Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/712

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board is to make no changes unless a decided improvement can be secured thereby. Its first principle is that the spelling and pronunciation which are sanctioned by local usage should be adopted in general. Even where the present name is a changed or corrupted one, if it has become firmly established the board keeps its hands off. But where a choice is offered between two or more names for the same locality, all sanctioned by local usage, the opportunity to secure the most appropriate and euphonious one is improved. The possessive form of names is discarded wherever practicable, sometimes by dropping both the (') and the s, for instance changing Gedney's to Gedney Channel, in New York Harbor, and in cases where so much change has not seemed advisable, simply omitting the ('). By the latter procedure, which is practically changing to the plural form, Minot's Ledge, in Boston Harbor, becomes Minots Ledge. The final h is dropped from names ending in -burgh, and the ending -borough is shortened to boro. The spelling center is always used rather than centre. The board discourages the use of diacritic marks over letters, and hyphens between parts of names; where a name consists of more than one word it prefers to combine the parts into one. The use of the words City, Town, and Court House (abbreviated C. H.) as parts of place-names is deemed undesirable.

The first report of the board has been issued recently and contains a list of decisions made during the year which it covers. More than two thousand questions have been submitted to the board, and decisions have been given upon nearly all of them. Early in the year it was called upon to decide concerning several hundred names in Alaska, where the utmost confusion exists concerning geographic nomenclature. To the difficulty of transliterating Russian and Indian words into English letters is added the confusion caused by the fact that expedition after expedition, exploring this region, has assigned new names to the geographic features of the country, ignoring those already given. This state of affairs has induced the board to undertake a complete revision of Alaskan names, the result of which will be a geographical dictionary of the Territory. One of the three bulletins issued during the year contained a list of between five and six hundred decisions rendered at the instance of the Lighthouse Board, and fully a thousand questions were answered for the Census Office. The names of all the counties in the United States have been passed upon, and the approved list appears in the report.

Among the United States names that have been revised are: Bering (Sea and Strait), in place of Behring, the h being a German addition to the original Danish name: Fort Monroe, this, not Fortress Monroe, being the name given to the works at Old Point Comfort by the Secretary of War in 1828; Pedee, for the river