[OSM-dev] Multilingual Maps Overlays

"Marc Schütz" schuetzm at gmx.net
Wed Nov 3 12:43:26 GMT 2010

> >> You should differentiate between a "dialect" and a real language.
> >> While für languages there is name:XX (language code), for dialects you
> >> can use loc_name and alike.
> >
> > No, this is _not_ the purpose of loc_name. In fact,
> loc_name/name/old_name/official_name... and language tags are completely orthogonal.
> this might be true (or not). What is the "purpose" then? IMHO the
> purpose is to offer alternative fields for name searches.

The "Examples" section of http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:name describes their usage. loc_name would be the name a feature is known as by the local population, in contrast to the official and nation wide names. Unfortunately, the examples there are a bit contrived, but you get the general idea.

> > Dialects should be treated exactly like languages
> I'm not sure
> > (the distinction is artifical anyway from a linguistic point of view)
> this is not clear, and by doing a superficial internet research it
> seems to me that you are wrong, even though there are a lot of edge
> cases.

If I were to present you with two samples of speech (be it written or spoken) of which you don't know anything about (official status, where they are spoken, ...), it would be impossible to determine whether they are dialects or languages.

Of course, in practice, there is indeed a distinction, but it depends on various external factors (Is the language recognized officially? Is it used only in informal contexts? How do the speakers themselves see their language? How is it related to other languages?), and thus it is not a property of the language itself.

This is why I called it an artificial distinction.

However, in our context, this distinction still doesn't matter. We have various places each of which can have an official name, an international name, a former name, etc. Each of these names can be in one or more languages/dialects. If we were to restrict this to officially recognized languages only, we would still need another tagging scheme for the dialects. I don't see what we'd gain from doing so.

Except of course if you're suggesting that we shouldn't record dialectal names at all? I (and supposedly Stefan too) would object to that, because there are useful applications for it. For example, I'd like to record field names (Flurnamen), which usually exist only in dialectal form, and for which I would see it as incorrect to use Standard German "translations".

> > : use name:...,old_name:... together with the ISO 639-1/2 code (which,
> admittedly, don't exist for most dialects).
> they don't exist because they are not languages IMHO.

I don't think the standard is supposed to list only languages, because it already includes codes for Swiss German/Alemannic (gsw), Kölsch (ksh) and Bavarian (bar).

> > This probably works for Swiss German but in case of e.g. East Franconian
> (which doesn't have a language tag) you have to be careful to distinguish
> between Standard German as spoken in, say, Bayreuth, and East Franconian as
> spoken in Bayreuth. Thus you cannot simply use de-... for the latter, as
> it would mean the former.
> A lot of the characteristics of dialects (at least in German) derives
> from pronounciation. Usually there is no common way to write it (as
> you generally write in German (Hochdeutsch)). Do you suggest to
> transscribe pronounciation?

How you would actually transscribe the dialects/language variants is another matter.

I used this example to show that there are cases where it is difficult to come up with a correct language tag.

If "de" means Standard German, then "de-CH" means the variant of Standard German that is use in Switzerland, and thus cannot be used to refer Swiss German. Fortunately, there is a code for Swiss German to work around this problem.

But there is none for East Franconian. Now that I think of it, maybe a different workaround would be to use "gmw-x-franconia" or the like to refer to "the West Germanic language used in Franconia". But it's still ugly...

> Your example of East Franconian is about a
> dialect IMHO, not about a language.

Yes, but then there is also Bavarian, which has the same official recognition (i.e. none), and roughly the same social status, but there _is_ a code for it.

Regards, Marc

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