Intersection, junction and crossroads

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Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by nawee » Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:28 am

Hello,

I have always been confused by these terms: intersection, junction and crossroads. I have heard that the usage is regional. "Intersection" is an American term for the British "junction". What about "crossroads"? Does "crossroads" have to be a 4-way intersection?

Thank you.

Nawee
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:38 am

According to the Oxford Dictionary, and I see no real reason to argue, a crossroads is a place where two or more roads intersect.

One road joining but not crossing another would be a T Junction for obvious reasons, but I see no reason why providing one road does actually cross over another that it should not be called a crossroads, even if it would resemble an asterisk.
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by Phil White » Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:43 pm

Hi nawee,

As it happens, I do a lot of translation work on road planning and traffic safety. These terms are a huge problem.

In colloquial British English, a crossroad(s) is virtually always used to mean the point at which two roads cross. I.e. there are four arms to the cross. The term "junction" is used for the meeting of any number of roads, including a crossroads. Bob has already mentioned T-junctions, but there are also "spaghetti junctions", including the famous one on the M6 motorway near Birmingham.
In official documents, the term "crossroad(s)" is generally avoided and "junction" or "intersection" are used.

In American English, I believe that "crossroad" is far less common colloquially. The term "intersection" is used in formal documents and, as far as I know, also colloquially. For very large intersections of freeways and other multi-carriageway roads, the term "interchange" is used.

In reality, of course, you may hear any of the terms in the UK or in the US, except for "interchange", which is not used in the UK.

In formal documents, "intersection" will pretty well never be wrong, either in the US or the UK, no matter how many roads are involved. In colloquial speech in the UK, you won't go far wrong if you use "crossroads" for where two roads actually cross and use "junction" for anything else.
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by Wizard of Oz » Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:21 am

.. hi nawee, in Aus we use intersection most often when referring to where roads meet and the specialty T-intersection for obvious reasons .. the terms junction and crossroads now tend to refer to special places that have an historical meaning .. just near me is the suburb The Junction and this was named as it was the junction of old coal rail lines .. in Newcastle if you tell someone when giving directions .. "to go to/through "the crossroads" .. they will know, as a local, that you are referring to the intersection at Glendale .. there are also places in Sydney that I am aware of that also carry this implied reference ..

.. in history Crossroads were special places .. the gibbet used to display people was often set-up at a crossroads as it was believed that this was a place where the devil could cross over into our world to claim his own .. the same being true for demons, fairies and other sprites and spirit people .. this was true in many cultures around the world ..

WoZ
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by tony h » Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:19 pm

But a T junction is only a T junction if you are going up the T. If you are going across the top it is simply a junction.
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:28 am

.. tony I can't agree with that .. if you are giving directions to somebody and they are proceeding along a road you would say, "You come to a T intersection and you turn left." .. or .. "You come to a T intersection but go straight through to the next roundabout." .. or something like that ..

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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by Phil White » Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:47 am

Now there's odd. Thanks for the insight, WoZ. For me as a UK speaker, Tony has it on the nail.

We always tend to think of the distinctions between regional variants of English as being primarily in individual words and phrases, and not so much in the way we put them together. And certainly not in the way we actually conceptualize things.

As Tony said, for him and me, and I suspect for most Brits, a T-junction is only a T-junction if you are on the "leg", not on the "crossbar" (and possibly if you are a road planner looking at the junction objectively).

Imagine the following scenario: There is a road that meets another road in the form of at T, but the right of way for traffic is not across the "crossbar", but along the leg and one arm. Exactly the same road layout as a T-junction, but with an unusual right of way. I am certain that nobody here would call that a T-junction.

Also, I feel that pedestrians would rarely refer to a T-junction, whereas motorists would.
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:20 am

Wizard of Oz wrote:if you are giving directions to somebody and they are proceeding along a road you would say, "You come to a T intersection and you turn left." .. or .. "You come to a T intersection but go straight through to the next roundabout." .. or something like that ..
In situations where I am travelling along a road and the T-junction is, from my point of view, merely a side road, I'd be unlikely to refer to it as a T-junction/T-intersection. If I was giving those directions, as a native British speaker I'd probably say something like:
"When you reach a side turning, you turn left", or "You'll see a side road, but go straight past it to the next roundabout".
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:55 am

When is a T-junction not a T-junction?

Yes, it's a rare piece of language where the referent doesn't change, but the correct term (in the UK, at least) does depending on how you (physically or notionally) approach it. A deictic noun.
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by tony h » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:00 pm

Edwin, I agree. Although I would point out that a left hand turn approached from the other direction is a right hand turn

WoZ: intrigued to know how the road signs look. In the UK a T junction has a sign that looks like a T http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/eurocrisispress/ ... on_svg.png whereas a side road sign does not. http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/03/ ... 3cdde3.jpg
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Re: Intersection, junction and crossroads

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:43 am

.. tony in Aus we use what is probably the International sign viz, a yellow diamond with a large T on it .. the direction of the T denotes the direction of the road you are approaching ..

.. Phil yes I agree that pedestrians have a different take on directions probably referring to distance walked or landmarks .. such as pubs ..

.. with our road rules now it is very unusual for the crossbar of the T intersection to not have automatic right of way .. if this is not the case it would be governed by a "STOP" or "GIVE WAY" sign on the side of the crossroad that had to yield ..

.. but with all that siad and done the most difficult thing for us when we drive O/S is using the wrong side of the road .. yes yes I realise all the debate about who is right and who is wrong ..

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