criteria to another country.
     
  19. GavinW Senior Member

    Italy
    British English
    It may help to know that technically, in the UK at least, the difference between a town and a city depends on the presence or absence of a cathedral. It remains to be seen whether this criterion is applicable to another country (ie Italy). But I believe it is. At least, it seems as good as any other criterion. And at least it's objective, rather than subjective. And we are using the English language, after all...;)

    But if we're comfortable with the idea of grey areas, nobody's going to call you wrong if you say town rather than city, or vice versa, in many borderline cases. That said, Florence must be a city :))). I mean, after all, it was the capital city of Italy for a (short) time... That's got to count for something. And, on an Italian scale, it's a bit big for a mere "town" (think Siena... although that's another city, in my book).

    Hmmm, on the subject of Siena, it was a city the medieval period, surely. So does it get downgraded to town, through time? And what about Troy? That was small by our standards today. But in its day, hell -- it was pretty major. And we don't seem to have forgotten the fact.

    EDIT: some crossing, but no apologies ;-) (actually, little duplication, I feel...)
    EDIT2: correcting Italian to English at end of first graf. Duuuh...!
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2008
  20. anglomania1

    anglomania1 Senior Member

    Piacenza, Italy
    UK English
    I agree with this - at the end of the day if it's quite big call it a town, if very big, a city!! As you say, nobody will actually say it's wrong! If cathedrals are important then nearly all Italian towns are going to be cities!!:D
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2008
  21. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    Well, yes, I think this is the point!

    And if we have to use official criteria, when does a large village become a small town? Etc. etc. ...
     
  22. Janey UK

    Janey UK Senior Member

    Norfolk, England
    Native speaker of British English
    Actually this isn't correct, since there are ten 'Cathedral Towns' (such as Blackburn, Bury St Edmunds, Chelmsford, Guildford, Rochester etc) which have established Anglican cathedrals within their borders but have not yet achieved 'city' status. Also, there are 16 English and Welsh towns that have been awarded city status but which do not have Anglican cathedrals within their borders (eg Bath, Cambridge, Lancaster, Leeds, Nottingham, Plymouth, Preston etc).

    So, it's a grey area even in England, and the presence or absence of an Anglican cathedral isn't the defining characteristic (although many people believe that it is). My rule of thumb is to think of a town as a 'city' if it's either a) very large and populous or b) a largish town that's nevertheless very culturally significant.

    When push comes to shove, only the people that live in the borderline places that could be either a town or a city are likely to care very much about the designation....I guess in these instances town/city pride is at stake! :D
     
  23. anglomania1

    anglomania1 Senior Member

    Piacenza, Italy
    UK English
    But most of them have universities, though!!!;)
    Anglo
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2008
  24. Einstein

    Einstein Senior Member

    Milano, Italia
    UK, English
    We still have to hear the Americans on this!
     
  25. GavinW Senior Member

    Italy
    British English
    Thankyou for taking the time to explain this so well and so clearly. I think you've helped a lot of people.
     
  26. Janey UK

    Janey UK Senior Member

    Norfolk, England
    Native speaker of British English
    You're welcome! During my life I've lived in two 'grey areas'...the 'cathedral towns' of Bury St Edmunds and Arundel (the latter has a Roman Catholic cathedral and not an Anglican one) so I read up on the subject. As I recall, the inhabitants of both places were quite indignant to be considered 'merely' towns...both towns thought they ought to have 'city' status regardless of their modest size.

    Do the people of Firenze (per esempio) feel indignant when people say that it is just a town, and not a city? Or is this indignation a peculiarly British trait?
     
  27. GavinW Senior Member

    Italy
    British English
    By and large, the problem doesn't exist, since the distinction between "citta'" and "paese" is different. For instance, "citta'" can be used for something much smaller than anything a Brit (at least) would be inclined to describe as a "city". And then there's "paesino" (small town). Maybe the difference between citta' and paese is based more exclusively on sheer size and how frenetic life there is (and maybe how much traffic there is...).
     
