[Tagging] Mapping language borders, tagging offical languages?

Joseph Eisenberg joseph.eisenberg at gmail.com
Sun Sep 16 11:21:55 UTC 2018

On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 7:26 PM Christoph Hormann <osm at imagico.de> wrote:

> > would it be a problem to also search for boundaries of
> > aboriginal_lands in addition to 8 admin boundary levels?
> I am not really familiar with the legal status of aboriginal lands in
> various parts of the world and how use of the names differs betweeen
> the inside and the outside.  I have a hard time imagining an aboriginal
> land with a distinct and homogeneous language use that is not also an
> administrative unit.

Native America and Alaskan Native reservations in the USA have some
administrative functions, in some cases superseeding the admin_level 4
"State", but in other cases functioning as a lower admin level. This comes
from their history as "foreign nations" whose lands were incorporated into
the USA (and Canada) based on treaties (and war).

So they are generally tagged with boundary=aboriginal_lands. Some mappers
dislike the word "aboriginal" or dislike having a specific tag, and instead
use the boundary=protected_area tag with a subtag specifiying a cultural /
social protected group.

Some American Indian nations no longer use their language, but others are
very vibrant, eg on the huge Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona and New
Mexico, the majority speak the Navajo language (169,000 native speakers)
and it's used for local place names. The boundary cuts across two states
and several counties. Many aboriginal_lands areas in Brazil have strong use
of the local language, and some of the Aboriginal areas in Australia and
Canada as well.

*Would it be feasible for database users to query boundary=aboriginal_lands
along with the admin boundaries*? Is there a technical limitation?
For example, could the Openstreetmap Carto style handle this?

> > *language:default=de* would be used on the admin_level=2 boundary for
> > Germany
> > *language:default=fr;nl *could be used on the administrative boundary
> > for Brussels
> I am not sure what exactly this tag is supposed to mean.  Is it just the
> format string i suggested indicating the locally preferred form of name
> display minus the actual form, i.e. reduced to a list of component
> names or is it something different?

It's nearly the same as your example of* language_format=$de *for Germany;
I've just replaced _format with :default to hopefully make it more
understandable for mappers

And I removed the '$' symbol, because I have not yet understood why it
would be beneficial

Yes, it should indicate the locally preferred form of name display, which
should, in theory, be equivalent to the actual use on the ground.
Bilingual names need to be supported for places such as Brussels, Morocco

how is the data user supposed to interpret this tag?  ... [Is it]
> supposed to be interpreted in combination with the plain, possibly
> compund name tag or with the individual language name tags.[?]

It should be interpreted with the individual language name tags.
If the default language is zh;zh_pinyin (Chinese and romanized Chinese),
there should be a name:zh and name:zh_pinyin tag on each feature within the
boundary, in theory, and these two name tags should be combined in an
international map rendering.

In theory, this should look similar to what we currently get with the
name=* tag

I am willing to propose that the name=* tag should be listed as "optional"
in the wiki, and proposing that the JOSM and ID editor folks change the
validators and presets.
But I'm reluctant to expand the scope of this proposal, it's already a big

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