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  1. #1
    Alvib is offline Newbie
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    Question Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    I encountered this problem long ago when I tried to tell friends of mine (one from New Zealand and two from the USA) that "now we are walking along...". I consulted Merriam-Webster that gives the following definition of esplanade: "a level, open area ; especially: an area for walking or driving along a shore". However I was surprised at awkward pause as long as I tried to use this word speaking with native speakers.

    What is the difference between these words? Which one is considered to be as a general one?

    As far as I understand "embankment" is used mostly regarding the riversides. But it seems to carry too much of "engineering" meaning. Canadians are more inclined to quays, as long as Singapore manages to treat equally "quays", "esplanades" and "embankments". Australians seem to use esplanades quite frequently. London is famous for Thames Embankment*.

    *This thread contains personal observations and experiences only (based mostly on unofficial sources).

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Esplandade is a fine word, but it's not very common in the US.

    To tell you the truth, I myself did not know it was associated with a shoreline. That is why you probably encountered a pause.

    Are you referring to what was built up to keep the water in place? Then it's leveled off so you can walk or bike along it? I'm trying to remember what it's called in New Orleans - I've walked along it myself.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    Alvib is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Are you referring to what was built up to keep the water in place? Then it's leveled off so you can walk or bike along it? I'm trying to remember what it's called in New Orleans - I've walked along it myself.
    I am sorry, indeed, I did not mentioned what I referred to. I tried to describe an area along the seaside or riverside (generally, highstanding) where people can walk around having sightseeing, photos and rest near the seaside/riverside (excluding all sorts of having a rest on the beach). Actually, I heard American who spoke about such area as about "embankment" (though it is generally referred to as an engeneering construction along the shore). In Russian - I prefer name such area as esplanade - the word "esplanade" is used quite frequently. Interestingly, I did not met any English speaker who would tell me without a doubt how to refer to such areas.
    Last edited by Alvib; 17-Jan-2014 at 14:21.

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    Alvib is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    it was associated with a shoreline.
    Do you mean that "shoreline" would be the best word to describe the object we are speaking about? And if we are talking about specific architectural constructions along the seaside or riverside (made for walking) - "esplanade" would be the best word?

  5. #5
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Esplandade is a fine word, but it's not very common in the US.

    To tell you the truth, I myself did not know it was associated with a shoreline. That is why you probably encountered a pause.

    Are you referring to what was built up to keep the water in place? Then it's leveled off so you can walk or bike along it? I'm trying to remember what it's called in New Orleans - I've walked along it myself.
    Is "levee" the word you were thinking of?

  6. #6
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvib View Post
    Do you mean that "shoreline" would be the best word to describe the object we are speaking about? And if we are talking about specific architectural constructions along the seaside or riverside (made for walking) - "esplanade" would be the best word?
    Both "embankment" and "levee" refer to raised areas built to prevent flooding. Some have a flat top and people walk on them. An "esplanade" refers to a recreational stretch of land usually near a body of water. New Yorkers would likely recognize the word, because we have several along the Hudson and East Rivers. However, it doesn't surprise me that most Americans are not familiar with the term. For your purpose, it might be better to use along the "shore", "water", "waterfront", or "shoreline".

    New York esplanade: https://www.google.com/search?q=espl...w=1109&bih=848

  7. #7
    Alvib is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    An "esplanade" refers to a recreational stretch of land usually near a body of water.
    Yeah, I am looking for this one! But the problem is that I haven't met yet any native speaker who would appreciate this word as a commonly used one. So, you propose "waterfront" and "shoreline" for the purpose of better communication, I see. Thank you!

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvib View Post
    So, you propose "waterfront" and "shoreline" for the purpose of better communication, I see. Thank you!
    These words suffer from the same problems as 'esplanade' and some of the others. The simple facts are that there is no single word used and understood by all native speakers of English, or even of one variety of English, for what you are talking about, and that several of the words mean different things to different people.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  9. #9
    Alvib is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    These words suffer from the same problems as 'esplanade' and some of the others. The simple facts are that there is no single word used and understood by all native speakers of English, or even of one variety of English, for what you are talking about, and that several of the words mean different things to different people.
    That's pretty strange and weird. In Russia we have one word for that phenomenon - "naberezhnaya" (like "a paved area on the shore" or "street along the shore"). And even if one lives miles away from lakes, rivers or sea, he/she still knows this word (he will certainly understand this word and will not suggest any other for naming that object).

    I see that if I am speaking about such area situated in English-speaking countries, I have to find out its local, "conventional" title. Nevertheless, what shall I do then if I want to speak about what I am talking about in other cases?

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Embankment, esplanade, quay or...

    Quote Originally Posted by Alvib View Post
    That's pretty strange and weird.
    It's not weird at all. There are many varieties and major dialects of English. There is no universal English grammar, and no universal English lexicon
    In Russia we have one word for that phenomenon - "naberezhnaya" (like "a paved area on the shore" or "street along the shore"). And even if one lives miles away from lakes, rivers or sea, he/she still knows this word (he will certainly understand this word and will not suggest any other for naming that object).
    I know little about Russian, but it would be almost unique among languages spoken by millions of people if it did not have different words for certain things in its dialects. I would be surprised if every Russian living miles from water knew exactly what a "naberezhnaya" was.
    I see that if I am speaking about such area situated in English-speaking countries, I have to find out its local, "conventional" title. Nevertheless, what shall I do then if I want to speak about what I am talking about in other cases?
    There is nothing you can do. When we native speakers speak and write, we use the words that we know. If a speakers of other varieties/dialects of English don't know a word we use, they will try to find out the meaning in some way.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


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