Sunday, March 12, 2006

Rivers, creeks, and runs

I'm blogging from Pennsylvania right now. I'm visiting my brother in Pottstown. On the drive down I was reminded about one of the lexical differences between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania we have creeks. They're bigger than streams, but smaller than rivers. The only rivers I knew growing up were the Delaware and the Schuylkill. In New Jersey, they have "rivers" like the Saddle river, the Black river, and the Ramapo river that are no bigger than the creeks in Pennsylvania. And They have rivers like the Passaic, the Raritan, and the Hudson which are obviously bigger. They don't have no creeks. For really small bodies of moving water, they call them runs. Pennsylvanians might call them streams. I'm not sure what the lower size limit for creeks is.

Anyway, I guess that in the culture of Pennsylvanians movng water is of great enough importance to split up the conceptual sphere that corresponds to one word and one thought in New Jersey into several distinct classes. We see moving bodies of water differently than those poor lexically impoverished New Jerseyans with only rivers and runs.

6 comments:

Philadaddy said...

We called them brooks. Never heard of runs. Creeks is for hillbillies.

Maryann said...

We had a creek in Pt. Pleas. It was behind Sandra Ionno's house and we weren't allowed to play near it, so of course we were there all the time. When we were about 6, Ricky Napolitano fell in! Crisis! However, the creek didn't have a name that I know of, so maybe we Jerseyans don't see it as important enough...

boredoom said...

We got "the runs" in Brooklyn, now and then.

Gavin M. said...

We see moving bodies of water differently than those poor lexically impoverished New Jerseyans with only rivers and runs.

Instead of 'creeks' we have 'branches' of rivers, such that the Rahway has a West Branch, a South Branch, a Robinson's Branch, and so forth. Generally, when they all get together, a Pennsylvania-style river results.

They're like banks. It's all the same bank, but different branches.

liberal elite said...

Ah yes, I've fished both the north and south branches of the Raritan. Good times. But seriously, can you tell me that the Millstone is a "river"? It's a creek damnit!

Gavin M. said...

Believe it or not, it's the same body of water as the Raritan, only split between a natural channel and a canal, and blocked from the Raritan's tidal flow.

I think it was wider at one time. But as it is now, yeah, it's definitely an embarrassing 'river' compared to the...um, Pennsylvania River (that big one you guys have).

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