I have "The Easy Way To Tree Recognition" by John Kilbracken.
It is arranged like a choose your adventure book.
"1) Are all its leaves needle-like? YES, go to section 2. NO, go to section 43."
"2) Do the needles grow singly?" YES, go to section 3. NO, go to section 29."
I put vale and was corrected to dale (the only error in the sentence). The default answer seems to be valley. Is there a reason vale isn't accepted ? Are there words in Swedish that correspond more directly to vale and valley and dalen should really just be translated as dale ?
No, not at all! I use vale quite a bit... where I grew up is full of hills and vales. I guess cos I've always used vales for the landscape where I grew up, I tend to think of vales as less steep/deep than valleys and use valleys more for other places where the landscape has big deep valleys :) But I wouldn't be surprised if the distinction is perculiar to me. Though everyone says the vales rather than valleys or dales round where I grew up.
I would use vale on occasion though I agree that it is fairly poetic/old fashioned and is probably fairly regional as well. I suspect very few Americans would use it for example. I think I probably use it cos I am a bit odd and read a lot of Shakespeare and fantasy fiction when I was younger!!!
I would agree with the distinction you make between vale and valley. For me a vale is a much broader valley, though it might still have steep sides but not necessarily. It's more that it has breadth and could easily have more than just one river/stream that is shaping it.