Astronomical Entities Land Masses Islands Mountains Deserts Salt Water Entities Fresh Water Entities
Places were named with no global perspective, and before their full descriptions were known.
E.g. Caspian Sea (a lake), Bay of Bengal (a sea).
Places were named mainly by Europeans, with a European, not a global, perspective.
E.g. “Near East” and “Far “East” (i.e. near and far from Europe). Europe even declared itself a continent!
Places were sometimes named after the first European explorer to “discover” them. E.g. Bering Sea, Magellan Strait.
Centuries ago when many places were named, ethnicity sensitivities were not an issue. Times have changed.
In Peoplese, oceans, seas, gulfs, bays, straits, channels, lakes, etc. are correctly identified,
and in many cases local geographical names are utilized.
As for cosmological words, we’re still learning what’s out there (not “up there”)..
Definitions of Geographical
Capitalize the generic word only if it’s part of the proper name.
E.g., Lake Malawi, Ocean Atlantic, but not continent Eurasia, nation Denmark, county Cork, province Quebec.
Writing “the Atlantic ocean” is comprehensible but clumsy; whereas “the Malawi lake” is accurate only if Malawi has one lake.
Continent Eurasia, Lake Malawi, River Jordon, Mountain Range American Spine, Mount McKinley, Sea Bengal, Ocean Atlantic.
But: First Street, Tulip Avenue, Pine Lane – because the proper name is what is wanted quickly,
and in everyday conversation street / avenue / lane, etc. designations are secondary.
“the World” is defined by its context.
Place Name Preferences
Ideally geographical names should last for millenniums, while geopolitical names come and go. If more than one name defines a particular place, the ancient / historic name is preferable, unless there is a reason why not. Peoplese uses “Mesopotamia” and “Persia”, two ancient, beautifully sounding words, for the regions principally occupied by modern nations Iraq and Iran. Peoplese retains the Biblical name “Canaan”, more recently re-named Palestine. (The Bible is an important source of geographical names not because it is a religious book but because it is the only surviving ancient text of the region.) Colonial names are geopolitical names, not geographical names, and should not be retained unless the post-colonial native inhabitants so choose.
Reasons to abandon an historic place name can be many. Biblical “Great Sea” (named millenniums before people realized it was a gulf), subsequently renamed (from Latin “midland”) Mediterranean Sea, is in Peoplese “Gulf Great”. Many lakes were originally dubbed “seas”. It was a shame to replace beautifully sounding “Ceylon” with neutral sounding “Sri Lanka”. There’s nothing “central” about the region of far-southern North America currently named “Central America”.And, by the way, “north” is not “up” any more than “west” is “left”.