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Author Topic: Back east?
dewey
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Why does the expression "back east" continue to be used? I can understand the origin from pioneer days when most people originally came from "back east" but it doesn't seem to apply anymore. I hear and read it being used by people who have no family on the east coast and did not grow up there.

dewey

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Elwood
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Up North. . .Down South. . .Out West. . .Back East. .

I don't pretent to know why.

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"If I didn't see it and didn't know it was a real news report, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, how nutty can you get?"-Pat Robertson Oct 26, 2006.

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Pogue Ma-humbug
Happy Christmas (Malls are Open)


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In Maine, it's Down East.

Pogue

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Remarkgullabull
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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I've always wondered about those expressions as well. For example, I have friends that live in Arkansas, and they always say, for example, "The next time we come up". Another example was a relative of mine that lived in a southern state would say, "The next time ya'll come down".

Remark "Don't know if I'm comin' or goin'" gullabull

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dewey
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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quote:
Originally posted by Pogue Mahone:
In Maine, it's Down East.

Pogue

Pogue,

I am sure you know this already but there might be others who don't. To sail to Maine from Boston you must sail downwind (with the wind at your back) and east, hence Down East.

dewey

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Errata
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I've mostly heard the expression used by people who are in fact from the East coast but living in the West coast.
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Rhiandmoi
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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What Elwood said. But also what Errata said.

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Resurrection Joe
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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quote:
Originally posted by Remarkgullabull:
I've always wondered about those expressions as well. For example, I have friends that live in Arkansas, and they always say, for example, "The next time we come up". Another example was a relative of mine that lived in a southern state would say, "The next time ya'll come down".

Remark "Don't know if I'm comin' or goin'" gullabull

I don't see what's so weird about that. Arkansas is in the south, Minnesota is not. Hence, going to Arkansas would be going "down" (not straight down, but down) (well not even literally down, but down on a map)

you know what i mean.

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Esprise Me
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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"Back East," "out West," "up North," and "down South" I get, but how does one determine whether something is "up" the street or "down" the street? And I understand going "into" a city, but why do we go "out into" the country?

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"If God wrote it, the grammar must be infallible. Perhaps it is we who are mistaken." -MapleLeaf

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jessboo
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Esprise Me:
"Back East," "out West," "up North," and "down South" I get, but how does one determine whether something is "up" the street or "down" the street? And I understand going "into" a city, but why do we go "out into" the country?

I go by where the place you're going to is, in relation to you. so when i ring our other office, which is down a hill, i say "it's jessica from up the road" cos, well, we're up from them. country wise, i would go up to london and down to cornwall (i'm in the middle). not sure why that is...it just feels right.

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RealityChuck/Boston Charlie
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by dewey:
Why does the expression "back east" continue to be used? I can understand the origin from pioneer days when most people originally came from "back east" but it doesn't seem to apply anymore. I hear and read it being used by people who have no family on the east coast and did not grow up there.

The basis assumption here is just plain wrong. Language doesn't change simply because the original meaning is no longer relevent. No one goes around striking out idiomatic phrases because they don't make logical sense and have them automaticlly disappear.

Whether it applies any more is completely irrelevant. You can use a compass to orient yourself, even though a compass points north and "orient" means "east." You can say "try a different tack" even if you've never sailed. You can call something "a flash in the pan" even though no flintlock is present. You can get on the plane even though you're getting in the plane.

So what if it doesn't apply personally to the speaker. That's a completely unimportant bit of trivia.

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Dr. Dave
Frosty the Pitchman


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quote:
Originally posted by Esprise Me:
And I understand going "into" a city, but why do we go "out into" the country?

Around here, we do say "out in the country" or even "out in the suburbs." In fact , the way out suburbs are called the "ex-burbs."
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Elwood
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Around here there is little to no flat land, so "up" and "down" the road usually just refers to increase or decrease in elevation relative to where one first starts, regardless of how the road continues after that.

However, another common usage is for "down" to refer to the way in which go first and "up" is for the return journey--think "we've been down this road before." This was always the usage for my grandmother's house. "Down the road" was to continue past her house from our usual route or to go on a walk in that direction, even though it was uphill to go that way.

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"If I didn't see it and didn't know it was a real news report, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, how nutty can you get?"-Pat Robertson Oct 26, 2006.

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Elwood
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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We definitely go into town and out to the country. Since we have a Northward-flowing river dividing the town pretty much right down the middle, we go "over" to East Side or West Side, but never uptown or downtown.

