[Tagging] Draft Proposal: Default Langauge Format

Christoph Hormann osm at imagico.de
Wed Sep 26 15:53:54 UTC 2018

On Wednesday 26 September 2018, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> Hi,
> On 26.09.2018 16:14, Christoph Hormann wrote:
> > Also in Germany we have features with no German name (most notably
> > probably in regions with significant minority languages but also
> > for example some English shop names, Italian restaurant names etc.)
> You are not *really* advocating that when passign an Italian
> restaurant called "O sole mio" I am expected to tag this with name:it
> and not give it a proper name tag, are you? Because then I'll
> promptly point you to a series of places that have a name the
> language of which is not discernible...

Yes, indicating that the name of an Italian restaurant in Germany is in 
Italian can be fairly useful - for example you might want to design an 
app that tells me (as a German or also for example to a Japanese) 
what "O sole mio" actually means - and to do that you have to know it 
is Italian.  Or you might want to create a map with transliterated 
names in some non-Latin script that has different transliteration rules 
for different European languages.  Also you might want to know that the 
name of a Korean Restaurant in Germany is actually in Korean and not in 
Japanese or Chinese (yes, pretty rare scenario for sure but that's not 
the point).

Note nothing terribly bad would happen for most applications if someone 
would incorrectly tag an Italian restaurant name as a German name of 

Names in a non-discernible language have so far not been discussed.  I 
would need to see some examples for this to form an opinion on the 

> > The whole point of a concept like the one proposed here is to have
> > a unified system that transparently covers all cases
> Yes. The unified system goes as follows:
> "If the default language of the smallest admin boundary enclosing
> your feature is xx, treat any name tag you encounter as if it was a
> name:xx tag."

That would change the meaning of the name tag which is currently "the 
locally used name or names in some combination" into something 
different.  This seems very unlikely to happen for a tag with such 
widespread use.  What you seem to be saying is that this already 
happens to be the meaning of the name tag in Germany for >90 percent of 
the names so you don't want the inconvenience of changing it for either 
the few percent where it is not or to ensure a common tagging system 
with the rest of the world where this is often much more widely not the 

I see your point but as said this would defeat the whole purpose of the 
idea and would further reduce the chances of it getting widely 
implemented.  Because data users generally satisfied with 90 percent 
solutions would just ignore it and since this is the vast majority of 
data users nothing would happen effectively.  The idea behind the 
proposed concept is to create a real solution for the naming problem in 
OSM.  It would require everyone to adjust to it but it would also mean 
everyone in the end has a 100 percent solution.

I don't have the illusion that it is very likely that this will happen - 
as already said the obstacles are high and >60 million name tags in OSM 
create an enormeous amount of inertia.  But this does not diminish the 
idea behind it and it does not change the fact that this (at least so 
far - i would be glad to learn about other ideas i failed to see) is 
the only type of approach that solves all known name representation 
problems in OSM.

Christoph Hormann

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