There is a difference between the name "translation" and "transliteration".

Place translation should always take precedence, e.g. (Köln vs Cologne). This mostly applies to cities/countries, but not street-level naming.

Transliterations are trickier. Should we simply transliterate everything into Latin script (many non-Latin countries teach Latin script in the first few years of school)?  If transliteration can be fully automatic, should it be stored in OSM?

The usecase is also different - should both scripts be shown on a map? Seeing city names is important to orienting oneself when reading a wiki article. Seeing both scripts is important when walking around a foreign city and comparing street names to the map, while still being able to read and pronounce them (regardless of how successfully you will be understood).

On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 5:08 PM, Yaroslav Blanter <> wrote:
Hi Markus,

it is way more complicated than that unfortunately. For example, Schwarzwald in Latvian (which uses Latin) is not Schwarzwald, but Švarcvalde, and in Turkish it is Kara Orman.

We have a bot request on Wikidata stalled for exactly this reason,


On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 8:33 PM, Markus Bärlocher <> wrote:
Hi Amir,

You are right:
We should have simple tools for for both - Wikidata and OSM - to share
the infomations together and to merge it :-)

- - - -

But I think it is not a good idea to "translate" geographical names.

*A name is a name*


"Schwarzwald" (a big area of forest in Germany)
should keep his name in each language.

Of course it is very helpful to read a name in my writing system!
I can't read Chinese.
And most Chinese can't read nor Arabic nor Latin.

In my opinion it is very wrong to separate parts of the word, and to
translate each part (eg. schwarz=black and wood=wald) and to put it
together (Blackforest).

Most "translations" in Wikipedia and OSM are like this :-(

I think we should stop such stupid work!

- - - -

What we need:
Specific charts for each *writing system*.

If you speak English (or another language with Latin letters)
all names in countries which use Latin letters are written with no changes,
and all names in countries which use another writing system (Arabic
Chinese, ...) are written in two writing systems:
1. original (so people there can /read/ it when you point on a name)
2. Latin (so you can /speak/ it and local people can understand you)

If you speak Yiddish (or another language with Hebrew letters)
all names in countries which use Hebrew letters are written with no changes,
and all names in countries which use another writing system (Arabic
Chinese, Latin, ...) are written in two writing systems:
1. original (so local people can /read/ it when you point on a name)
2. Hebrew (so you can /speak/ it and local people can understand you)

Ad 2.: this is a transformation like a "phonetic" script (broad
transcription), or something like transcription or transliteration.
(but /never/ a translation)

Best regards,

PS: Exception:
in bilingual locations we should use both languages plus a
transformation in your writing system.

> *** Before I begin: I've never been a major OpenStreetMap contributor,
> so forgive me if I misunderstand something basic about it. ***
> Lately, some work has been done on improving the integration of
> OpenStreetMap (OSM) and Wikimedia projects, in the Kartographer extension.
> In particular, I'm curious about this task:
> It's about showing place names in the wiki language. It may get resolved
> soon (yay!!)
> But it raises an important question: What happens if the place name was
> not translated into the wiki language? As a not-so-extreme example, what
> happens if a place name is only available in the OSM database in
> Chinese? Unfortunately, it will be not very useful to readers of the
> English Wikipedia.
> The desirable solution is to give Wikipedia editors who know the
> relevant languages an easy way to translate the labels.
> Reading
> , I see that there is no *easy* way to do it on the OpenStreetMap side.
> To add a translation of a place name, you need to:
> * find it on the map
> * edit it
> * type "name:LANGUAGE_CODE" in the properties list (for example
> "name:ru" for Russian)
> * write the name
> * save
> * wait for it to get published (I'm not sure how long does it take;
> maybe it's instant, but I made a test edit, and I still don't see it.)
> This is not super-efficient for several reasons:
> * Finding each place on the map may be time-consuming for practical
> considerations.
> * Sending each change manually is also time-consuming.
> * Typing the property name manually is slowish and error-prone.
> A lot of this data is already available on Wikidata. In fact,
> OpenStreetMap already has a Wikidata item property for each place. (It
> can also have a property for Wikipedia link, one for each language. It
> looks redundant to me: A link to the Wikidata item page would be enough.)
> Did anybody ever suggest importing the place names available on Wikidata
> to OSM, or to synchronize them regularly?
> --
> Amir Elisha Aharoni · אָמִיר אֱלִישָׁע אַהֲרוֹנִי
> ‪“We're living in pieces,
> I want to live in peace.” – T. Moore‬
> _______________________________________________
> Wikidata mailing list

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