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Independently of the advantage, whatever it may be, resulting from this work, considered merely as a system of orthoepy, another may be mentioned, which, it is hoped, will be found not an unimportant one, viz: Such a pronouncing gazetteer would dispel the perplexity and error into which the learner is constantly liable to fall, in consequence of the diversity which prevails in the mode of spelling many foreign, especially oriental, names. There is a town of some note in Upper Egypt, which is usually spelled in our gazetteers after the French manner, Aboutige, while on some of our maps it is written Abootish, which is the English mode of expressing the same sound. Abootizh, however, would represent it more exactly. Is it probable that any mere English scholar, however well educated, would know, unless he were expressly taught, that by these two words was indicated one and the same place? or that Tchernigoff, and Czernigow, are but different spellings of the same name, and represent, in fact, the same sound? We find the capital of Afghanistan frequently spelled in three different ways, usually Cabul, according to the German, Italian, and Portuguese, more seldom Cabool, after the English, and Caboul, after the French mode. Oorfa, an important town of Asiatic Turkey, is often written in works of the highest character, Urfa, and Ourfa, the first being the English, the second the Italian or German, and the last the French mode Innumerable instances of a similar kind might be adduced.
As might be expected, this diversity in spelling geographical names frequently leads to important errors. In some of our gazetteers we find the same name introduced twice, the authors naturally supposing the different spellings to represent the names of different places. We may cite a single instance, which occurs in one of our most popular geographical dictionaries. Schirvan (more properly Schirwan,) the German, and Shirvan, the English spelling of the
name of a Persian province, are given under different heads, as designating two distinct territories. It happens, also— probably in consequence of a discrepancy in the works from which the compilation was made—that the boundaries, as well as the latitude and longitude, are laid down differently, so that it is impossible that any one should know, without referring to some other work, that Schirvan and Shirvan, are properly one and the same name.
It will be seen, from the fifteenth section of our Introduction, that the plan which we have pursued, precludes the possibility of any mistakes of this kind, at the same time that it furnishes an easy clue to the labyrinth of perplexity, into which the various modes of writing the same geographical names, must, of necessity, lead the inexperienced reader.
With regard to the descriptive, statistical and historical portions of this gazetteer, it may be remarked, that we have endeavoured to consult, on every subject, the best authorities with which we are acquainted. We have aimed to make, as far as practicable, Balbi's celebrated Abrégé de Géographie (last edition—1842,) a production of unequalled merit, the basis of our work. We have, also, drawn largely from the geographical department of the Penny Cyclopædia, which, at least, so far as regards the correctness of the information it conveys, is unquestionably the best work on geography in the English language. McCulloch's New Geographical Dictionary, Malte Brun's Geography, and the Edinburgh Gazetteer, have likewise been extensively consulted.
The accompanying map of the United States, besides showing the position of the states, and of the principal towns, rivers, &c., will, it is believed, exhibit, more satisfactorily than could be done in any other mode, the situation, length, &c., of all the different canals and railroads in the Union, these not having been described in the body of the work.
In a work so limited as the present, when so much must be omitted, and so little, comparatively speaking, could be inserted, it has been a point of the highest importance to make a judicious selection of matter. Without claiming to have made such a selection, we may, as an act of justice to ourselves, affirm, that it has been our sincere endeavour, to comprise the greatest possible amount of useful information in a small compass; and should it appear that some important subjects are omitted, while to others of less consequence, a place has been given in our dictionary, we doubt not that the candid reader will bear in mind, that there must always be some difference of judgment in matters of this kind, and that even among the most intelligent and enlightened, perhaps no two individuals can be found, who will assign to a number of different subjects, the same relative importance.
It will be seen that a smaller proportion of names belonging to our own country, is inserted in this work, than is usual in gazetteers published in the United States. We admit that, generally speaking, it is more important to possess information about places in our own country, than those in distant parts of the globe, but as in this instance the great object has been to give the pronunciation of geographical names, it seemed proper, in a book of so limited a compass, to prefer the difficult names of foreign countries, to those of our own which might be readily pronounced without the aid of a dictionary
To the following gentlemen we are chiefly indebted for our information respecting the pronunciation of the names of places in foreign countries, as well as for the general principles of pronunciation of the different foreign languages noticed in our Introduction. Justice, however, requires us to state distinctly, that these gentlemen are in nowise responsible for any errors that may occur in our gazetteer; it being impossible in a work like the present in which the names of each country are scattered through the entire volume), to avail ourselves of the benefit which might result from their revision.
ARABIA AND EGYPT.
GEORGE R. GLIDDON, Esq.,
Dr. A. BOURNONVILLE,
M. Felix DROUIN,
Mary College, Va.
J. C. OEHLSCHLÄGER,
G. A. PERDICARIS, Esq.,
C. S. BUXTON, Esq.,
L. S. DE BIBORY.
G. C. L. ABATE MINICHINI,
POLAND AND RUSSIA.
POLYNESIA, AND THE ISL
ANDS IN THE EASTERN
JOHN C. DELPRAT, Esq.
John C. ZIMMERMAN, Esq.,
A. B. ENGSTRÖM, Esq.,
Josiah Harlan, Esq.,
HORATIO HALE, Esq.,
of the United States Navy. Chevalier J. C. DE FIGANIÈRE E Morão,
Minister Resident of Portugal.
Dr. WILLIAM COLESBERRY,
Felix Merino, Esq.,
WILLIAM B. Hodgson, Esq.,
man or oriental interpreter at Constantinople.
For the pronunciation of names of Great Britain and of the various colonies of the British empire, as well as of the anglicized forms of well-known foreign names, and for other important information of a more general character, we cannot forbear to express our great obligations to
William A. DOBBEN, ESQ.,
Formerly an officer in the British service. The Rev. WILLIAM P. Hinds.
William PETER, E:2.,
Her Britannic Majesty's consu! for the State of Pennsylvania. We should do injustice to our feelings, did we not express oui warmest thanks to John K. TOWNSEND, Esq., for his valuable information respecting the names of Oregon and of the Indian tribes west of the Mississippi, and other subjects noticed in the Appendix.