cradle = birthplace?

< Previous | Next >

llucie

New Member
Hello dear friends,

I wonder if it is possible to say "Detroit is known as a cradle of car industry" Isn't it better to say "birthplace" of car industry? Doesn't the expression "cradle" sound too old-fashioned?
Thank you for all the help.
 
  • angeluomo

    Senior Member
    US English (German/French)
    There's nothing really wrong with the formulation you have provided, though I have never heard this usage before with the "car industry". Instead, I have heard formulations like: "Greece is the cradle of Western civilization." Take it one step further, and I guess it can also apply to the car industry or anything else. Your counter proposal (birthplace) is also OK. Interestingly, the "cradle" image works also in German (Wiege) and French (berceau).
     

    llucie

    New Member
    angeluomo said:
    There's nothing really wrong with the formulation you have provided, though I have never heard this usage before with the "car industry". Instead, I have heard formulations like: "Greece is the cradle of Western civilization." Take it one step further, and I guess it can also apply to the car industry or anything else. Your counter proposal (birthplace) is also OK. Interestingly, the "cradle" image works also in German (Wiege) and French (berceau).
    It also works in Czech and definitely some other Slavic languages...
     

    essan

    New Member
    Canada- English
    Yes that would be dramatically correct, cradle could mean “the earliest period of life” or in a similar term "birth".
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Everything has a place of origin, but I'm not sure everything can properly be said to have a "cradle" in the sense that Democracy does, the cradle being Greece. Who invented or first manufactured can openers? Is his birthplace or the site of his first factory-- the "Cradle of Can-Opening?"

    What my example implies is that Cradle of is an honorific term, and it confers distinction on a place in proportion to the inherent dignity of the thing that was born and developed, nurtured and "cradled" there. Every one-horse town in the country has a Chamber of Commerce with an appointed officer in charge of boosterism. If every one of them got to officially designate their town the Cradle of something, the term would be trivialized to the point where it was no longer a distinctive, much less honorific.

    "Cradle of the Automotive Industry" is a wee step in that direction, at least to my ear. If it strikes your ear as a little funny, maybe you agree with my explanation as to why that might be.
    .
     

    el alabamiano

    Senior Member
    English (US)
    I wonder if it is possible to say "Detroit is known as a cradle of car industry" Isn't it better to say "birthplace" of car industry? - llucie
    This isn't intended as an insult, but that's like saying New Orleans is the birthplace of Mardi Gras.

    In fact, the auto industry was born in Europe and the word "automobile" was contributed by the French. Citroen, Peugeot and Renault are among the old and honored automotive makes in the world, but have not been in the U.S. since Renault sold its interest in American Motors to Chrysler Corp. - source
     

    Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

    Member
    Czech | Czech Republic
    Also - I'm not a native speaker, but it is my understanding that if you choose to talk about cradles, then you ought to write "THE cradle", rather than just "a cradle", as these metaphorical cradles are usually one-of-a-kind. Am I right or am I wrong? And if I am, would "the" still be used even if there were in fact multiple cradles?
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Yes, you should say "the cradle". However, I agree with FFB that this is really too grandiose a metaphor to use about the car industry.
     

    Amityville

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'd guess they are trying to suggest that everyone in Detroit was linked to the car industry, employed directly or indirectly by it, got their identity from it, etc etc. But in total agreement with ffb and tim. I'd be happier saying it was the cradle of Tamla Motown.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top