[Talk-us] Key:man_made... Outdated language?

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Sat Mar 11 12:23:39 UTC 2017

Joshua Houston wrote:
> It occurred to me that "man_made" is an outdated term that should be 
> phased out from OpenStreetMap language.

FWIW, the lingua franca of OSM tagging is British English: so, colour rather
than color, and so on.

British English does of course have different cultural assumptions to
American English. As an example in the opposite direction, I remain
genuinely astonished that there is a US movement called "GeoLadies". Here in
Britain, if you described any woman under 80 as a "lady", you would probably
be expecting a slap; it's generally a patronising and slightly pejorative
word with connotations of passivity and indolence, and outside of those
parts of London influenced by the US, I don't see that it's been reclaimed.

That isn't to say that GeoLadies is objectively wrong: it isn't wrong in the
slightest. Just that, inevitably, some cultural references fall differently
in different parts of the world.

man_made is possibly not too different. I can see how it might sound jarring
to US ears but it's not something at which anyone would bat an eyelid in
Britain. (And of course, going to the country where OSM has historically
been strongest, "man" is a neutral pronoun in German.) Nothing is going to
be entirely consistent across all the cultures in which OSM is used.

Of course, there is a great irony in that this thread has been populated by
people called Joshua, Joel, Ian, Brian, Harald, Mike, Frederik, Blake,
Clifford, Kevin, and Richard, so maybe we should shut the heck up and let
some women have their say.


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