trip/journey/ excursion

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daniar

Senior Member
Bulgarian
Hello native English speakers.
I have a question about the use of the words trip, journey and excursion. I was doing some exercises in Destination B2 by Macmillan and I'd like you to see this question:
I always enjoy our school ...... to France.
A excursion C trip
B journey D travel
Well, my answer was C and it matches the one in the key but why can't we say 'a school excursion' - I've seen this expression on the Net? I also read in the Yahoo Answers that trip is neutral, it can be used both for short and long distances, but journey can be used when talking about really long distances, about epic, long trips;journey can be used for regular trip, e.g. the ones to work(is it correct?). Then why don't we use journey when it's clear from the sentence above it's a trip happening regularly? I was quite surprised to see that some people explain 'trip' and 'excursion' defining it as 'a short journey'. But journey already implies ' a long trip' and wasn't 'trip' universal - we can say 'round - the - world trip and round - the - world journey). What about the phrase 'long journey'- isn' t a journey already a long trip?I'm sorry for asking so much but these things make me really worried and I want an answer.
Thanks in advance.
 
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  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    In the UK we use school trip as more of a set phrase for any travel arranged by the school, from a day trip to the river to an extended international excursion. You could use the word excursion to describe a big jaunt, but we simply do not collocate school and excursion. ( I hesitate to say we do not, because someone else might come in and say they do, but I think it is rare, put it that way!)
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I assume you're happy to rule out (D) travel, which really doesn't fit the context at all.
    Option (B) journey only includes the actual process of travelling there and travelling back again, but not the sightseeing or whatever you did while you were in France.
    Of the remaining two, (A) excursion would work but it does have the connotation of a leisure activity and also often, but by no means always, is of short duration (a "seaside day excursion", for example).

    I suspect the real answer is that "school trip" (C) is a firmly established phrase (in BE at least) and is just one of those things which we native speakers instinctively pick without consciously having to think about it. Possibly recalling the "school trip to Paris" I went on when I was at school, I mentally filled in the blank correctly in your sentence before I'd seen the four options or read what your question was. :)
     
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    daniar

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I see. And what about 'trip' itself - is it a short journey or is is neutral? Can we say ' a short journey ' or ' a long journey' when journey means you're travelling a really long distance?
     

    daniar

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    DonnyB, you' re saying that journey implies 'the actual process of travelling there and travelling back again, but not the sightseeing or whatever you did while you were in France.' Is this thought only connected to the particular context or are you speaking in general?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    A "trip" can be of any length or duration - from a "day trip" to a "trip to America" or even, as in your example, a "round-the-world trip".
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    DonnyB, you' re saying that journey implies 'the actual process of travelling there and travelling back again, but not the sightseeing or whatever you did while you were in France.' Is this thought only connected to the particular context or are you talking in general?
    A "journey" is defined as the act of travelling from one place to another (Oxford English Dictionary).
     

    daniar

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    And again the question- why do 'excursion' is defined as 'a short journey' when journey already implies 'a long trip'? Why isn't it defined as a 'short trip' ?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    And again the question- why do 'excursion' is defined as 'a short journey' when journey already implies 'a long trip'? Why isn't it defined as a 'short trip' ?
    They're different words. :confused:
    An excursion isn't necessarily always short - you can have a 14-day "excursion".
    A "journey" across the North Pole could be of several months duration: a "journey" to school could be a ten-minute walk.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    But all the sites I read say 'journey ' is a long, epic trip.
    Well, I daresay all the British commuters whose journey to work is delayed by cancelled trains every time it snows in this country would wholeheartedly agree with that description! :D

    But as I implied in post #13, a "journey" can be of any length, frequency or duration.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    So people there probably meant that most of the time the 'journey' is a long trip. By the way, can I define journey using the word trip?
    As you said in your original post, people do use the two words interchangeably and possibly confusingly. Personally I'd stick to the definition of "journey" that I gave in post #7.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Daniar,

    Note the WR dictionary has:-

    "excursion /ɪkˈskɜːʃən
    -ʒən/ n
    • a short outward and return journey, esp for relaxation, sightseeing, etc; outing
    • a group of people going on such a journey"

    GF..

