ศัพท์ น่าสับสน ชุด U – urban & urbane
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ออกเสียง urban = ‘UR-buhn’
ออกเสียง urbane = ‘ur-BEYN’
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree
Urban = relating to a city;
= characteristicof city life:
There are many benefits to urban living.
Not to be confused with:
urbane = polished and elegant in manneror style;
He has a sophisticated, urbane way about him.
[Urban and urbane once meant the same thing:
belonging to a city.
Both words are derived from the Latin urbanis.
Later, urbane developedthe more specialized sense
of refined, polite, and elegant,
which were considered to be characteristics of those
who lived in cities rather than those living in the country.]
HISTORICALUSAGE OF URBAN
In the United States,
racial identitieshave historically been
interwoven with disparate economicand geographical experiences.
This has given rise to a coded language
In which the terms urban and suburban
have distinct racial connotations.
In the early 20th century,
factories in northern cities recruited large numbers of
African Americans from southern states.
This migration north transformed the
historically rural Black American experience into an urban one.
In the 1950s, courts outlawed segregation
and mandated the racial integration of schools,
resultingin decades of white flight.
Many white families abandoned inner-cityneighborhoods,
relocating themselves and their assets to suburban communities.
Discriminationover the years kept suburbia largely white
and wealthy, enjoying well-funded school districts and other amenities.
Meanwhile, urban life, especially in the inner city,
became increasingly associated with poverty and decay.
In response, the government
built housing projectsfor low-income residents,
but this further concentrated poverty in isolated neighborhoods
(ghettos that became popularly knownas 'hoods ).
By the end of the 20th century,
inner-city urban lifewas associated with African Americans
of low socioeconomic status.
Similarly, in discussions about poverty, crime, and drugs,
the terms inner-city and urban
became convenient euphemisms for Black
—a way to avoid implying causality between race and life circumstance.
The term urban can factually describe a particular living situation,
for example, urban poverty versus rural poverty.
However, as a euphemism for slums, crime, or race,
the use of the term urban is inaccurate, outdated, and offensive.
Such use is inaccurate and outdated
because city neighborhoods have been steadily changing.
Urban renewal and gentrification have brought new residents
and assets to city centers.
Urban poverty still exists, but its current manifestation doesn’t match the stereotypes of decay, gang violence, and drug culture built around news stories and images from the 1970s and 1980s.
Even more offensive is the inaccurate substitution of urban
to mean Black when not referring to city dwellers.
If two cowboys get into a fist fight in a rural honky-tonk, and if one of them is white and one is Black, the reporting of that story should in no way refer to one of those men as urban .
Even accurate use of the word urban may raise troubling racial issues.
If someone who authentically claims an urban identity
creates a line of clothing and markets it to suburban consumers,
is calling that clothing urban acceptable?
Does the Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album promote recognition of R & B fusion artists, or does it mean that there are two separate but equal Grammy Awards for Album of the Year?
It should be clear
whether one is talking about race (Black civil rights leaders),
poverty (educational opportunities for low socioeconomic status students),
or geography (urban food insecurity and rural hunger).
While the terms urban or inner-city
can evoke one specific minority experience in the United States,
they should not be used interchangeably
with racial identity words like Black or African American.
Nor should suburban be used indiscriminately
to reference white America.
Each of these circumstances and identities is a mix of class and geography, albeit with strong racial associations.
The terms urban and suburban should therefore
be used mindfullyand only when evoking
all aspects of those specific American experiences.
The Suburbs vs. the Urbs
Given that most of the common words in our language
beginning sub- tend to have meanings concerned with “beneath”
(as in subterranean and submarine)
or “less than” (as with subpar),
you would be forgiven for assuming that
the suburbs were so namedbecause of their location below,
or their status as less than, their urban counterparts.
Not so, however:
sub-may have other meanings at the beginning of a word;
in this case, it indicates not depth or inferiority, but proximity.
In other words, the suburbs are a region close to the urbs.
Is urbs an English word?
Yes; it is rarely used, but it refers typically to a city,
particularly when distinguished from a suburb.
Choose the Right Synonym for urbane
mean pleasantlytactful and well-mannered.
SUAVE suggests a specific ability to deal with others easily and without friction.
a suave public relations coordinator
URBANE implies high cultivation and poise coming from wide social experience.
an urbane traveler
DIPLOMATIC stresses an ability to deal with ticklish situations tactfully.
a diplomatic negotiator
BLAND emphasizes mildness of manner and absence of irritating qualities.
a bland master of ceremonies
SMOOTH suggests often a deliberately assumed suavity.
POLITIC implies shrewd as well as tactful and suave handling of people.
a cunningly politic manager
When Should You Use urbane?
City slickersand country folk have long debated
whether life is better in town or in the wide open spaces,
and urbane is a term that springs from the throes of that debate.
The word traces back to Latin urbs, meaning "city,"
and in its earliest English uses
urbane was synonymous with its close relative urban
("of, relating to, characteristic of, or constituting a city").
Urbane developed its modern sense of savoir faire
from the belief (no doubt fostered by city dwellers)
that living in the city made one more
suave and polished than did leading a rural life.
A national vocab test showed that most eighth graders don't know ...
Lookups spiked on December 6, 2012.
News reports about a national vocabulary test revealed that
a majority of eighth graders didn't knowwhat the word urbane means.
Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the test used vocabulary at appropriate reading levels for fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders. The average eighth grade score was 265 out of 500.
Urbane means "notably polite or polished in manner."
It comes from the Latin urbanus, which meant both "of the city"
- the origin of the English word urban - and "elegant and sophisticated," qualities associated with city living in ancient times.
Because urbane was looked up frequently after this news was released,
it's probable that eighth-graders aren't the only people who don't know what the word means.
One reason, perhaps, is that the word isn't used as much as it once was
- either because urbanity is in decline,
or simply because words like sophisticated are used more often instead.
Words at Play
notably polite or polished in manner
"Inside the narrow dining room is a mix of rustic and urbane, with dish towels for napkins, brick walls hung with abstract paintings and light bulbs hooded by vaguely laboratorial shades." - Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, October 31, 2013
About the Word:
Would you rather be urbane or suave?
Here's the difference:
urbane typically suggests
composed cultivationand wide social experience,
while suave tends to emphasize smooth frictionless dealings.
Urbane and urban both come from the Latin urbanus,
meaning "of the city; refined."
Dictionary of Problem Words and Expressions
urban & urbane
Each of these words is derived from a Latin term
referring to a city, but they have distinctmeaning and pronunciations.
Urban (UHR-bun) means
“pertaining to a city,”
“characteristic of city life.”
Urbane (uhr-BAYN) has a meaning of
“reflecting elegance or sophistication,”
“He came from the country and never adjusted to urban life.”
“This woman appears well dressed, poised, and urbane.”