A NY Times story by David W. Dunlap in today’s Metro section, “Restoring Elegance Underfoot on a Street Long Past Its Prime” (about the restoration of the cobblestone surface of Bond Street), ends with the following admirable paragraph:
What New Yorkers call cobblestones are more accurately described as Belgian blocks — true cobblestones being rounded and irregular — but saying so is the province of a scold. And it is probably no more effective than insisting that the horse-drawn carriages on Central Park South are not hansom cabs.
That’s what I try to do here on Languagehat: provide accurate information without pretending that accuracy is always to be worshiped. I’m glad to know the correct term is “Belgian blocks,” but I will go on calling them cobblestones, just as I call tsunamis tidal waves. Let them scold who will!