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Glossary of Geographical and Topographical Terms

Nature volume 71, page 271 (19 January 1905) | Download Citation

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Abstract

THIS work, which is intended as a supplementary volume to Stanford's “Compendium of Geography and Travel,” is evidently the outcome of a vast amount of industrious research on the part of the author. The amount of labour involved in the collection of some 10,000 geographical terms derived from the most diverse languages all over the world can readily be imagined, and it can only excite our admiration that so much should have been successfully accomplished by a single individual. The book will be a decided boon to readers of works of geography and travel, who, in the absence of deep linguistic attainments, must constantly be puzzled by the terms employed in the place-names of foreign countries. It will also be valuable to the more scientific geographer as supplying a useful basis for the complete dictionary of geographical terms, which has long been felt to be a desideratum. Mr. Knox's book, useful as it is, can hardly be said to supply this need, being concerned rather with the general and popular, than with the scientific and technical usage of geographical terms. It was undertaken in the first instance, as the author explains, with a view to elucidate the terms in use in extra-European countries, and this object it certainly fulfils with success. European geographical terms, which naturally include the majority of those with which the scientific geographer is concerned, are less fully dealt with, and we not only miss many such technical terms as “Karst,” “Kar,” “Horst,” “Schrund,” “Aven” (to take a few only at random), but we find little attempt made at discrimination between the terms in use for closely allied features, or at the definition of nice shades of meaning, such, e.g., as are involved in the words “dale” and “dell,” both of which are explained merely as a “valley.” Many English local terms are missing, and the definition of others is not always quite satisfactory. On the other hand various Spanish topographical terms are carefully explained, and the recent definitions by the International Commission for the Study of the Sea of the main features of suboceanic relief are correctly given.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/071271b0

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