National Geographic : 1890 Aug
264 National Geographic Magazine. referred to may be included in one question, and when we attempt to determine that which is best they become very perplexing. In seeking advice we are met with a variety of views ; some will maintain that we should take the nick-names given by the fish ermen ; some prefer names that have been recognized independ ent of nick-names; some will abhor corruptions, while others prefer the corruptions, if expressive and in general use. The ex perts are very prone to hunting up the root, or, if necessary, to constructing one, and throwing out everything that will not con form with it. The fact that our country was settled by French, Spanish, and English, and that many names are derived from the Indian dialects, also causes peculiar difficulties in treating some sections. The rules of the Royal Geographical Society can be a great help, so far as they are applicable ; they seem to have been used in the modern spelling of " Dakota"-for the man-of-war we had of this name some years ago, it was spelled " Dacotah," but in the name of the States recently admitted to the Union, " k" has been substituted for the hard " c " and the final " h " has been dropped. There is also great disagreement as to the propriety of the use of the possessive case ; some will not admit it at all, others would like to drop the apostrophe and retain the " s" in certain cases for euphony: this is a question that requires special consideration in each case, as the omission of the possessive will sometime give the name a descriptive meaning not at all appli cable to the locality or feature. The propriety of personal names is also questioned by many, and may lead to continued discus sion in Alaskan nomenclature, where explorers and surveyors have been so liberal in bestowing new names on the same places. It would seem to be a good rule in selecting a new name to fol low the old Indian custom of describing the place. An oppor tunity for an expressive nomenclature seems to have been lost in the north-west in transferring so many of our eastern names, instead of selecting new names from the rich native vocabularies. As different bureaus may be governed by different principles, and may not even be consistent in their own rulings, through new principles that may come in by the frequent change of personnel, it has heretofore been impracticable to secure uniformity, and dis puted questions have been carried along for years. The board that has been organized is in the direction of developing uni formity in the practice of all. It is no easy task, but if guided by a generous spirit, willing to yield a little here and there, its object may be successfully accomplished.
1891 Mar 28