Bilingual names in Israel

According to the name tag wiki,

Therefore, names in Arab towns and villages should be in Arabic. The name:he can be used to capture the Hebrew name, if exists.

However, there are several name tags in Arab towns and villages that have both the Arabic and Hebrew names. It seems to be a preference of some local mappers.

I suggest we adopt the approach used by other countries, such as Belgium, and let mappers choose to use both Arabic and Hebrew in the name tag, separated by a spaced hyphen (such as, “برطعة - ברטעה”).

Latin transliteration should not be in the name tag, but in the name_int or name:en tags, as is now.

What do you think?

I would go to this schema only for places which starts edit wars (like Jerusalem), or even better do not have default name tag at all.
Having such a duplicate names looks to me very wrong from data oriented point of view and it’s more rendering issue. If somebody wants to see double names - he can render map by himself.

I agree with yrtimiD.
Most arab towns are not very well mapped in OSM. Starting to edit the street names would maybe cause edit wars. Just keep it the way it is and if you want the street name to appear in Hebrew use name:he is default for renderer.

This way you make sure all definitions are correct.

I personally don’t like the double name idea for example in Belgium as it makes people lazy. Meaning they keep it this way in applications instead of using name:nl tags.

Hello, I’ve been mapping Druze villages. And your suggestion is harder than you think, because some shops have Hebrew-only titles on their logos, while others have only Arabic titles on their logos. Currently, I put whatever I think is the “main” name in the “name” tag, and I make sure both name:he and name:ar exist. In my opinion, OSM should get rid of the pure “name” tag completely and a name tag should always have a language suffix. But I guess this is risky to do at the moment because some clients might rely on it.

It seems you have implemented the essence of the “name” tag, as I understand it: capture the name in its native language. IMO this is an important principle that should be preserved. I now see that the implementation of this approach is sometimes more complex than what I imagined.

IMO, it is not mandatory to have names in both languages, such as a Hebrew name for a shop with Arabic-only name, but you are most welcome to do so.

I might have been a bit unclear. The translation is often obvious so I do it. But when it’s unclear what the name in the other language should be I prefer not to invent one myself.

The wiki says “The name tag should be used as the primary name, in the language most common in the area.”. Perhaps we should update that?

My most generic advice for the “name” tag would be:

  1. If the title of one languages is dominant on the sign/logo, or if there’s an obvious main language for the POI name (perhaps through local knowledge), use that.
  2. If not, use the language most common in the area.

Here’s a practical example where this is used.

It’s a Druze village. The local language is Arabic but there’s heavy tourism so some shops have Hebrew names on their logos. It makes sense for the “name” tag to be Hebrew for those shops, but this contradicts the current wiki guidelines. Some shops don’t even have Arabic titles so following the current guidelines would require making names up. There are some instances of English only names (e.g. “Pure” is a shop for natural, fruit only drinks) that have no obvious meaning-preserving translations. Those should have an English “name” tag.

I think the guidelines proposed above cover all cases nicely.

Should we ever duplicate name and name:he for hebrew names? (or name and name:ar for Arabic names)?
I suppose it’s easier for clients.

Below is my understanding of the OSM approach. I’m not an authority on this…

I would not change the wording of the wiki. These are worldwide guidelines. However, the phrase “the language most common in the area” does not have a clear answer when it comes to the tourist streets of the Druze villages. In this case, the “truth on the ground” rule comes in and the name should be the primary name on the sign of the shop.

This is also the case for shops in other places where their primary name is in English, such as “Fox”, “H&M”, and “Rebar”. In these cases the “name” tag would be in English and may or may not have a name:he tag.

Yes, we should always duplicate name and name:he (or name and name:ar for Arabic names, etc.).

@zstadler, I agree with what you say. But what you say is not reflected by the Wiki. As a newbie, it wasn’t obvious to me that the “most common in the area” rule allows me to write “Fox” or “H&M”. I assume this confuses some people and may cause needless translations or transliterations. Would you mind only a minor rewrite, which keeps in line with what you just said?:

@eric22, thank you. I will mention that in the Wiki explicitly.

Edit: posted in the wrong spot. Ignore. (mods, remove this post?)


I would start with the general notes for names, including “Apart from following the above rules, you should always enter the full name as it appears on the street name signs.” and extend it to all names. Then remind that a name should appear once, and not in multiple languages. Only afterwards refer to addressing multi-language signs.

I think this also reflects the relative priority of the conventions

Hi, managed to fix account to login here… found that mass-imported Russian street name translations uses invalid character for “X” Latin one instead of Cyrillic one.
“name:ru”=“Xа Римон” unexpected char “X” (LATIN CAPITAL LETTER X, 0x0058). Means “Х” (CYRILLIC CAPITAL LETTER HA, 0x0425)?

Can someone with OSM scripting-fu mass-fix these letters?

Also some mass-translations to Russian are completely wrong. My scripting-fu is bad, I can prepare translation fixes table for someone who can mass import it.

To be honest, I think in a bilingual area, you should always have both names, even when a shop only has a sign in one language. Not everyone can read Arabic, and not everyone can read Hebrew.

The problem with the name tag is that it’s often hard or impossible to say which one the local language is. Which name do you chose in a truly bilingual place? Which name do you chose when the language spoken by most locals is not an official one?

I agree, but I would like to point out it’s not just the tourist streets. For instance:
Some neighborhoods have Hebrew names and also commonly used Arabic transliterations e.g. “יד לבנים, דליה צעירה” with no commonly used Arabic translations. Others have Arabic names and commonly used Hebrew transliterations e.g. “ואדי אל פש” with no commonly used Hebrew translations. Some have both Hebrew and Arabic names which are commonly used.

So it’s quite a mess.

My current rules of thumb for the pure “name” tag in Druze villages (some of which are pretty close to “truly bilingual” with regards to naming things):

  • If one language is really prominent on a sign/logo, use that for the name tag.

  • Otherwise, use what “feels like” the main name. e.g. the one most commonly used locally.

  • the “name” tag shouldn’t be a transliteration (unless the transliteration is obviously the main name) So For Dalia Tsera, name=“דאליה צעירה”. For Wady El Fash, name=“وادي الفش”.

If a name doesn’t exist in ar/he/en, I do an improvised translation when it seems obvious, e.g. “שווארמה סאפי” => “Safy’s Shawarma”. If no obvious, meaning preserving translation exists, (e.g. there’s a shop named “Pure”) I either leave it or transliterate. (Perhaps I should be consistent in this case, too).

Edit: slight change to the rules of thumb.