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  #1  
Old 07-18-2006, 07:30 AM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Up To or Down To The Capital

I used to live in the north west of England.

When I visited the capital I would say that I was going 'down' to London. I would be corrected by those who insisted that one went 'up' to London from whatever direction one was travelling. I now live west of London and I just say 'I'm going to London'.

Is there a standard for this? What do the inhabitants of other countries say? Is this question so unimportant that it's not worth bothering with?
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  #2  
Old 07-18-2006, 07:37 AM
Alive At Both Ends Alive At Both Ends is offline
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People living "up North" refer to "down South" and vice versa. So I'd say "down" to London if I was in the North.
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  #3  
Old 07-18-2006, 07:49 AM
FRDE FRDE is offline
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I live slightly North of London

From experience, I would be unsurprized if someone said 'I'm going up to London'
- equally unsurprized if someone said 'I'm going down to London'

I would infer a different degree of enthusiasm between the two.

Nice question, does that happen elsewhere ?
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  #4  
Old 07-18-2006, 08:00 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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I live south of London and would always say "up to..." - specifically on the understanding that it's the direction it appears on a standard north-oriented map. Having travelled about the UK a bit in a previous job (and having had to discuss those travel arrangements in planning), I would say "down to..." if I was travelling to London from somewhere to the north of it.

If I was travelling to London from, say, Bristol, I would say "over to..." or "across to..."
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  #5  
Old 07-18-2006, 08:02 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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I should probably add that if I lived somewhere mountainous, and was travelling from the plains to a mountaintop, I would almost certainly say "up to' regardless of compass direction.
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  #6  
Old 07-18-2006, 08:05 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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I live west and a bit south of London and it's always "up" to London. I don't think its being the capital is relevant. North is "up" to most people, I think.
Similarly I go "down" to the south coast but also "down" to Devon and Somerset, even though they are actually almost due west.
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  #7  
Old 07-18-2006, 08:07 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
I should probably add that if I lived somewhere mountainous, and was travelling from the plains to a mountaintop, I would almost certainly say "up to' regardless of compass direction.
I don't think that necessarily holds. When I go skiing I'll talk of "driving down to the Alps", even if I end up in Val d'Isère, which is more than a vertical mile above my house.
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  #8  
Old 07-18-2006, 08:14 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon
I don't think that necessarily holds. When I go skiing I'll talk of "driving down to the Alps", even if I end up in Val d'Isère, which is more than a vertical mile above my house.
That's true. Elevation would probably only modify the map directions of 'up' and 'down' when the journey is more local (and perhaps does not require a map).
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  #9  
Old 07-18-2006, 08:19 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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I tried to find it by searching past threads I'd posted, with no luck, but I had a similar question a while back about how the various relative directions are referred to in your environs. As best I can recall, there was little consensus and the results didn't prove much of anything.

In my own region, I'm surprised when exceptions to these general rules are used:

UP = North or to a higher elevation
DOWN = South or to a lower elevation
OUT = West or away from a more heavily populated area
BACK = East or to wherever one started from
OVER = some relatively short distance nearby (less than 50 miles or so)

In the thread I couldn't locate, there were many variations on these terms, to the extent that if one were to travel very far it would likely involve changes in their meanings.
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  #10  
Old 07-18-2006, 08:26 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldar
I tried to find it by searching past threads I'd posted, with no luck, but I had a similar question a while back about how the various relative directions are referred to in your environs. As best I can recall, there was little consensus and the results didn't prove much of anything.

In my own region, I'm surprised when exceptions to these general rules are used:

UP = North or to a higher elevation
DOWN = South or to a lower elevation
OUT = West or away from a more heavily populated area
BACK = East or to wherever one started from
OVER = some relatively short distance nearby (less than 50 miles or so)

In the thread I couldn't locate, there were many variations on these terms, to the extent that if one were to travel very far it would likely involve changes in their meanings.
A little more searching came up with that old thread: Down/Up/Over/Out/Back/etc. in Giving Directions
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  #11  
Old 07-18-2006, 08:47 AM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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I'm interested in capital cities and the terminology used when visiting them.

Irrespective of the starting point, there are people who obviously invest a greater importance in London and thus persist in going 'up' to London. Such people are probably Londoners.

Do Americans go up to Washington, Canadians up to Ottawa, Australians up to Canberra, Swedes up to Upsala, only joking about that last one.
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  #12  
Old 07-18-2006, 09:25 AM
SanVito SanVito is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chez Guevara
Irrespective of the starting point, there are people who obviously invest a greater importance in London and thus persist in going 'up' to London. Such people are probably Londoners.
I remember being taught that you go 'up to' the capital city (London in this case). BTW I'm from Birmingham originally, which is why I remember it as I found it hard to get my head around at the time, London being in the south an'all.
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  #13  
Old 07-18-2006, 11:27 AM
Baffle Baffle is offline
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Places I go to often enough: Grand Bend is "up" even though it's about two hours almost due west. This is probably because it's on Lake Huron which is further up the watershed and a higher elevation than Lake Ontario which I'm half an hour from. Around here we considering anything on Lake Huron to be "up North" anyway, though no doubt somebody from Sudbury would see it differently.

Toronto is just "going to Toronto", there's no direction involved.

Niagara Falls is "down", probably for the same reason that Grand Bend is up, plus it's more southeast than east.

