[Tagging] Mapping language borders, tagging offical languages?

Christoph Hormann osm at imagico.de
Sat Sep 15 14:12:35 UTC 2018

On Friday 14 September 2018, Joseph Eisenberg wrote:
> Christoph (@Imagico) has suggested tagging the official language
> information on administrative boundary relations:
> http://blog.imagico.de/you-name-it-on-representing-geographic-diversi

A few remarks here regarding this:

* the choice of suggesting tagging the language information on either 
the administrative boundary relations or the individual features but 
not on any other feature with a meaning beyond the feature itself was 
not arbitrary.  Limiting this to a well defined data basis and simple 
rules (here:  individual feature tag and administrative unit as 
fallback, priority through admin_level) is a necessary prerequisite for 
any chance of practical use.  And if you look at what systematics are 
used for the name tags at the moment the vast majority of choices 
happens on administrative units with admin_level 2-4.

* the choice of tagging the locally preferred form of showing the names 
and not any culture specific classification into things 
like "official", "primary", "indigenous", "main" or "majority" was also 
deliberate because this seems to be the approach that least imposes a 
specific cultural understanding of languages onto people.

* keep in mind the very idea behind this proposal is that data users 
have the free choice to either use the language format information in 
the data as is or replace or modify it with any other information.  So 
any discussion along the lines of "i want to base the language format 
on some non-verifiably spatial division" is unnecessary because you 
obviously can always do that, you just can't have and maintain such 
data inside of the OSM database.

* the choice of syntax for the language string is something that can be 
discussed obviously.  You can essentially use any characters that are 
unlikely to occur in an actual format as structuring elements.  The 
dollar sign is a common symbol prefix here.

* the core of my proposal is not using the plain "name" tag any more for 
anything other than legacy fallback if other data is missing.  Any 
proposal to separately tag the language of the name tag (several 
initiatives in that direction have been made in the past) is a very 
different idea.

Christoph Hormann

More information about the Tagging mailing list