Curiously, we always go out to Wal-mart even though its to our South. It is, however, away from town so perhaps that is in line with "out to the country."

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"If I didn't see it and didn't know it was a real news report, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, how nutty can you get?"-Pat Robertson Oct 26, 2006.

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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How is this difficult??

Once upon a time, EVERYONE lived in the East. Then, as people began "going out West" to settle, they started talking about going "back East" for visits or vacation and the like.

Where is the central hub of life and the economy? The city. You go INTO a store, you go INTO the water... and you go INTO a city.

Once you are in - there is no place else to go but OUT... out to the country, out to the burbs.

Uptown and downtown are simple as well. Cities ALWAYS began by a waterbody... which has banks that are geographically LOWER than the surrounding city. Also, in the HUGE metropolis of NYC the higher elevations were to the north... hence, UPtown and DOWNtown.

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eif
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by RealityChuck, the punisher:
Whether it applies any more is completely irrelevant. You can use a compass to orient yourself, even though a compass points north and "orient" means "east."

That is interesting. I seem to recall that prior to the compass, maps were made with East to the top. For an army or other travellers, they would "orient" the map with the rising sun to the east. That really seems to fit.

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Where I come from we believe all sorts of things that aren't true. We call it History.

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mommyrex
Deck the Malls


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I say "back east" to refer to the east coast (where I lived for 30 years). Strangely, I also say "back east" to refer to the eastern part of my state. I'm not sure if that came from imitating native Kansans, or from peronal points of reference. Others may use it based on the history of the place, because settlers traveled from east to west (and from populated, urban areas to sparsely populated open land). But I might just say it because until I lived here, my route always took me through eastern Kansas, "out" to the west, then "back east" through Kansas City to the east coast.

I definitely live "out in the country", and go "into town" a couple of times a week.

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Franny
Jingle Bell Hock


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I am from 'back east' and I still can't get over the fact that the ocean is on the wrong side. Screws me up even after four years of living 'out west'.

I know the sun still rises in the east - but my biological compass appears to orient (hah) to large bodies of water. And those, in my mind, are supposed to be EAST of me.

I'm an aquarius, what else can I say?

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Esprise Me
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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That's funny, my dad's from the East Coast, but he moved out to California thirty years ago and now can't get past this "ocean is to the West" mindset. It's made for a few wrong turns on family vacations back East. I grew up on the West Coast; now I live in Boston, and half the time I don't even know which way is up.

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"If God wrote it, the grammar must be infallible. Perhaps it is we who are mistaken." -MapleLeaf

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rogue
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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quote:
Originally posted by Esprise Me:
but how does one determine whether something is "up" the street or "down" the street?

I've always been of the opinion that "up" and "down" refered to "Generally North" and "Generally South", respectively, because that would be the direction of travel on a normally orientated map on the wall. East/West would be "over."

Anyone else follow this convention (especially if you’ve never thought about it!) in language?

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Alex Buchet
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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New Jersyites go "down to the shore". And Londoners go "down the pub".

In Oxford, you go "down to London" (or are shamefully "sent down") by the Down Train, often spoonerised as the Town Drain.

In France, you go "up to Paris": "Je monte à Paris."

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Alex Buchet:
New Jersyites go "down to the shore".

Isn't it "down the shore," no "to" involved?

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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DAnnino
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Esprise Me:
That's funny, my dad's from the East Coast, but he moved out to California thirty years ago and now can't get past this "ocean is to the West" mindset. It's made for a few wrong turns on family vacations back East. I grew up on the West Coast; now I live in Boston, and half the time I don't even know which way is up.

Yeah, I hate that about California. Having been raised in Boston, and now living in Arizona, the Pacific is the wrong.
What I really hate is when someone mentions something about Back East, and they mean Texas!

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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It really blew being on Long Island...

We had to go WEST to New York City!!

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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Alex Buchet
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Any Brooklynites still talk of going 'to New York', when they're going to Manhattan?

They'd still be unable entirely to get over the 1898 annexation (let alone the far greater and deeper trauma: the loss of the Dodgers to L.A. in 1958).

Oops...I meant "1898 merger".

Here in Paris, one can still hear Montmartrois saying "In Paris, they...", although Montmartre was annexed by Paris in 1860.

The Commune and its memories have something to do with that, of course-- but Montmartre still retains some special identity, an odd magic. It is IN Paris, but not entirely OF Paris.

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