[OSM-talk] [Tagging] Tagging the local language

Martin Constantino–Bodin martin.bodin at ens-lyon.org
Tue Jan 7 11:53:22 UTC 2020

(By the way, I really appreciate the arguments that are given in this 
thread: we’re doing good work here! ☺)

So, it seems that we can’t really make these changes to the OSM database 
because there are technical issues in the OSM renderrers to be solved 
first. In particular, it is currently very difficult to know what is the 
local language(s) to be used in a given area in a map, and we thus 
heavily rely on the “name” tag to display names on the map.

 From what you said, you seem very fine with the suggestion to remove 
the “name” tag in regions with no main local language, as soon as there 
is some way to infer the local languages. Please tell me if I’ve 
misunderstand you on this part ☺

If so, we are “only” left with the issue of agreeing with a way to map 
this information, and update the main renderrers. (Both are huge tasks, 
I’m fully aware of that 😅​)

The proposal that Joseph Eisenberg linked ( 
) is very interesting. From what I saw, it seems that it was rejected 
for two reasons: first because linguistic regions are fuzzy and thus 
hard to map, and second because it wasn’t very clear what to do if there 
are more than one language (I mean, it does states that we can separate 
language codes by semicolons, just that some people in the votes seem 
not to know what to render from it if too many languages are listed). It 
seems to me that these are actually very close to the issues that we 
discussed in this thread: we are in a good direction ☺

Mario Frasca noted that the areas that we are discussing (Antarctica, 
Seas, etc.) are actually all regions, not POIs! I completely missed that 
before. So we could definitely choose to put multiple labels, and we can 
even choose to place them next to the corresponding linguistic area. 
This is a cool idea ☺

> one reason for mentioning Morocco: it shows how three names is 
> perceived as too many.  the impact on South America could be to name 
> it in Spanish and Portuguese (two languages), and by this we would 
> cover more than 99% of the people living there.  North America would 
> need Spanish, English and French, so maybe that would be one language 
> too many.

Maybe we can sometimes factorise? Like “América del Sur / do Sul” for 
South America. (Technically, France is partly in South America too, but 
I guess that it is completely fine to forget about it in the same way 
that we can forget about Pomerode when naming the continent because, as 
you said, Spanish and Portuguese covers 99 % of the population.)

> (interesting page, that about "Imperialisme linguistique".  the Dutch 
> version of it, very short, mentions Morocco for the other reason I 
> mentioned it myself: the country has experienced French and Arabic 
> cultural imperialism, and is now trying to implement some respect for 
> the majority of their (Amazigh) people.  taken to this context, this 
> would be the OSM-people who do not read nor write to this list.  mind 
> you, the list is called 'talk', not 'talk:en'.)
Indeed, that’s a very good point. And I guess that most OSM mappers are 
actually not following this list. I’m not sure what we can do about that 
here :-\
> Interlingua/Lingua Franca would be a nice compromise, at least for 
> South America and the seas next to Spain, France, and Italy, where 
> more than three languages are recognized and even more spoken, but all 
> are neo-latin.  I don't know whether anything like this could apply to 
> the Baltic, or to other seas.

The advantage of Interlingua is that it has been designed to be 
understandable without having to learn the language by a large part of 
the European community. It indeed may be a good choice for an 
international map (in the places where there is no obvious local 
language). However, it feels like this should be a choice left to the 
renderrer, not the OSM database. That’s why I would be in favor of any 
additional tag as you suggested above.

About the Baltic Sea, maybe the Interslavic language and its children 
(Slovianto, Neoslavonic) would be possible candidates? It will be 
difficult to choose anyway, as the Finnish language has very different 
origin than the other languages spoken in the region. That’s in general 
why I don’t think that there should be only one language… but as people 
considers that more than two languages is too much on the map, some 
choice will have to be made.

> anyhow, leaving implementations aside, I think that a bit more 
> language-culture agnosticism would not harm OSM. 

I fully agree ☺ And I think that this would be a great value for the OSM 
community over the world. 😊​


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