In 1885 the Council of the Royal Geographical Society of England began a movement in behalf of systematic spelling in geographical names, which has yielded most gratifying results. The society adopted a system having the same basis that is employed for all scientific modes of spelling, namely, vowels pronounced as in Italian (or German), and consonants as in English. This system has been adopted by the British Admiralty Office, by the War, Foreign, and Colonial Offices, and by the last has been recommended to the colonies.
In September, 1890, the United States Board on Geographic Names was created by order of the President of the United States, for the purpose of securing uniformity of geographical nomenclature in Government publications.
The board consists of ten officials in the departments at Washington, with Prof. Thomas C. Mendenhall, Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, as chairman. For spelling names from Oriental or unwritten languages, this board has adopted a system practically identical with that used by the British Government offices. Since France, Germany, and Spain have adopted methods substantially the same as this, the great map-making nations of the world are now in close agreement as to geographical spelling. The alphabet is used as follows by the board in representing the sounds of Oriental and unwritten languages: a as in father (Java, Somáli), e as in men (Tel el Kebír), i as in ravine (Fiji), o as in mote, and u as oo in boot. All vowels are shortened in sound when the following consonant is doubled. ( Yarra, Jidda). Doubling a vowel is necessary only where there is a distinct repetition of its sound. English i in ice is represented by ai (Shanghai), au represents ow in how (Fuchau), ao is slightly different from au (Nanao), and ei is scarcely to be distinguished from ey in they (Beirút).
Among the consonants, b, d, I, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, x, and z are the same as in English; c is always soft (Celebes), ch as in church (Chingchin), f as in English, and its sound is never represented by ph (Haifong), g is always hard, h is always pronounced when inserted, j as in English, and its sound is never represented by dj (Jinchuen), k as in English, and always takes the place of hard c (Korea), kh stands for the Oriental guttural (Khan), gh is another guttural as in the Turkish (Dagh, Ghazi), ng as in finger, also as in singer, q is not used, qu being replaced by kw (Kwangtung), y is always a consonant and is to be replaced by i wherever it has been used as a vowel (Mikindani). Accents should not generally be used, but where there is a very decided emphatic syllable or stress which affects the sound of the word it should be marked by an acute accent (Galápagos, Saráwak).
With regard to names in the United States the policy of the