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I frequently see street signs such as “West America Street” or “North Carolina Avenue”.

Grammatically, is there any way to say with certainty what is meant by “West America Street”?

Is it a street named on honor of the western area on the US?

Alternately, is it the west end of a street named in honor of the US for which there is also an east end?

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closed as not a real question by J.R., tchrist, Kris, Zairja, MετάEd Nov 20 '12 at 15:19

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer 1

Grammatically, there is no way to say whether the four directions are merely indicating which half of the street, road, or avenue you're on. This is not an English Language & Usage question but an empirical question that has to be asked at the city hall in the town with those street names.

If there are many other streets with state names (e.g., South Carolina Ave., Georgia Ave., New York Ave.), then there's a state theme. If not, who knows?

West America Street's probably the western section of America Street, but then there'd have to be an East America Street to confirm that.

One orthographic clue is if the directions are abbreviated as N., S., E., and W.: N. Carolina Ave. is probably the northern section of Carolina Ave. But it's still an empirical question that has to be answered at City Hall.

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Precisely why I'm voting to close as Too Localized. – J.R. Nov 20 '12 at 1:01
Agreed. Maybe there should be another reason for closing Qs: Can be answered using common sense or The Age of Reason didn't die; it just fell into a troubled sleep. – user21497 Nov 20 '12 at 1:12
It's not unreasonable for these questions to come up, given the frequently incompetent ways and places and teachers involved in English "Grammar" teaching, both to native speakers and to non-. The important answer is that compass direction usages (like popular food terms) are all extremely local. For instance, my son lives in Dallas, Texas; his address is XXX West Northwest Highway. A house I used to live in in Logan, Utah had the address Forty-Five East Third North. This is normal, or at least normally chaotic. – John Lawler Nov 20 '12 at 1:38
City planners almost always prove themselves this creative. And it doesn't happen only in America. Street naming conventions in Japan and Taiwan are so arcane that, as a rule, even the locals don't know all the street names in their immediate neighborhoods. – user21497 Nov 20 '12 at 1:45
@JohnLawler: I don't have a problem with the question being asked, either, and that's why I voted to close after Bill gave a decent answer to the question. Sometimes I'll vote to close because a question simply ought to be closed, and other times I'll vote to close after an answer or two has been given, because there's not much else to say on the matter. I wouldn't downvote this question, I just thought it didn't need to stay open. P.S. Great example, btw, West Northwest Hwy. – J.R. Nov 20 '12 at 8:49

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