How a British town becomes a city

Notes from the U.K.

The English language plays tricks when it travels from one country to another, so if you asked me to define a city I’d have to ask you where the city is. Or where you are. 

Some days, I’d have to ask you where I am.

In the US, it’s fairly simple: A city’s a place where a lot of people live. How many? Um, yeah, no one’s drawn a clear line to separate it from a town.

In Britain, though, a town has to do more than get big to become a city. And in some cases, it doesn’t even have to get big.

The informal definition

Most people in Britain will tell you that a city has to have a cathedral, although one article I read claims a university will do just as well, and a few people think the town has to gather up a lot of people…

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