Wednesday Word of the Week: border

border (BOR-dur) noun. natural or artificial line separating two pieces of land.

"We need to make the border the center, not the end," says San Diego Mayor Bob Filner." Photograph courtesy Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde, National Guard

A fence draws a distinct divide between the busy city of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, (right) and the United States Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector.
Photograph courtesy Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde, National Guard

Borders are interesting, at least to me anyway. I like mulling over maps with country borders. (So there’s the dividing line between Albania and Macedonia!) In my living room there is an artist’s rendition of the borders between the neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

I also love language and am tickled when I look at maps that delineate the borders of colloquialisms, like soda vs. pop and sub vs. hoagie. I was floored at the prevalence of tennis shoes. I’m a sneakers girl, myself.

This weekend I trekked around the hamlet of Harpers Ferry. While driving there, I passed through three state borders—Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia—in the space of a few miles.

It’s funny how most borders are invisible in real life, the tangible lines on maps usually being roads. In fact, you generally wouldn’t know you’ve traversed a state border but for the big friendly welcome signs. A couple months ago, I was driving with some coworkers in the Smokies in Tennessee. All of a sudden, or so it felt, we saw a sign welcoming us into North Carolina. We didn’t know our course was bound for another state, truth be told.

What borders do you cross in your life?

Written by Jessica Shea, National Geographic Center for Geo-Education.

2 responses to “Wednesday Word of the Week: border

  1. For younger children, begin with the concept of borders in their own yards…fences, shrubs, actual markers, where they stop mowing because of natural or man -made borders

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