From this I infer that it is dependent both on direction and elevation, but mostly on local perceptions.
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  #14  
Old 07-18-2006, 11:52 AM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeldar
IOUT = West or away from a more heavily populated area
BACK = East or to wherever one started from
Aren't these pretty much Americanisms? They make sense here considering that the country was settled pretty much from east to west. Everyone who was "out there" in the frontier wilderness came from "back there."
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  #15  
Old 07-18-2006, 12:01 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chez Guevara
I'm interested in capital cities and the terminology used when visiting them.
In Panama, everyplace outside the city of Panamá (the capital and by far the largest city, with almost a third of the country's population) and its immediate suburbs is called "the Interior," even if its on the coast.

There is no "up" or "down" involved. If you are anywhere in Panama and say you are going "to Panamá" or "to the city" it is understood you mean the capital.
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  #16  
Old 07-18-2006, 12:18 PM
Mycroft H. Mycroft H. is offline
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I used to live in England in the mid-70s. (Middlesbrough area.) I noticed the “up to London” phrasing, both spoken and written, and wondered about it then. It seemed to be more the older people who said that, but reflecting on that, just about everyone was older than me back then. I heard it enough that I still remember it. I put it down to the perceived importance of London to the rest of the country. Sorry, no citation.

In Minnesota the reference is always direction oriented. “Up to,” “down to” or “over to” the Twin Cities/St. Paul.
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  #17  
Old 07-18-2006, 12:19 PM
Rayne Man Rayne Man is offline
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In railway parlance the "up" line is the one leading to London and the "down" away. To complicate matters railway people will talk of up and down lines even for routes that don't go to London.

The only explanation for the convention is this. I don't now how true it is.

In the early days of railways there were few trains and the timetable could be written on a single sheet, with the most important terminus at the top, and stations going down the left. Trains in both directions were written on this. So if London was at the top then if you wanted trains from London you read DOWN the page, and trains to London were read UP the page.

When there were two tracks the track corresponding to the up direction of the timetable was the Up line and the other the Down line.

If one end of the line covered was London trains to it were always UP (hence you always say "I'm going up to London"). Otherwise the main centre of the railway company might be used, eg Derby in the case of the Midland.

On all lines there was always an assumed Up and Down direction for ease of referring to the tracks (if more than one) and the trains. This terminology is still used today.
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  #18  
Old 07-18-2006, 01:13 PM
TJdude825 TJdude825 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout
I should probably add that if I lived somewhere mountainous, and was travelling from the plains to a mountaintop, I would almost certainly say "up to' regardless of compass direction.
Exactly what I was going to say. In fact, when I'm going to Palos Verdes, I say I'm going up, because getting there involves driving up a steep hill. But when I was first learning the route, I would say I was going down, because it was just about due south on the map.

I think if you were going to the capital because you were angry, it would certainly be down. "I'm going to march down there and give the legislature a piece of my mind!" Otherwise, it could be either one, as far as I'm concerned.
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  #19  
Old 07-18-2006, 01:21 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Very narrow range to this reply: of the capitol buildings I'm familiar with firsthand (Montgomery, Atlanta, Nashville) all are on a hill of some description, and thus there is a Capitol Hill. So "up" makes sense for the building. Whether that's the part of the capital you're going to might make a difference in your choice of preposition regardless of where the city is located in relation to the start of your trip.

Are there some Capitol Buildings located below the average elevation of the city where they're located?
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  #20  
Old 07-18-2006, 01:44 PM
ErinPuff ErinPuff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chez Guevara
I'm interested in capital cities and the terminology used when visiting them.

Irrespective of the starting point, there are people who obviously invest a greater importance in London and thus persist in going 'up' to London. Such people are probably Londoners.

Do Americans go up to Washington, Canadians up to Ottawa, Australians up to Canberra, Swedes up to Upsala, only joking about that last one.
I live near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a few hours northeast of Washington D.C., and would go "down" (south) to visit there. For the state capital, Harrisburg, I would go "out" (west).
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  #21  
Old 07-18-2006, 03:56 PM
Bytegeist Bytegeist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chez Guevara
Do Americans go up to Washington . . .
I think we generally just say "to Washington" in most of the country. In the northeast cities, you might hear "down to" about as often. (Ah, I see ErinPuff confirms that.) But in the southeast, you won't really hear "up to Washington" so much.

Where I live and work, just a few miles away from DC, we actually say, "I'm going into Washington. (Wish me luck)".
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  #22  
Old 07-18-2006, 04:04 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Ohioan checking in. Washington, D.C. is to the SE of here. In my experience, most people will say "down to Washington" or simply "to Washington." For those who say "down to," it's a simple description of direction, not an indication of revulsion with the national capital or its officialdom.
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  #23  
Old 07-18-2006, 06:25 PM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Many thanks for all the replies. I think I've got a handle on national and regional usage which is what I was looking for.

I hadn't thought of the railway system. I'm not sure it's relevant but I used to be a trainspotter, for which activity please forgive me. I was very young at the time.
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  #24  
Old 07-18-2006, 07:44 PM
TheLoadedDog TheLoadedDog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chez Guevara
...Australians up to Canberra...
I wouldn't know. Nobody in their right mind ever goes there.

Seriously, it's purely based on the compass. I live in Sydney, and would go down to Canberra, Melbourne, or Hobart, up to Brisbane or Darwin, and over to Perth. I have heard of some parochial Australians pointedly using over to where it would more sensibly be up to, but that's rare.

The only exception is the nations railways, where UP trains always go to the state capital, and DOWN trains go away from it. When I went to Melbourne by rail last week, my train was going down until it crossed the Victorian border, and then it started going up.
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  #25  
Old 07-18-2006, 09:36 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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Wait, you're traveling to your money? You have so much you have to store it off site?
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