[Talk-GB] Multi-lingual tagging in Wales

Ben Proctor ben at benproctor.co.uk
Sat Oct 31 11:03:47 UTC 2020

Thanks Chris (and everyone else) for your very helpful contributions.

I've tried to synthesise the discussion on this thread and would like to
propose the following for the Wales section of the Multilingual Tagging
page on the OSM Wiki.

This would be a slight change from the current entry


In Wales many, but by no means all, places and features are named
differently in Welsh and English.

*Instances where the name is different in Welsh and English*

The name tag should contain the name widely used by the local population.

This should be either the name used in English or the name used in Welsh
but not both.

If the name included in the name: tag is that used in English, name:cy can
be added to show the alternate name (cy is the two letter ISO639-1 language
code for the Welsh language).

If it is the name included in the name: tag is the name used in Welsh,
name:en can be added to show the alternate name (en is the two letter
ISO639-1 language code for the English language).


name: Welshpool
name:cy Y Trallwng

name: Biwmares
name:en Beaumaris

It should not be necessary to add both name:en and name:cy though it is not
harmful to do so.

*Instances where the name is the same in Welsh and English*

The name: tag should contain the name.

It is not, in principle, necessary to add either a name:cy or a name:en
(since there is only one name in both languages).


Multi-lingual tagging in Wales is currently patchy. Adding a name:cy tag
even though this will duplicate the information in the name: tag would help
other mappers distinguish between cases where multi-lingual tagging has not
yet been applied and cases where the name is the same in Welsh and English.

name: Caernarfon
name:cy Caernarfon


I *think* this largely synthesises the discussion so far. I'd welcome more
comments on this.

