[Tagging] Mapping language borders, tagging offical languages?

Joseph Eisenberg joseph.eisenberg at gmail.com
Fri Sep 14 13:10:28 UTC 2018

Good points everyone!

Thank you for the link, I'm sorry that I missed the April discussion (It's
difficult to search these lists). But I’m glad to see that this is not a
novel idea. It looks like some of the same issues came up, and tagging
admin boundaries was the best solution, though places could also be tagged
when necessary.

My wife is a linguist, so I asked for advice about the best terminology.
Apparently this is not decided in the field. The language that children
acquire from their parents at home is often called a “first language” - but
kids can acquire 2 or even 3 “first” languages at once. The local language
for a place may be specified as an “endogenous” or “indigenous” language
(eg Irish Gaelic in Ireland). A lingua franca is also called a “language of
wider communication”, eg Mandarin in China, Indonesian in Indinesia,
English in India. Most of these terms seem too long for OSM keys, however.

"Official" is a good key or value which is verifiable at least.

I liked the suggestion from the previous discussion suggestion of
for each official language" *rather than language=xx;yy;zz. I've heard that
semicolon dividers are sub-optimal.

I would amend this to "language:xx=official"; this would allow several
languages to be clearly defined as official languages.

Then the question is what to do with the USA and other places that have
defacto languages of wider communication, but no official law on the books.
Could these be considered "official" in the sense that they street signs
and laws and regulations are all in this language, and the government
operates in this language?

Would "language:en=yes" be enough for the mainland USA? Or
"language:en=main"; "langauge:en=majority"?

I still would like a way to specify that a language is the native langauge
of that particular places. I believe many Indonesians would appreciate a
way to specify that their local language is the main means of communication
in their village or district, even if Indonesian is the official language,
for example.

Is there a preferred British English terminology for this?
language:xx=local; language:xx=native; language:xx=indigenous?

Thanks for your help. I will write up a formal proposal as soon as we work
out these details.

On Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 3:48 PM Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> On 14.09.2018 04:43, Joseph Eisenberg wrote:
> > It would be useful to tag the primary language of wider communication in
> > a place, because this information is already implicit in the names of
> > places but hard to access.
> See also a longer thread on this list from April:
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/tagging/2018-April/035855.html
> > The most complicated issue would be areas where local languages do not
> > relate to existing boundaries.
> Yes, and I would like to avoid introducing tons of new hardly-verifiable
> boundary relations for that. OSM suffers from being unable to define
> fuzzy boundaries and they would be necessary here.
> Hence
> > 2) Tag each inhabited place with a language.
> seems a more sensible idea to me.
> I would like to caution against westerners "helpfully" defining the
> "primary" language for any place other than where they live though, we
> have too much accidental cultural imperialism already. Let people all
> over the world be agents of their own map, and define what *they* think
> the locally used languages are, rather than "help" them understand their
> own culture.
> As you rightly say,
> > It is certainly possible for a local mapper to verify the majority
> > language spoken in their own community and neighboring settlements
> where "local mapper" is the important term. (Also, let us not
> accidentally roll out the concept of *one* "primary" language, which
> will only cause the same kinds of conflict as the "one primary name" we
> already have - many languages could share the first rank of importance.)
> > However, it would be more work to add tags to each
> > place=hamlet/village/town/neighborhood than to tag a single boundary
> line.
> I'd go for a mixed approach - tag the (largest useful) administrative
> boundary first, and then allow lower level admin boundaries and finally,
> place nodes, to override the default. Requires a little more brains to
> evaluate but we can really do without another world-wide mass edit where
> someone adds an obvious "primary language" tag to every settlement.
> Bye
> Frederik
> --
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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On Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 5:55 PM Martin Koppenhoefer <dieterdreist at gmail.com>

> sent from a phone
> On 14. Sep 2018, at 10:18, Colin Smale <colin.smale at xs4all.nl> wrote:
> On 2018-09-14 08:47, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> I'd go for a mixed approach - tag the (largest useful) administrative
> boundary first, and then allow lower level admin boundaries and finally,
> place nodes, to override the default.
> Sounds good!
> yes, I believe this is also where we arrived last time.
> A harder one seems the actual tagging, as multivalues are contested, and
> several “primary” languages for the same place are certainly a key
> requirement.
> It even achieves the fuzziness at a small scale by allowing place _nodes_
> to override areas, naturally this introduces uncertainty because the
> extent of nodes is not precisely defined, so it might reduce the
> willingness to engage in an edit war (all parties can read the same data
> according to their liking).
> cheers,
> Martin
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