Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

 
 
Discussion of S. J. Whitmee's
'A Revised Nomenclature...' (S296: 1879)

 
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Whitmee's paper was presented at the 7 January 1879 meeting of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain & Ireland; Wallace's comments were later printed in Volume 8 of their Journal series. Original pagination indicated within brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/S296.htm


     [[p. 367]] Mr. A. R. Wallace was sorry the paper had not been read some months earlier, as it might have somewhat affected the nomenclature he had adopted in a work on the geography of Australasia now passing through the press. He thought Mr. Whitmee's proposed alterations far too large and radical to have much chance of being adopted. Names already in use, and with a definite meaning, should not be changed without very weighty reasons. He thought "Melanesian" a good word, and generally understood. He, like Mr. Keane, objected entirely to the term Malayo-Polynesian as being wrong and misleading from a physical point of view. It implied that the Malays and the brown Polynesians were close allies; whereas they were really very remote allies, and the Malays were certainly much more nearly related to the natives of Burmah or even of China. To use the word Malay at all in connection with the Polynesians was misleading, as it implied a theory which was almost certainly wrong. There would perhaps be no harm in using the term Indo-Pacific, as suggested by Mr. Keane for all the insular races, but otherwise no general term was needed. He thought that the general principle of priority in nomenclature should apply in anthropology as in natural history; and therefore, if any new term was applied to the Polynesians, Mr. Rankin's word "Mahori" should have the preference. It is euphonious, it implies no theory, and on Mr. Whitmee's own admission it was applicable, as meaning "indigenous" among the Polynesians themselves. As regards the black woolly-hair races, Papuan was certainly a good term, because it meant frizzly-haired, but it had come to be somewhat restricted to the natives of New Guinea itself, and its immediately surrounding islands. If used as a general term, it might be modified into Papuanese, which might include all the tribes or races from Flores on the west to Fiji on the east, the old term Melanesian being restricted to the frizzly-haired natives of the Pacific, east of New Guinea. Micronesia also was a term generally understood, and very useful as defining the small islands to the north of New Guinea, and east of the Philippines. It was a useful [[p. 368]] geographical term, and implied no theory as to the people inhabiting the islands, who were more or less of mixed races. He thought Papuanese (or Melanesian) if adopted as a general term for the Eastern frizzly-haired people as contrasted with the African or Western, should include the Negritos as a matter of convenience, and because Dr. Beccari had stated that he had seen some people from the interior of New Guinea, who very closely resembled them. If it should turn out that there were intermediate tribes between Papuans and Negritos, notwithstanding their considerable cranial differences, we should find the convenience of having one term to include the whole, just as the general term Negro includes the whole of the woolly-haired races of Africa, among whom somewhat analogous differences occur.


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