Al Nabhani, Yousuf bin Harith bin Nasir
The role and standardisation of geographical names on maps : Oman as a case study.
MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Geographical namses play prominent roles in various fields in Oman. While working in the National Survey Authority in Oman, the researcher found that there are some problematic issues related to the use and management of geographical names such as lack of databases and the contradiction of geographical names caused by having more than one establishment dealing with geographical names. This study seeks to consider these and contribute to developing the use of the existing geographical names on maps in Oman. The aims are: (1) to investigate best practices for collecting, approving and managing geographical names; (2) to identify the existing policies, procedures and use of geographical names in Oman; and (3) to propose a system for collection, approval and management of geographical names in Oman.
The concepts and importance of maps, map history and their relationship with geographical names are discussed. This is in addition to highlighting the importance of geographical names and their functions and roles. The relationship between the proper names and the scale of maps was investigated. The results show that the proper names generally decrease in density in relation to the ground area covered as scale is reduced, but names increase in density on the map with reducing scale.
Methods for collecting geographical names are reviewed, followed by a discussion of the methods of recording and storing geographical names. The particular problems that face collecting geographical names in Oman were highlighted. They are the pronunciation of geographical names, the language differendes, the inaccessibility of some areas and the lack of cooperation of local residents in provision of accurate information. The transliteration of geographical names in general and in Oman specifically is investigated with the most prominent problems that face geographical names transliteration in Oman identified. The first problem is the variety of languages and dialects in Oman as a result of Oman's rich history of trade and location which encouraged immigration. Other problems are the qualifications of the geographical names team and the lack of a responsible establishment for geographical names.
The standardisation of geographical names and its advantages are discussed, highlighting Oman's case in dealing with geographical namse. From this discussion the importance of having a geographical names committee responsible for geographical names was demonstrated and some examplse of geographical names committees in a range of countries presented.
An analysis of the problem of standardisation of geographical names in Oman culminates in a proposal for a geographical names committee in Oman in order to overcome the problems identified. A committee structure is suggested, along with membership and responsibilities. This is followed by recommendations for supporting the proposed committee. For example, unifying geogrpahical names and training all the geographical names team members. Finally, someother recommendations for further studies, such as creating geographical names gazateer and studying geographical namse in the Holy Quran, are suggested.
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