H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
And, as we have seen, it has steadily amalgamated French and Spanish articles with their nouns, thus achieving such barbarous forms as Duchesne, Eldorado, Deleon and Laharpe. But here its policy is fortunately inconsistent, and so a number of fine old names have escaped. Thus, it has decided in favor of Bon Secours and against Bonsecours, and in favor of De Soto, La Crosse and La Moure, and against Desoto, Lacrosse and Lamoure. Here its decisions are confused and often unintelligible. Why Laporte, Pa., and La Porte, Iowa? Why Lagrange, Ind., and La Grange, Ky.? Here it would seem to be yielding a great deal too much to local usage.
The Board proceeds to the shortening and simplification of native names by various devices. It deletes such suffixes as town, city and courthouse; it removes the apostrophe and often the genitive s from such names as St. Marys; it shortens burgh to burg and borough to boro; and it combines separate and often highly discreet words. The last habit often produces grotesque forms, e. g., Newberlin, Boxelder, Sabbathday lake, Fallentimber, Bluemountain, Westtown, Three-pines and Missionhill. It apparently cherishes a hope of eventually regularizing the spelling of Allegany. This is now Allegany for the Maryland county, the Pennsylvania township and the New York and Oregon towns, Alleghany for the mountains, the Colorado town and the Virginia town and springs, and Allegheny for the Pittsburgh borough and the Pennsylvania county, college and river. The Board inclines to Allegheny for all. Other Indian names give it constant concern. Its struggles to set up Chemquasabamticook as the name of a Maine lake in place of Chemquasabamtic and Chemquassabamticook, and Chatahospee as the name of an Alabama creek in place of Chattahospee, Hoolethlocco, Hoolethloces, Hoolethloco and Hootethlocco are worthy of its learning and authority.67
The American tendency to pronounce all the syllables of a word
Note 67. The Geographic Board is composed of representatives of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Geological Survey, the General Land Office, the Post Office, the Forest Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the Biological Survey, the Government Printing Office, the Census and Lighthouse Bureaus, the General Staff of the Army, the Hydrographic Office, the Library and War Records Office of the Navy, the Treasury and the Department of State. It was created by executive order Sept. 4, 1890, and its decisions are binding upon all federal officials. It has made, to date, more than 25,000 decisions. They are recorded in reports issued at irregular intervals and in more frequent bulletins. [back]