Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/710

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

is accented on the first syllable; and apparā'tus does duty in both the singular and the plural numbers. Quan'tiva"lence, ū'niva"lent, etc., have both a primary and a secondary accent, as has no'mencla"ture. A few more preferred pronunciations are con'centra"ted, mǒl'ecule, mǒlĕc'ular, and ǎldehȳde; both crystallĭn and crystallīne are accepted. Probably the boldest change in spelling is the substitution of f for ph in sulfur and all its derivatives. Phosphorus, however, remains unchanged.

Where two or more names are in use for the same thing, the chemists have given a preference to one of them. Thus, they advise the use of caffein rather than thein, hydrogen sulfid rather than sulfuretted hydrogen, valence rather than quantivalence, and univalent, bivalent, etc., rather than monovalent, divalent, etc.

A large number of other decisions have been rendered, but the foregoing are all that affect words that are in general use, or much used by teachers. The changes which the chemists have decided on are far from being radical. They are all plainly dictated by common sense, and it is to be hoped and expected that they speedily will become the prevailing usage.


Geographical names are also undergoing a revision both here and abroad. There has been heretofore a most perplexing diversity in the spelling of many of them. Names of places in Asia or northern Africa, which are written by their inhabitants in Arabic or some other Eastern language, must be transliterated when they appear in the Roman alphabet. English-speaking geographers would transliterate these names after the analogies of their own language, French geographers would follow the different usage of their language, and the Germans would do likewise. If any language admitted an alternative way of spelling, some author would be sure to adopt it; so that, in the case of an important town in Syria (Beirut), no less than twelve ways of spelling its name have arisen among Western peoples.

Then there were names of places, rivers, etc., in the unwritten native languages of Africa, the Pacific islands, and America, concerning which the same diversity has prevailed. Sometimes a strange spelling has had the force to bring in a mispronunciation. The early English explorers found a nation of Indians in eastern North America whose name they spelled Algonkin. The French explorers, having no k in their language, and being accustomed to represent the k-sound by qu, spelled the same name Algonquin. Both spellings persist to this day, and many among us, the descendants of the Englishmen, having become acquainted with the form Algonquin through the eye and not through the ear, have given the qu its English value in pronouncing the word, and say wrongly, "Algonkwin."