Your notice is worth a follow-up, Vlirbo. Here is my thought. Itâ€™s nothing new, nothing that you wouldnâ€™t know yet. Though I think itâ€™s worth talking about it.
A language is not a program built up logically as to make a grid of cases for words that would not overlap. A language is a common system used by a people to communicate; it has been historically built up by itself and is constantly developing. Hence there are synonyms, i.e. words which bear more or less the same meaning, even though two synonyms never express exactly the same thing, be it by their writing and uttering which give the words different shapes and soundings, thus might call up different affects to the speaker/listener/writer/reader. To get to know by what one of the words you cite differs from another, just make an enquiry about the words, their origin and particularly about idiomatic expressions in which they appear.
The burg comes from German and Dutch that were used to calling a burg a fortified castle. Since you would be wise using burg to point out a big settlement which is provided with ramparts or an old castle. I wouldnâ€™t call burg a new city recently emerged from nowhere. The word town also comes from fortress in Old Irish but the word has been developing so much that for now a town is an aggregation of houses and buildings a bit less large than a city. You wonâ€™t say that London is a town; itâ€™s a city, even though it behaves an old quarter called the City with its own legendary mayor. From your staying place in a hamlet you go downtown to Birmingham (a city). But the inhabitants of a small town are called citizens.
A village is a settlement usually larger that an hamlet and smaller than a town. Would you split the domains of that three words according to the number of inhabitants, the number of buildings, the income of people, the surface of the area, the nature of the soil, and whatnot? Foolish! I dwell in a village which boasts it is the smaller town in the world. But that is quite controversial because criteria donâ€™t exist.
To my mind metropolis and crossroads are a bit aside of the rest of the list. As metropolis comes from Greek meter (mother) and polis (city), we generally call metropolis large cities that somehow seem to rule over a country, just like a mother-city takes care of a colony. A metropolis is necessarily the capital (or main city) of a region, a country, a state.
As you said, you wouldnâ€™t call crossroads a hamlet or any settlement which is not provided with crossroads, or at least, is not lying along a main road.
It would be quite interesting to list a number of sentences, idioms, quotations of authors or newspapers where the words you cited would come in a context. To my mind, Vlirbo, those words donâ€™t share different proper areas where one starts just where another ends. They overlap each other, even though each word keeps its own character. That makes that a language is no
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Thank you very much, Gee, for this elaborate explanation. I was quite sure it was impossible to distinguish the different appellations of a bunch of houses in that way, but just in case â€¦. If I well understood, in a kind of size classification, we would find : A crossroad assuming there is a road. A hamlet, in the middle of nowhere or near a road. Its streets aren't necessarily covered by tarmac. A village, probably and possibly at the neighbourhood of a church. Some of the streets are covered by tarmac. A town certainly bigger than a village with all or almost all the streets covered by tarmac. If anyone of the three previous ones had a fortification and/or ramparts it could be called a burg. Then comes the city, metropolis, kilopolis, megapolis, gigapolis, etc. I just invented the last ones ;-)
By the way, I forgot to introduce myself, my name is Antonio. Vlirbo stands only for my login name. Antonio (CW)
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