On Wed, Oct 21, 2020 at 4:40 PM Christopher Jones <rollercow at sucs.org>

> Hi Ben,
> Personally, I don’t see the point of
> name: Swansea
> name:en Swansea
> name:cy Abertawe
> It's stating the obvious that if name:cy is not the same as name: for a
> place in Wales, the name attribute is the English, and visa versa. It’s a
> little close to “tagging for the renderer” for my taste. That said it costs
> little to duplicate it in practice, so rock on if that’s what you want to
> do!
> Regarding what should be in the name tag, we have a set of flawed options…
> You initially suggested using a “widely” known by rule, this by its nature
> favours the English names. The majority of the Welsh population are primary
> English speakers, and despite a huge amount of time and money being spent
> on welsh language laws and education provision that’s not about to change
> in any of our lifetimes, even the welsh governments hugely ambitious target
> is for 1M welsh speakers by 2050, that still less than a third of the
> population.
>         • always use the name that is used in Welsh
> In Gwynedd where 65% of the population identify as able to speak welsh,
> this might make some sense, in Blaenau Gwent where its 7.8%, this makes no
> sense. (Figures from the 2011 census)
>         • use the Welsh name and English name together separated by a
> hyphen (which is the practice in some other countries)
> I’m going to refer you to
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/talk-gb/2017-August/020478.html
> where I made my argument against this (tl;dr - its ugly, confusing and
> there are much better ways of achieving the aim (ie localised renders))
>         • use the name on local signage
> I’m going to assume you mean to use the first name on the local signage
> because the vast majority of signage has both English and welsh names
> (where they both exist), indeed its been a legal requirement for them to do
> so for quite some time. The major issue with this is since the Welsh
> Language Measure of 2011 councils have a duty to ensure "that the Welsh
> language is treated no less favourably than the English language” this
> ensures that on any sign made in the last 10 years Welsh is first
> regardless of local usage.
> So we end up with the status quo….
>         • use the name that is used by the "local population" (which is
> what the wiki currently suggests)
> This too has issues, the main one being its hard to verify, it relies on
> local mappers being able to reach a consensus.
> To me, this remains the pragmatic option!
> Thanks for reading!
> And Ben, thanks for taking on the welsh render!
>> Chris - not a Welsh speaker, but ran cyOSM, the first multilingual OSM
> render many moons ago.
> > On 21 Oct 2020, at 12:10, Ben Proctor <ben at benproctor.co.uk> wrote:
> >
> > Thanks to everyone who has chipped in on this thread so far.
> >
> > I'd like to draw out what I see as the key threads of the discussion so
> far:
> > The use of :cy and :en name tags should be encouraged. It allows more
> flexibility in rendering and adds clarity. So far this hasn't been a very
> controversial part of the discussion.
> >
> > I think the wiki could be revised to emphasise this without causing too
> much concern.
> >
> >
> >
> > There isn't consensus on the use of the name: tag. I think there several
> suggestions have been floated:
> >       • always use the name that is used in Welsh
> >       • use the name that is used by the "local population" (which is
> what the wiki currently suggests)
> >       • use the Welsh name and English name together separated by a
> hyphen (which is the practice in some other countries)
> >       • use the name on local signage
> > We have had advice that OSM should maintain neutrality. I'm sure that is
> the sensible position to aim for. This tends to point us to using the name
> on local signage or the name used by the "local population".
> >
> > From my perspective identifying the name used by the local population is
> likely to be fraught in many cases and so a mapper would probably be best
> advised to refer to local signage.
> >
> > Local signage will frequently show the cy: name and the en: name.
> >
> > So I *think* this might be pointing us towards suggesting the name: tag
> should reflect local signage. This would inevitably lead to more dual
> naming in the name: tag.
> >
> >
> > What does everyone think?
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 5:08 PM Andy Townsend <ajt1047 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi Gruff, hi Ben,
> >
> > On 16/10/2020 14:08, Gruff Owen wrote:
> >>
> >> The ability to include an :en or :cy tag name field is really helpful
> for this but it's unfortunate that ultimately we have to choose a single
> name tag for each place name - giving the impression that one language has
> precedence over another.
> > Well, we really don't need to choose that "one language has precedence
> over another".  If the :cy and :en data is mapped it's available for
> everyone to use.  It's entirely possible, right now, to create a map using
> only :cy names (as Ben and Andy have pointed out,
> https://openstreetmap.cymru/ does exactly that already).  Other maps can
> choose to use :en names in one area and :cy in others (see
> https://map.atownsend.org.uk/maps/map/map.html#zoom=9&lat=51.93&lon=-4.182
> for an example of that), or hyphenate names Welsh-first or English-first,
> or use different colours for different languages, or, or...
> >
> > The whole point of OSM is that it is more than just one map.
> >
> >>
> >> With that in mind, and admittedly polemicising the debate a little. If
> we accept the premise that the native language of Wales is Welsh and that
> OSM is a community mapping project where we have an opportunity to respect
> native communities in a way that past colonial mapmakers didn't. Could we