    1. If I go on a excursion I EXPECT TO COME BACK HOME..... within a few hours or a few days.
    2. If I go on a journey I expect to be away from home for sometime. I have been on a journey around the world, that's not an excursion.... I have also undertaken a few "journeys" that I have not returned from:- I have "emigrated" a few times.
    3. Trips are often only for a few hours: journeys tend to be longer. Why not look up trip at http://www.wordreference.com/definition/trip "any tour, journey, or voyage?"

    Outward and return journeys are often only for a very specific purpose.​
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Lets face it, there are no hard and fast rules or even broad agreement about this. You can use a variety of these words in the same contexts, except you should use trip with anything to do with school!
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    But all the sites I read say 'journey ' is a long, epic trip.
    Where are these sites based? In BrE, "journey" does not have that connotation. At the end of every game, the scoreboard at the football ground I go to says "Have a safe journey home" even though most of the spectators live only a few kilometres from the ground.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Just google 'trip or journey'.
    Is this meant for me, daniar? If so, my reply is that I don't need to google 'trip or journey' because I know the difference in BrE usage (I've been using both words for over fifty years), and I know from experience of this forum that for many speakers of AmE the semantic difference between these two words is a little different from the semantic difference that applies for most BrE speakers. Perhaps you have been looking at the AmE definitions of these two words.
    But as I implied in post #13, a "journey" can be of any length, frequency or duration.
    DonnyB wrote this at post 15 of this thread. Like him, I speak BrE, so this definition applies to my usage as it applies to his.
     
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    loghrat

    Senior Member
    British English / Danish
    Lets face it, there are no hard and fast rules or even broad agreement about this. You can use a variety of these words in the same contexts, except you should use trip with anything to do with school!
    NOT in Australia! Here school students go on excursions if the trip is short (half/full day, maybe even up to a week), and on trips for longer periods and further afield, they also go on international study tours​, for example to Europe for three weeks.

    Sorry to further muddy the waters (=make things vague and confusing):eek:
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    NOT in Australia! Here school students go on excursions if the trip is short (half/full day, maybe even up to a week), and on trips for longer periods and further afield, they also go on international study tours​, for example to Europe for three weeks.
    But do you call them "school excursions"? "International study tours" is not "school tours."
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Just google 'trip or journey'.
    That's a response I consider as rude in all versions of English. It is your job to cite your own sources for your own question, especially if you are claiming a point of usage which is at odds with what native speakers are telling you.

    I will cart myself off out of this thread now.
     

    estoy_lerniendo

    Senior Member
    English - U.S. (Midwest)
    Of all these words, journey is the one that carries the most figurative value. Journey often, but not always, carries the notion of one's heartfelt desire to accomplish/discover/explore/etc.
     

    daniar

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I'm quoting Destination B2 by Macmillan, 'journey-an occasion when you travel from one place to another, especially over a long distance'. If the journey 'can be of any length', why do they say most of the time it's over a long distance? I'm sorry - I didn't mean to be rude.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I'm quoting Destination B2 by Macmillan, 'journey-an occasion when you travel from one place to another, especially over a long distance'. If the journey 'can be of any length', why do they say most of the time it's over a long distance? I'm sorry - I didn't mean to be rude.
    I'm afraid I have no idea why your textbook says that: it's simply not correct to say "most of the time".:confused:
    The dictionary definition in post #7 makes no mention of it and several of us have said that we, as native speakers, have experience (and have given you examples) of the word "journey" not being used to imply long distances at all.
     

    daniar

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I see. Then what about the phrase 'round-the-world journey'? Is it the same as 'round - the-word trip'? I found the same definition as the one provided in my textbook in the Macmillan Dictionary. They also say 'journey ' usually refers to long distances. Ok, but then why do we have phrases such as 'long journey' , 'short journey ', etc. - because obviously there are a lot of examples where 'journey' can be of any length. I think Macmillan, in the effort to be exhaustive enough, gave a not very good definition, or at least this is my opinion. Do you agree?
     
