Names in multiple languages


I’m working on mapping and translating all I can in my country (Libya), but I have some questions before I go big.

That’s what I am doing right now:

  1. in the “name=*” tag, I type the Name of way/node/place/etc in Arabic.
  2. in the “name:en=*” tag, I type the English name of the way/node/place/etc.

But I noticed that some older mappers include the “name:ar=*” tag and repeat the Arabic name again. Is that the correct way to use the name tag or it’s just an old habit or something?

*- Anas.

In cases where multiple names are tagged, I tend to repeat the name= in the local name:xy=. It’s not absolutely necessary but it makes it easier to display the/a local language name if is not clear which one that is. In any case it is not wrong to repeat.

name:xx is a refinement for the general name-tag. Some applications might not evaluate name:xx and only use the old name-tag. Therefor - as TZorn already stated - a name-tag in the local language should be present.

name on its own is also the most preferred name; the one that should be visible on signs. In some cases, it may be appropriate for it to contain multiple language versions. It appears that in some of the Gulf states, a lot of businesses are named in English, in which case it should be the English name.

name:en tends to serve two purposes, one is the general name:XX usage, the other is as transliteration out of a non-Latin alphabet. There is, however, an argument that this should only be used, in this way, when a machine transliteration is not possible. Arguably, a machine transliteration of Arabic is only possible if all the vowel marks are present.

The more general usage is where the place is famous enough for there to be widely known, and verifiable, names in other languages. An example I use is Tian An Men Square in Beijing, which is actually a mixture of transliteration and translation. In some languages, the Tian An Men is also translated (it means something like gate of heavenly peace). A pure transliteration (based on Mandarin) would be Tian An Men Guang Chang.

Some people insist on the name actually appearing, in the language, on signs at the place, but my view is that being generally accepted as the name in the language is sufficient. However, names should not be translated just because you can.

I think, to some extent, the rule about not using names that could have been mechanically transliterated is flawed, as the Latin alphabet does not have uniform phonetics across all its users, and English should not really be treated as a privileged language in OSM (except for tags and keyword values that are meaningful outside one specific country).

thanks everyone for answering.

here’s an example of what I mean:

name=“شارع أم الزبد”
name:ar=“شارع أم الزبد”
name:en=“Om Azzoūbd Street”

I’m not translating name like you meant, I just transliteration them to latin.
expect in some cases like “الطريق الدائري الثالث” which means “Third Ring Road” should be translated instead of transliterated!

am I understanding it right?

As not mentioned here before:



in the OSM wiki maybe for more hints.

I haven’t checked Stephan’s articles yet, and I can’t remember all the Arabic character glyphs, but I think you’ve actually used a mix of translation and transliteration. There is no word in your Arabic that begins with “س”, so I don’t think the Arabic contains the English word street.

My personal view would be, if it is internationally well known, use the accepted Romanisation, but if it is not, don’t try to translate “شارع”, or change the word order. Note that, whilst street, avenue, road, etc., have certain connotation in English, they are not consistently used, and a lot of English speakers don’t know them.

The word street in Arabic is “شارع”, begins with ش (sheen) not س (seen).

Thanks Stephan! I’ll check them.

It’s not the English word “street”. It may ore may not be an exact translation of it, but if this is just some ordinary residential street, that contains a hotel, or something like that, I would transliterate it as “Shalr’ Om Azzoūbd”. (It’s a long time since I learned the Arabic alphabet, and I may have mis-transliterated.) If it is of no real interest to tourists, I wouldn’t even transliterate it.

If it is famous use what would be used in English language maps and books, although taking names from those would probably be a copyright breach. If it is of no interest to foreigners, don’t have name:en at all.

If it really said “street”, I think I would expect to see “ستريِت”.