> take this as an opportunity to prioritise authentic Welsh place names where
> that's possible?
> > OpenStreetMap's approach to disputed territories tries to be neutral -
> see
> https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/w/images/d/d8/DisputedTerritoriesInformation.pdf
> .  It favours "on the ground" current usage.  The Data Working Group gets
> _lots_ of requests along the lines of "the official language of country X
> is Y, therefore all placenames in country X should be displayed at osm.org
> in language Y".  Where the majority of people in an area speak a different
> language to the majority of people in the rest of the country, it is only
> fair to reflect that local language in the "name" tag.  OSM should not be
> making decisions about which placenames are more "authentic" than others
> via some sort of "historical authenticity test".  Imagine trying to apply
> that to Kaliningrad https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/1674442 (look
> at all the "old_name" tags there for context).  In Wales, OSM has
> occasionally had mappers making "forced language changes" both ways -
> either changing names in predominantly English-speaking areas to Welsh
> versions of the original English and English speakers changing original
> (and most common in local usage) Welsh names to English versions.
> >
> >> One other way to settle this would be to seek guidance from an external
> body. Does the Welsh Government have a position on place names that we can
> refer to? I notice that the Welsh Language Commissioner provides a
> recommended list of standardised place names for Wales which is licensed
> under OGL 3.0:
> >>
> >>
> http://www.comisiynyddygymraeg.cymru/english/commissioner/placenames/Pages/Search.aspx
> > Different OSM communities do this in different ways.  I believe that in
> Ireland name:ga is usually the "official" version, which may differ from
> local usage.  Sometimes that loses some local colour - in Dublin "Anglesea
> Road" used to be signed as "Bóthar Môn" but now in OSM it's just "Bóthar
> Anglesea".  See also https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/52241235 which
> I've heard referred to as "Dingle / An Daingean" (there's lots of politics
> both national and local associated with that).
> >
> >>
> >> All of the above is written with the big caveat that I'm new to OSM and
> not a Welsh language or place name expert in any way, I wouldn't go against
> the group decision on this and have been quite conservative with my edits
> so far because I know it's a huge topic to get into. Overall I think you
> should be congratulated for broaching the subject and trying to pin down a
> policy on it as it really does stir up a lot of strong sentiment in this
> part of the world!
> > As I'm sure Ben and Mapio Cymru would echo, thanks for making sure that
> Welsh names of places are recorded where they currently are not.  It always
> strikes me as a bit jarring to see English names jumping out in
> predominantly Welsh areas at https://map.atownsend.org.uk/ (which will
> use the default "name" tag if name:cy is missing in areas where it's trying
> to show Welsh names).
> >
> > Moving on to Ben's original mail:
> >
> > On Mon, 12 Oct 2020 at 14:06, Ben Proctor <ben at benproctor.co.uk> wrote:
> >>
> >> From a Mapio Cymru perspective we'd like to propose, for discussion,
> replacing this text with the following (reasoning follows):
> >>
> >> [starts/---]
> >> In Wales the name tag should be used for the name by which the place is
> widely known in Wales. This could be English or Welsh but not both. So
> name: Wales or name: Cymru would be acceptable but not name: Wales/Cymru.
> > Where I suspect there may be further questions is where a place is known
> in Welsh-speaking areas as one name and in English-speaking areas as
> another.  In OSM typically the "name" tag would be set according to the
> locally-used language, so "Yr Wyddfa" for
> https://www.openstreetmap.org/node/1745517169 makes sense to me.
> >
> > That gets tricky for areas that include multiple languages -
> https://www.openstreetmap.org/relation/58437 is currently "name=Cymru /
> Wales" in OSM, but I'll let people who are actually from that area comment
> on whether that's appropriate or not.
> >
> >
> >
> >>
> >> name:en should be used to give the name by which the place or feature
> is known in English.
> >> name:cy should be used to give the name by which the place or feature
> is known in Welsh
> >>
> >> Even though this will lead to apparent duplication. For example:
> >>
> >> name: Swansea
> >> name:en Swansea
> >> name:cy Abertawe
> >>
> >> This allows places and features to be named unambiguously and so rather
> than duplication is conveying useful new information.
> >> [---/ends]
> > I'd agree that that bit (duplicating names) does make sense for
> essentially the same reasons as you - so that people do know that "yes
> there is an English name" and "yes there is a Welsh name".  Otherwise if
> someone was to change the name there to "name=Swansea / Abertawe" it would
> break map.atownsend.org.uk which explicitly tries not to show compound
> names in Wales, England or Scotland.  Someone who does want to show
> compound names can of course do that using "name:cy / name:en".  For
> completeness, as you also mention, some OSM communities do use compound
> names.  The Brussels region of Belgium is another example, and hyphenated
> names there are I believe "the official names".  That sort of tagging
> hasn't traditionally been done in Wales, England, or Scotland though.
> >
> > Best Regards,
> >
> > Andy
> >
> > For completeness - I'm both a member of OSM's Data Working Group who
> tend to handle some of these language disputes and separately to that the
> developer of https://map.atownsend.org.uk/ .
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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