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    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    I'm wondering if the definition of 'journey' provided by the textbook doesn't have its origin in the word's etymological meaning. 'journey' comes from the French word 'journée' (meaning roughly 'day'). The word 'journey' has been used to mean, among other things, 'a day of (e.g. travel)'. I imagine that travelling over one day, one can cover a long distance, which in itself can be rather subjective or change over times. For instance, to people in the Middle Ages a distance of 30 miles could be long, and it might have taken them a day's travelling. Today, it wouldn't be so to many people given the modern means of transport.

    Going back to the subject, 'school trip' indeed is a collocation as someone has already suggested:
    The following is what the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary says about 'trip' and 'journey':
    A trip usually involves you going to a place and back again; a journey is usually one-way. A trip is often shorter than a journey, although it does not have to be: a trip to New York ◇ a round-the-world trip. It is often short in time, even if it is long in distance. Journey is more often used when the travelling takes a long time and is difficult. In North American English journey is not used for short trips: (British English) What is your journey to work like?
     

    e42mercury

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Daniar—you seem interested in a better definition of journey. I personally don't think it is a significant difference in meaning between BrE, AmE, and AuE (except in usage preferences). When I teach English, I explain the difference like this:

    Trip: A general word for any type of travel (be careful not to make the common mistake "a travel"—this is incorrect). This can be a school trip, a business trip, or a vacation.
    Journey: This is a type of trip that has problems, adventures, or unexpected changes. It can be short or long. If you have a terrible commute to work everyday, or the trains were unexpectedly shut down, you might call it a journey, especially if you are complaining about it or want to emphasize that it was tiring or longer than expected. Of course, it's more common that a longer trip will have more problems or unexpected changes (e.g., 7 years in Tibet). Journey is also used in contexts where the trip had spiritual value or changed your life, e.g., a journey (not a trip) to the stars, etc. Something more than a simple vacation.
    A round-the-world journey sounds like something you do once in your life or changed you somehow. And of course, most trips around the would involve unexpected changes!

    I would agree that it is more common for a journey to be one-way, but this doesn't seem to be the important difference between the words, and isn't an absolute difference.

    I would not use journey in a tourism context—if you take a vacation to the Bahamas for a week and there are no serious problems, adventures, or unexpected changes (usually what a tourist hope for), this is not a journey. Same goes for a school context. I can confirm that for AmE, we prefer "school trip" (and definitely not journey or excursion). A common collocation is "a school field trip"—for example, the teachers take the children to the museum for the day.

    Excursion
    seems to be preferred in BrE and AuE, from what I see in this thread, but I'm no expert.
    In AmE, we would say outing or day trip for a short trip with no overnight stay or vacation package for a trip that has everything organized and reserved by the agency (hotels, meals, tours, etc.).

    I hope this helps a little.
    Erik
     
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    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Not so for BrE, in which a journey can be routine and uneventful.

    A "journey" across the North Pole could be of several months duration: a "journey" to school could be a ten-minute walk.

    So in BE a teacher can ask a student: "How was your journey to school today?" and that would sound as natural as 'How was your way to school today?' right?
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    So in BE a teacher can ask a student: "How was your journey to school today?" and the would sound as natural as 'How was your way to school today?' right?
    It's actually 'How was your way to school today?' which would sound odd: using "journey" there is fine (in BE).
     

    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Put another way, for me as a speaker of AmE, to say “long journey” would be redundant but it might be used for emphasis. I wouldn’t refer to a “short journey”—only a “short trip”.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    So these are correct, right?

    "How was your journey/trip to school today?" - BrE
    "How was your trip to school today?" AmE
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    So these are correct, right?

    "How was your journey/trip to school today?" - BrE
    In BE, a pupil's "journey to school" would mean the ordinary one they took every morning to get there for the day's lessons.

    A "trip to school" somehow suggests to me that you went there for something like an open day or event of some description. It may not have that connotation for other people, though. :)
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    It was only now that I realized that BE and AM speakers will differently sense the name of a car called Dodge Journey. That's weird because this is an American car maker and the name suggests something tiring as Kentix said here:
    As I've said in other threads, in AE I think we (or at least a lot of us) tend to see a journey as something arduous and out of the ordinary.
    So the car should have better sales in the UK :)
    Dodge Journey - Wikipedia
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    But a journey takes you to new and exciting places and gives you experiences you've never had before. That's something worth having.

    The Dodge Trip would be a completely silly name for a car in American English.:D
     
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