[Tagging] Which languages are admissible for name:xx tags?

Andrew Hain andrewhainosm at hotmail.co.uk
Wed Mar 25 09:45:03 UTC 2020

Why on earth would we not (excluding exceptional copyright issues) want to have lots of different name:XX tags?


From: Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org>
Sent: 25 March 2020 09:26
To: Tag discussion, strategy and related tools <tagging at openstreetmap.org>
Subject: [Tagging] Which languages are admissible for name:xx tags?


the "name:xx" tags are something of an exception in OSM because while we
defer to "local knowledge" as the highest-ranking source normally, this
is not being done for name:xx tags. It is possible for no single citizen
of the city of Karlsruhe to know its Russian name, but still a Russian
name could exist. Who is the highest-ranking source for that?

My guess is that about 5% of name:xx tags in OSM actually represent a
unique name in its own right; all others are either copies of the name
tag ("this city does not have its own name in language XX but I want
every city to have a name:xx tag so I'll just copy the name tag"), or
transliterations (or, worst case, even literal translations).

A while ago we had a longer discussion about Esperanto names; in that
discussion, it was questioned whether Esperanto could be in the name tag
but nobody disputed that adding name:eo tags is ok, even though
Esperanto is an invented (or "constructed") language.

Yesterday someone added a few dozen Klingon names to countries in OSM. I
have reverted that because of a copyright issue, but I think we also
need to discuss which languages we want to accept for name:xx tags.

In my opinion, a name:xx tag should only be added if you can demonstrate
that people natively speaking the living language xx are actually using
this name for this entity. I think we have a very unhealthy inflation of
names in OSM that are added by "single-purpose mappers" - they come in,
stick a name:my-favourite-language tag onto everything, and go away
again. Nobody knows if these names are even correct, and nobody cares
for their maintenance. The country North Macedonia changed its name
almost one year ago, yet roughly half of its ~ 170 name tags are still
what they were before this change. Nobody cares; these names suggest a
data richness that is not backed up by an actual living community that
cares for them.

What are your opinions on which languages should be accepted in name
tags? What do you think about

* niche constructed languages (say, FredLang which has 2 words I
invented just now)
* popular constructed languages (Klingon, Elvish) - note place names in
these languages will often be algorithmically derived from the English
or local name
* "serious" constructed languages (Esperanto)
* languages that once existed but are not natively spoken any more (Roman)
* languages that are natively spoken but their speakers do not have
their own name for the entity in question (instead they use the same
name the locals use, possibly transcribed into a different alphabet)
* ...

Or if you don't have the time to think about this in detail, just answer
the question: tlhIngan Hol - Hlja' or ghobe'?


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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