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To the ancient Egyptians, up was south and down north because of the
direction of the flow of the Nile.
In English, upriver and downriver reflect that.

North as up might have to do with the pole star as a fixed point,

For speculation about directions in conlangs, what would be the directions
for a conworld that has two suns and several moons? Or for an alien race
that dwells totally underground? I believe that physical situation as well
as culture affect perception of directions.

Consider the view of indigenous South Americans who view the past as in
front of them and the future behind because one can see what is past and
not what will be.

Que Dios te bendiga de siempre y de todas maneras,
Paul

On Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 6:48 AM, Alex Fink <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Tue, 12 Jan 2016 16:47:06 +0000, David McCann <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>
> >Traditionally at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, one comes
> >"up" to the university and goes "down" when one goes home. So two
> >students, one from York and one from London, go down in opposite
> >directions! We have a more complex approach in London: I'd go up to
> >Norwich (north-east) but down to Bristol (west).
>
> This reminds me of the nomenclature for railway lines, which is parallel:
> the up line is the one towards the centre, commonly London but potentially
> Edinburgh vel sim., and the down line the one away from the centre.
> Wikipedia traces this usage to early railways going up to the mines and
> down to the ports, but I'm not convinced: wouldn't the ports have been more
> centre-like?  Rather this university usage seems cognate, and it could well
> predate rail.
>
> WP also says the Sinosphere shares this usage.  I wonder whether that's
> independent.
>
> And of course -- what in metaphory is ever a hundred percent consistent --
> English also has "downtown" 'city center'.  That one appears to be a
> generalisation from Manhattan, where the downtown was at the south of the
> island, thus perpetuating the SOUTH IS DOWN that we began on.
>
> Alex
>