|Mall Semantics, Folk Categoization at Language Log
||[Apr. 4th, 2005|08:34 am]
Webreviews- Philosophy, Science, Literature...
April 03, 2005|
Caught on the "international male" page (about shopping opportunities for gay men, all over the world) in the March 2005 issue of Instinct, p. 38:
Another recent addition to L.A. is the Grove, an outdoor mall, which has your basics (Banana Republic) as well as department stores and more boutiquey shops.
Surely "outdoor (shopping) mall" has come past my eyes thousands of times, but this was the first time I reflected on it. Its meaning is (almost) transparent, so it's unlikely to find a place in dictionaries (and, indeed, it's not in the OED Online). Still, it's not without some interest semantically.
This will be a little adventure in folk categorization.
First, "outdoor mall" has the form of a marked, special case: your classic (shopping) mall -- the Galleria, the Mall of America -- is indoors, under a roof. Outdoor malls are, well, outdoors and open to the sky.
But an outdoor mall isn't just a place to shop that happens to be open to the elements. it shares one crucial element with indoor malls: easy pedestrian access from one store to another, without interference from traffic.
So your ordinary "shopping street", like Fifth Avenue, doesn't count as a mall, because of the traffic on the avenue and the side streets. More generally, city "shopping districts" don't count as malls. If, however, the shopping street or district is closed to traffic, then we have a species of outdoor mall, sometimes described as an "outdoor pedestrian mall". (I draw here from some of the 46,900 sites that Google provides for "outdoor mall".)
And your ordinary "shopping center", with clusters of stores sprinkled around a gigantic parking lot, doesn't count as a mall, because pedestrian access from one store to another is not, in general, easy. At the San Antonio Center, a few miles south of me, it borders on the harrowing, in fact, and I don't recall anyone ever referring to the place as a "mall". If, however, you clump all the stores together in a central core, with the parking all around it, then you have an outdoor mall. So the Stanford Shopping Center,
Mall Semantics, Folk Categoization at Language Log Posted by Arnold Zwicky at April 3, 2005 08:42 PM