21 November 2016

Naming and place: What Do You Call the Corner Store?

Depanneur in Quebec
This is a fun little piece from Atlas Obscura that teachers might want to bring into a discussion of language: What Do You Call the Corner Store?
Every city has something like this, the anchor tenant in many city-dweller’s mental maps of their neighborhood. But in many places, you’d be laughed out of the building for calling it a “convenience store”. It’s a bodega. It’s a packie. It’s a party store. What you call the store on the corner says a lot about where you live. 
Bodega in New York City
Instructors might ask students to unpack these examples and to think about how this social institution, and the name that we have for it connects to local contexts. How do histories (such as of migration), geography, and politics come together to shape urban spaces?