[Tagging] Alternative names in local language

Simone Saviolo simone.saviolo at gmail.com
Tue May 22 15:45:43 BST 2012

Hi everyone.

Recently, I've been in Nice. Nice, as many of you may know, has been
for centuries under the control of Savoy, whose official language was
Italian; then it was ceded to France, that changed all the toponyms to
their French equivalent. Nonetheless, the whole area also clinged to
its local identity, to the point that the local language is promoted
even in the present days. There are newspapers, touristic information
signs and even street name signs printed in Nissart (which is
classified as a dialect of the Occitan language).

In particular, pretty much every street or place in the Vieux Ville
has two names, the French one (which, I assume, is the official one)
and the Nissart one. I am not sure how to tag the Nissart names, as
none of the available options seems to fit:
- loc_name: this is not really a local name. In my understanding, a
local name would be something like "Stadium Street" for what is
officially called "Avenue John Whatshisname": a sort of nickname, that
all the locals know about;
- alt_name: better, but not good. Actually this might be the best
candidate, but I can't get myself to really like it;
- name:oci-ni (or the correct language code): I would like this one,
because the names would be tagged for what their are - the Nissart
names. However, I'm more inclined to think of this tag as a place for
the translation of the name to the specified language. I think this is
the perfect way to discriminate between name=Nice, name:it=Nizza and
name:oci-ni=Nissa. But the street names I'm talking about are not
always the translation of the French name: for example, Plassa Carlou
Aubert has became Place Massena;
- old_name: this seems appropriate in that the Nissart toponyms were
once the ones people used (though I'm not sure whether there were
official Italian names under the Kingdom of Savoy), but they're not
only that: they're in another language too. Furthermore, I think that
some Nissart nostalgic is still calling the streets with the Nissart
name, so they're not really dismissed or deprecated names. I often see
in Italy signs saying "Via Tale, già Via Talaltra", which translates
to "Via Tale, once called Via Talaltra" and means that the official
name has been changed; in this case though it's not the same.

Currently, many of them have been tagged with reg_name=*. This may be
ok, but suppose that not only the Nissart names, but also the Italian
ones had been preserved: how would I specify more than one language in

Please note that this issue is not limited to Nice and its
surroundings: for example, a fountain here in Vercelli has a sign
saying "Fontana del Luca", but it is always referred to with its
Piedmontese name (I had no idea it had an Italian name until I saw the
sign). In general, most of Europe has quite some linguistic
fragmentation alongside the official national languages, and I think
similar cases would be frequent across Italy, Spain, Belgium and many
other areas.

So, what's your position on this issue? How should local-language,
non-dismissed, historic names of places be tagged?



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