Page:EB1911 - Volume 01.djvu/15

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xvi
EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION

standard in the selection of individuals for separate biographies, and for the briefer treatment, the attempt has been made to carry even a step forward the ideals of the Dictionary in regard to accuracy of detail and critical judgment. This has largely been made possible by the existence of the Dictionary, but the original work done in the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica in the same field—drawing as it can upon a number of biographical articles, already classics, in its earlier editions—gives Inclusive character. it an independent authority even in the sphere of British national biography. Moreover, the inclusion of biographies of eminent persons who died after the Dictionary was supplemented in 1901, and of others still living in 1910, results in a considerable extension of the biographical area, even as regards individuals of British nationality in the narrowest sense. The articles in the Encyclopædia Britannica, however, are of course not limited to personages of the British Islands. Not only are biographies here included of the great men and women of French, German, Italian, Belgian, Dutch, Russian, Scandinavian, Japanese, and other foreign nationalities, as well as of those of the ancient world, but the same standard of selection has been applied to American and British Colonial biography as to English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish. Indeed the Encyclopædia Britannica may now claim for the first time to supply a really adequate Dictionary of American National Biography, covering all those with whom the citizens of the United States are nationally concerned. It thus completes its representation of the English-speaking peoples, to all of whom English history, even in its narrower sense, is a common heritage, and in its evolution a common example.

Another form of the terminological problem, to which reference was made above, is found in the transliteration of foreign names, and the conversion of the names of foreign places and countries English rendering of foreign names. into English equivalents. As regards the latter, there is no English standard which can be said to be universal, though in particular cases there is a convention which it would be absurd to attempt to displace for any reason of supposed superior accuracy. It would be pragmatical in the extreme to force upon the English-speaking world a system of calling all foreign places by their local names, even though it might be thought that each nationality had a right to settle the nomenclature of its country and the towns or districts within it. In general the English conventions must stand. One of these days the world may agree that an international nomenclature is desirable and feasible, but not yet; and the country which its own citizens call Deutschland and the French l'Allemagne still remains Germany to those who use the English language. Similarly Difficulty of the problem. Cologne (Kőln), Florence (Firenze), or Vienna (Wien) are bound to retain their English names in an English book. But all cases are not so simple. The world abounds in less important places, for which the English names have no standardized spelling; different English newspapers on a single day, or a single newspaper at intervals of a few weeks or months, give them several varieties of form; and in Asia or Africa the latest explorer always seems to have a preference for a new one which is unlike that adopted by rival geographers. When the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was started, the suggestion was made that the Royal Geographical Society of London - the premier geographical society of the world—might co-operate in an attempt to secure Geography in particular. the adoption of a standard English geographical and topographical nomenclature. The Society, indeed, has a system of its own which to some extent aims at fulfilling this requirement, though it has failed to impose it upon general use; but unfortunately the Society's system breaks down by admitting a considerable number of exceptions and by failing to settle a very large number of cases which really themselves constitute the difficulty. The co-operation of the Royal Geographical Society for the purpose of enabling the Encyclopædia Britannica to give prominent literary expression to an authoritative spelling for every place—name included within its articles or maps was found to be impracticable; and it was therefore necessary for the Eleventh Edition to adopt a consistent spelling which would represent its own judgment and authority. It is hoped that by degrees this spelling may recommend itself in other quarters. Where reasonably possible, the local spelling popularized by the usage of post-offices or railways has been preferred to any purely philological system of transliteration, but there are numerous cases where even this test of public convenience breaks down and some form of Anglicization becomes essential to an English gazetteer having an organic unity of its own. Apart from the continuance of English conventions which appeared sufficiently crystallized, the most authori-