  28. Kishu

    Kishu Senior Member

    Florence
    Italy - Italian
    In Italy the difference between city and town officially doesn't exist. It is just an administrative matter if a city/town is a "città" or a "comune" or a "paese": officially a "città" is a territory -small or large, culturally significant or not it doesn't matter- which administrates an area around it. It can be called also "capoluogo di provincia" .Then the cities/towns are "divided" into smaller units, named "comune", which administrate smaller areas around them. A "paese" depends from the administrative point of view on its "comune". Normally a place becomes a "città" when it reaches economical (and not cultural) significance in the region where it lies or becomes too rich or populous. About ten years ago, for example, 5 new provinces where declared in Italy, among which Prato (infact the town had become too rich and populous for being administrated by Florence). This is the official definition of the word "città".
    Concerning the popular use of this word, things change. People often name città places which are not, depending on the importance they give to a place. For example Empoli is a large "comune" in the "provincia" of Florence, so it is not truly a "città", but its inhabitants call it "la città di Empoli". Another example: Montelupo is a village about 30 km far from Florence but it is important for tourism and handicraft because there they produce the best hand made and hand painted terracotta in the whole region. The signpost at the entrance of Montelupo reports "Montelupo, città della ceramica".
    I hope I have been clear. Greetings


    When I talk to a Frenchman I say: "my English is better than my French". When I talk to an Englishman I say: "my French is better than my English". Please, stop me!!! Correct my mistakes, please!!! :eek:
     
  29. ToscanoNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Italian & English -US (bilingual)
    I don't think it has been said yet, but Italians have another word, "cittadina", which I personally use often to describe a town like Empoli (just to give you an example), which is smaller than a città but larger than a paese and is not "capoluogo di provincia".
     
  30. Kishu

    Kishu Senior Member

    Florence
    Italy - Italian
    You are right ToscanoNYC, "cittadina" is what you say and the right term to describe a town like Empoli. Anyway the empolesi (people living in Empoli) call their town "città". As told before it's a matter of importance given to the place they live in.
     
  31. Montesacro Senior Member

    Roma
    Italiano

    :eek::eek:
    What a huge mess!
    First of all there's no such thing as "the official definition" of città.
    And then:
    Comune is the smallest administrative unit in Italy; there are comuni with only few dozens of inhabitants and comuni with millions of inhabitants.
    Rome (a città) is a comune, Empoli (a cittadina) is a comune, Orbetello (a paese) is a comune too.

    Then the province are divided...:thumbsup:



    :confused:
     
  32. Gavina74 New Member

    Italiano
    :arrow: --> Nuova domanda <--

    Quanto deve essere grande una città per poter essere chiamata "city" in inglese? Cioè, se non sbaglio gli inglesi chiamano "city" solo le metropoli...o sto dando i numeri? Le città più piccole sono "town"...o no? Per esempio una città di 130 mila abitanti si definisce "town" o "city"? Grazie!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2008
  33. london calling Senior Member

    SALERNO, ITALY
    UK ENGLISH
    Non ricordo se qui o sul forum English Only c'è un thread lunghissimo che tratta questo argomento...ti avverto che non è poi così semplice come discorso!:)
     
  34. Murphy

    Murphy Senior Member

    Sicily, Italy
    English, UK
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2008
  35. TrentinaNE

    TrentinaNE Senior Member

    USA
    English (American)
    And it's surprisingly easy to find using the WR dictionary. ;)

    Elisabetta
     
  36. FrankBond New Member

    Italian
    Reading several things about this topic I feel I can summarize in the following way.

    Can be called City if it is a place polarizing the attention of the surrounding population for some reasons, like:
    * Important churches
    * Universities
    * Economincal and Political centers (like The City of London)
    * Important public monuments or museums.
    * Usually (but not necessarily) its size confirms its importance

    in all other cases it is a Town.

    I dare to produce some italian equivalents:

    * Metropolis --> "Metropoli" (as big town with multiple Municipalities and maybe > 2 milion of hinabitances)
    -------------------------
    * City -> "Grande città" (as big important town)
    * City -> "Città" (as Municipality, center of economical and cultural activities)
    * City -> "Cittadella" (small district, usually ancient, specialized in some activities, like "The City of London")
    -------------------------
    * Town -> "Città" (generic: when you do not need to remark its size, and it is at least 20.000 hinabitances)
    * Town -> "Cittadina" (small center maybe between 10.000 to 40.000 hinabitances)
    -------------------------
    * Village -> "Paese" (small center of generic size. NOTE: "paese" could also mean a whole nation, like the word "country")
    * Village -> "Paesetto" (small village)
    * Village -> "Frazione" (small village, remarking it is just a part of a Municipality)
    * Village -> "Borgo" (very small village, tipically of medieval age)
    -------------------------
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

Loading...