Naming - Neighbourhoods in Mixed cities


So I have a question, with regards to naming of neighbourhoods. And my question is specifically about, names of predominantly Palestinian-Arab neighbourhoods in mixed or predominantly Hebrew-speaking cities. eg. many neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.

Some names are already only shown in Arabic. eg. Umm Tuba, Sur Baher, Shuaifat.

Some were only in Hebrew, but I edited them to bilingual names, eg Abu-Tur, Isawiyah, etc, and a review of my edit, led me to wonder, and bring the question here.

We know that predominantly Palestinian-Arab towns and villages are shown only in Arabic, and we also know that nowhere in the area of WB/EJ/48-IL/GS, are bilinigual display names used (until now)

(Same question could apply to other places too, eg some neighbourhoods in Haifa)

What’s the ideal solution?

Do we show names in Hebrew only, and ignore that the area is mostly non-Hebrew speakers?

Do we show only in Arabic, and ignore that the neighbourhood is in a non-Arabic or mixed city, and important for all of the city, and not just its local residents?

Or do we create a new tradition of bilingual display name for these cases?

The OSM guideline is to use the name used locally.

For neighbourhoods it means that names of predominantly Arabic-speaking neighbourhoods should be in Arabic and names of predominantly Hebrew-speaking neighbourhoods should be in Hebrew. This rule is also used for naming predominantly Arabic-speaking cities and villages in Israel.

It is useful to duplicate the “name” tag in the appropriate “name:ar” or “name:he” tag and, whenever possible, add the name in the other language.

These guidelines allows designers of different maps to choose the language/s they prefer.

Using multiple languages in a “name” tag is highly discouraged. Mapping for the renderer is also a bad practice.

By the way, here is an example of a multilingual OSM map, made by the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB, using a combination of the local “name” tag and the “name:en”/“int_name” tags:

Follow-up question - what’s the best tagging for “Christian Quarter (node 2710783597)”?

From looking at , it can be seen that there have been arguments over the “name” tag. The person who started this thread made a change based on the answers received here, but another mapper is arguing with them (see for example ).

Before I change any data, I just wanted to check back in this original thread to see what people here think should be in the “name” tag of .

Best Regards,

Andy (from the Data Working Group)

Dear Andy,

As the only person who replied to the original post, until now, I’ve tried to respond in a way that represents my understanding of OSM’s localization guidelines.

The facts on the ground are that the majority of the people living in in Jerusalem’s Cristian Quarter are Arabic-speaking and the majority of people living in Jerusalem and Israel are Hebrew-speaking.

Perhaps OSM guidelines need to state how granular this “localization-rule” should go. For example, what about a street, a named building, or a city in the USA where the majority of the people living there are Spanish-speaking? See this Wikipedia article about languages of the USA.

IMHO it is sad, yet not surprising, that the “edit war” on this node was conducted between non-local editors:

The relevant OSMF policy is and says “… recording what is actually currently used in a particular area”. That doesn’t say whether any of a building, street or city would count as an “area”, but I’d suggest that a city definitely would, and a building or street might, if the language usage change was clear-cut. I’d suggest that a “Quarter” does count as an area, so following your clarification here I’ll update the node with link back to here.

Thanks again!


As far as I can see, the OSMF policy does not help much here. I’m not aware of any official sign for the quarter name. If there is such a sign, it is probably turist-oriented, written in Hebrew, English, and Arabic.

In retrospect, on my question about the USA should provide some common sense about the situation

IMO, it would not be reasonable for “Chinatown” to be in written Chinese, or for some neighborhood in Europe to be written in Arabic or Urdu.

I believe that a “name” tag should be in the (or an) official language of the country. In our case, the name for the quarter needs to be in Hebrew. This is obviously different than my initial response on this thread.

For the avoidance of doubt - the OSMF policy doesn’t mention “official signs” or “official languages”. There are lots of countries which either don’t have official languages at all (for example, the part of the UK where I live doesn’t, but other parts of the UK do), or where the “most widely spoken language in an area” isn’t an “official” one.

