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hard sound of g; kh is the combination most frequently used to represent the sound of ch; and th usually stands for the sound which it has in thin, sometimes for that which it has in then.
In the spelling of geographical names belonging to languages which do not use the Roman alphabet (as also of those which were first put in writing by Europeans) numerous variations are found from different causes, and it will throw some light on the pronunciation to note what the principal causes of these variations are.
1. Very often the variation is due to the irregularity in the use of our own alphabet, which leads one person to represent the same sound phonetically in one way, another in another. From this cause s and z are frequently interchanged, as in Kasan, Kazan; so also are oo, ou, and u, where the sound of u in bull or in rule is intended, as in Moorzook, Mourzouk, Murzuk, 4c; and so also are i and y, as in Ustyansk, Ustiansk; Krasnoyarsk, Krasnoiarsk. Hence likewise those names which are spelled with a to represent the sound of u in but, are also frequently found spelled with u, as in Panjab, Punjab.
2. Sometimes the variation is due to the obscurity of the sounds themselves, as where a vowel sound is so short that its exact quality can hardly be determined, as in Bedouin, Bedawin; or where a short vowel sound seems to one ear to make a separate syllable, while to another ear no such syllable seems to be heard, as in Bassora, Basra; Wargela, Wargla.
3. In other cases the variation is due to the adoption in English of a continental mode of spelling, as where dj is adopted from the French for j, as in Djebel for Jebel, or tch from the same language for ch, as in Nertchinsk for Nerchinsk, Kamtchatka (the common spelling) for Kamchatka, or j from the practice of most continental nations for y, as in Jakutsk for Yakutsk.
When the variation in spelling is due to any of these causes, a comparison of the different forms of the name will often serve as a good indication of the correct pronunciation, where any one of them might leave it doubtful; for the correct pronunciation must be more or less consistent with all the different forms. Thus when Bassora is also found spelled Basra it is clear that the correct pronunciation cannot be Basso'ra, and when Bedouin is found spelled also Bedawin, Bedaween, 4c., it shows that the accents lie on the first and third syllables, and that the i in Bedouin is pronounced as e in me.
4. Other variations are due to the fact that the Rounds to be represented have no signs for them in the Roman alphabet or any of its commonly used digraphs, so that different signs are adopted to represent them approximately in accordance with the conceptions of different persons. One of the chief instances of this sort is a sound existing in Arabic and Hindu resembling the Northumbrian burr. Usually this sound is represented by gh, but in the case of many Arabic names in North Africa it is often represented by rh or r. Thus Ghadames is often spelled Rhadames, the tribe of the Songhay often Sonrhay.
5. In other cases the variation is accounted for by differences of dialect, or different pronunciations of the same dialect in different parts of the country or region in which a particular language is spoken. In this way arise many of the varieties of spelling in Chinese, Indian, and Arabic names. In the last one of the most notable dialectical peculiarities of pronunciation is in the case of the Arab character usually sounded as j, but in some parts, as in Egypt, as g in yet. For this reason the Arabic Jebel (mountain) is usually spelled in Egyptian names Gebel, in which g is intended to have its hard and not its soft sound.
6. Another cause of variation is the fact that the strict rule of phonetic spelling is sometimes departed from, and the English form of a name is partly accommodated to the spelling of the language to which it belongs, the same letter in that language being always represented by the same in English, even though the pronunciation may vary in the original language. This is frequent in Russian names, in which the sounds of v and f, those of ■a and o, 4c, are often represented by the same letter,
and in which the Russian character representing the sound of a in fate or e in met sometimes stands for the same sound preceded by that of the consonant y. In this way are explained such variations as Kief, Kiev; Semipolatinsk, Semipalatinsk; Semiryechensk, Semirechensk.
7. Lastly, the foreign spelling of a name is sometimes adopted for native names in regions out of Europe belonging politically to European powers. Thus Sourabaya may sometimes be seen spelled in the Dutch fashion, Soerabaja. In Spanish and Portuguese America this is done almost uniformly.
In Chinese the digraph ao represents the sound of a in far gliding into that of o, the whole sound closely resembling that of ow in nmc; ei represents the sound of a in fate gliding into a very short e-sound (as in me); in ia, ie, iu the sounds of a, e, u are preceded by a very short i-sound, a sound almost identical with that of the consonant y; oo (for which u is often used) usually represents the sound of u in bull or in rule, but sometimes it represents a long o gliding into a very short sound like that of u in bull. When o precedes a or ei it is sounded very short so as to be almost equivalent to the consonant w; hence we have such spellings as Whangho (or Hwangho) and Kweichoo or Queichoo, as well as Hoangho and Koeichoo. The initial ng is a nasal, as in the word ting (not as in finger), and this initial sound is also met with in names belonging to the other monosyllabic languages of Eastern Asia, as well as in some African and New Zealand names.
In Indian, Arabic, and some other names aspirated consonants occur, and are represented in spelling by an h following the consonant, as in Bhagalpur. The proper sound of this combination is accurately represented by the letters composing it, but in the English pronunciation of such names this peculiarity is commonly disregarded.
In African words the consonant m used as a prefix has a shortened sound of um, and in the South African colonies this prefix is so spelled, as in Umtata, Umzila, 4c. By travellers in equatorial Africa, however, the simple m is always used, as in Mpwapwa. Except at the end of a word y is always the consonant. Lake Nyassa, for example, is to be pronounced as two syllables, Nyas'sa, not in three as Ni-as'sa.
For the spelling of Maori names in New Zealand the Roman alphabet was introduced by the English missionaries, but only fourteen characters are required, namely, a, e, h, i, k, m, n, o, p, r, t, u, w, and the nasal ng. The vowels have the continental sounds, and are always sounded separately, never coalescing into a proper diphthong.
In the following list showing the pronunciation of geographical names the only diacritic marks which are used are the acute, grave, and circumflex accents (' v "), the modification mark (" ), the cedilla (>), and the tilde (~); and it will be understood that, where the respetling of a name indicates the pronunciation of a diacritically marked letter not so marked in the name as given in the list, that name is spelled with a letter so marked iu the language of the country to which it belongs. Thus, when it is stated that the Swedish name Tornea is pronounced tor'na-o, it may be inferred, in accordance with the rules just given, that in Swedish that name is spelled Tornea. In respelling names to indicate pronunciation the consonants, 6, d, f, h,j, I; I, m, v,p, r, t, r, w, and -, and the digraphs ng, nk, and sh always have their usual English sounds, and & always has the hissing sound as in sea. The key-line gi ves the explanation of the other signs.
Note.—In consulting this List it should be kept in mind that attention to the preceding notes indicating the variations that may be looked for in the spelling of foreign names will often be of assistance to those doing so in finding the name they are in search of, since names not found under one spelling may be found under some other equivalent spelling. Thus many names not found spelled with c, ch, z, y, &c, may be found under the spellings k, kh, s, j, 4c. respectively; Spanish naijies in x may be found spelled with j, Dutch name3 in y may be found in ij, German, Danish, and other names in ae or oe may be found in a (sometimes e) or (i; and so forth.