Default language format - Proposal improves use of bilingual names

Bonjour / Goeie moarn,

I’ve started a draft proposal that should make it possible to improve the way that bilingual names are displayed. I believe this will be particulary useful for Belgium.

There will be a new tag, “language:default=” where the value represents the ISO code for the language. This tag can be applied to administrative boundaries to specify the default language format to be shown in name labels on maps.

For example, on the administrative boundary enclosing Brussels, you could add the tag “language:default=fr;nl”. This would mean that database users and maps should show both labels for two names; “name:fr=" and "name:nl=”. The map render can then show both these names, perhaps one above the other, or left and right. If they choose, the map renderer could even randomize the order of the two names when they are repeated (for example, on a long road).

If the “name:” tag is not available, the renderer or database user could fall back on the old default “name=*” tag.

Also, perhaps there are places in Brussels that are named in another languages, such as German. In this case, the individual map feature could have the tag “language:default=de”, which shows that it has a different default name format than the usual language format used in Brussels.

The complete draft proposal is available, with further detail and examples:

I’d love suggestions for improvements, and examples where this proposal would be helpful


I followed the discussion on tagging a bit and I really wonder how important this is ? I understand that, which tries to show the names in the language of the local mappers needs the name tag. And perhaps it needs to know the language in order to use the correct character set.

But do we need this tag for any other purpose ? Flemish people typically want to see a map with names in Dutch, and French speaking people one with French names. We can already make those maps. Any official administration that wants to create a map with both Dutch and French names can also do that.

Can you give us a real use case (besides ?

I’m also not so happy with language:default. Default language for what ? It’s the default for the name tag, not ? So something like default:name:language would be better IMHO. (we have defaults in the DB, we look at the defaults for the name tag and its language characteristic).