With regard to multilingual maps. there are some exmples at itself - the cycle map and transport map both show “language in the name tag plus English if different”: . Other examples include which shows “local plus German” in most cases, “German” in others and always attempts to provide a latin-alphabet version of non-latin text

We seem to agree that the OSMF policy does not help much here.

The requested guideline is about non-disputed areas where the local language is different than that of the (non-disputed) larger area.

What would you respond to the question about the USA and Europe?

I thought I had :slight_smile:

In places where the local population speaks a different language to an “official language” of the country, it makes perfect sense for the “name” tag to reflect that locally-spoken language. For example, there are places in Italy where the “official” name (in Italian) is in a language that local mappers don’t believe best represents what is spoken there, hence having a name of “Casteddu/Cagliari”, representing 2 languages rather than one. There was a discussion between mappers from Sardinia and mappers from the rest of Italy; most Sardinian mappers were in favour of the two-language version; the mappers from the rest of Italy were split roughtly 50/50. The DWG was asked about it, and I interpreted the policy here to favour the local Sardinian mappers.

With regard to the USA, I can’t remember a similar language dispute. There are certainly places where Spanish is widely spoken (most obviously Puerto Rico ), and most names there are in Spanish. Spanish names are also very, very common in the American west and southwest, but I’m not aware of any major “Spanish / English name conflicts”. The nearest I suppose is whether the city in the song should be e.g. San Jose or San José (I’ve seen discussions in OSM US Slack about that), but in my experience as a visitor everyone pronounced it close to the Spanish way, whether native speakers of English, Spanish or something else altogether. If you wanted to find a “Spanish speaking majority but English name” place in the US I’d suggest asking about places in the central CA valley, or perhaps bits of Texas or suburbs of Miami. Off the top of my head I can’t think of one.

Elsewhere, in New Zealand there has been discussion of whether the placenames should have accents on them - see for some discussion and for the mailing list discussion that followed.

Does that answer your question?

As far as I can tell, the vast majority of local mappers in Israel use Hebrew for place and street names while the vast majority of changes of Hebrew names into Arabic names were not done by local mappers.

Dear Andy,
I totally disagree with putting the ‘name’ tag in Arabic instead of Hebrew which is the language that’s used in this area in changeset
The suggestion to change the name tag to Arabic was requested by not a local mapper, it was suggested by an Iranian mapper, which I don’t want to get political but we all know the background of this.
This same user used bad language and called me “racist and dismissive” in clear text which goes totally against the OSM guidelines! he had previously mass vandalize other countries around the map and did not get a single warning? instead you blocked me for calling him out
You unfortunately decided to make this change based on a non local person and ignored a local mapper who suggested the name to be put in Hebrew. The names on the map should be according on the locals, which in the forum post a local mapper clearly said to not put it in Arabic.
Therefore, we should change the ‘name’ tag back to Hebrew based on what the local had said previously to you. And the only consideration of changing the name tag should be risen by locals only.
Best Regards.

Hello All,
Plus what I have mentioned above here are a few other reasons why the name should be changed back to Hebrew instead of Arabic.
A simple examination of the neighborhood you can see that’s the only Arabic name in the Christian quarter is the new name of the neighborhood, everything else is almost all in Hebrew, Latin, Aramaic\Syriac, And Greek, each represents the ethnicity and religion of people who live there.
Everyone should know that there is a difference between “Arab speakers” and “Arabs”. The local people of the Christian quarter are not Arabs, they can speak Arabic but that doesn’t make Arabic their mother language.
The Arabic name of the Christian quarter is “حي النصارى” which sounds “Hay Al-Nasara” Hay=neighborhood, Al=The, Nasara=A word that’s used by Muslims to call the Christian, Christians do not call themselves “Nasara” they call themselves Christians.
For example here is an article from the Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon to the Arab readers explain why it’s Christians (مسيحيون) not Nasara (نصارى).
Even if you google “حي النصارى”, Google will correct it to you and say “Christian Quarter (الحي المسيحي)”. See:حي+النصارى
Andy, if you really want the name to be in Arabic, at least put the name as if the locals would say it in Arabic, and that would be “الحي المسيحي”.
Best Regards.