Old italian (and german..) toponyms in Slovenia

Hello everyone, sorry for writing in english. I’m a it.wikipedia editor, and I come here since I have noticed that the maps of slovenia with the interface in italian on wikipedia (that come from OSM) have in certain areas everywhere italian microtoponyms, which in modern maps are not present anymore. They come almost certainly from 1930’s maps of the Kingdom of Italy. I think that OSM should show such toponyms, but not as if they were still in use, otherwise the italian interface seems set in the 1930’s and not in the 2020’s. I have seen that some users have tried to move the names from the key “name:it” to the key “old_name:it”, but they have been rollbacked with the reason that you cannot have a key:old_name:it without a key:name:it. Therefore I moved again those toponyms to the key:old_name:it, but leaving the key:name:it (that now contains the same - slovenian - toponym contained in the key:name). See for example node/504490581 (Ciginj). The question is: Am I doing this correctly? Are there other policies or previous discussions of which I’m unaware of?
Of course I’m not speaking of established italian toponyms still in use as “Tolmino” (Tolmin) “Plezzo” (Bovec), and so on, I’m talking about small rivers, peaks of secondary importance, small villages etc…


I’m not an expert on this, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

I think you’re doing it the correct way.

If the use of the (old) Italian name sounds extremely weird and out of time, then you should indeed only tag it with old_name:it.

However, if it is only the mapper’s subjective opinion that it is “cooler” or more modern or more cosmopolitan or whatever to use the Slovene name but in fact the Italian name is still in common use (even if just my a small but noteworthy minority), then name:it should be kept (along with name (Slovene version) and name:sl).


To distinguish between names still in use and names which are not used anymore I was following the it.wiki policy, which considers as obsolete the toponyms which can’t be found in any reliable source of geographical or encyclopedic kind published in the last 50 years. So I usually check the it.wiki page, I verify that there is no recent atlas, map or encyclopedia that uses the toponym, then I verify on other three maps (published by reliable italian publishers) available online that the toponym it’s not used by them either, and then I change the key.


This doesn’t apply to the coastal region, where the italian-speaking minority lives. So of course I agree with keeping all the italian toponyms for the municipalities of Koper-Capodistria, Izola-Isola and Ancarano even where these are not official, that’s obvious. In some cases the toponym used by the local italian-speaking community is different from exonym used in Italy. In these cases the it.wiki policy prefers the local italian toponym, I’m inclined to do the same here.

Perhaps then, just remove name:it if there is no current use of name:it – as then old_name:it just records a historic fact that no longer holds, it becomes something debatable, whether it has place in openstreetmap data at all.

Since some historical names may be difficult to locate otherwise, perhaps these features should be remapped in OpenHistoricalMap for posterity.


For some of them there is some use, thanks to wikipedia/wikidata (or OSM? Don’t know), because google maps imported those old toponyms in his maps. It’s clear that they come from there because for the villages that didn’t have an article on it.wikipedia, they have kept the slovenian name (even if sometimes exists an italian toponym still in use in italian maps), and also because for some places where an italian historical toponym exists and is still used, but there was an another italian official toponym between 1923 and 1945, they have imported the last one, which was the one present on wikipedia/wikidata/OSM. For a long time we have had a problem on it.wiki, with places named with toponyms sourced with decrees of 1923, maps of 1938, or even the austrian cadaster of 1824. Now the policy on it.wiki has been changed and the articles involved are being moved, but in more than ten years those toponyms have spilled over in a lot of places. Some other names are used in historical books about WWI or WWII. So I don’t know… Maybe leave the names which can be found somewhere on the internet (as old_name:it if there is no reliable atlas/encyclopedia/map which uses them in the last 50 years) and move to OpenHistoricalMaps just the ultrasmall brooks/hills/etc? Until now I deleted only a name which I couldn’t find even in the italian map of 1935 (scale 1:25000) which can be found on the slovenian geographic portal.

I notice also that Open historical maps is still at a very early stage, for some places there are not even the state boundaries, so maybe we could keep the historical microtoponyms on OSM and then move the ones not used anymore anywhere at a later stage? Don’t know, just an idea…

Yes, I think a lot of mappers use old_name and disused:* tags as a sort of staging ground for eventual remapping in OHM. As in OSM, it’s also possible to add a note to OHM about a missing toponym without mapping the feature.

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Ok, thanks

As another possibility, the wikidata key can be used, and then in wikidata one can record (among other things) how name changed (even multiple times) throughout the years (docs & example).


Uh, thanks, yes I think that I will do that! Normally they are already present on wikidata as aliases of the label in italian, but this way is better I think :slight_smile:

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Ok, I have another question: Until the 1970’s in Italy was common for state and regional institutions to still use the old maps of the 1930’s. An example is here https://www.regione.fvg.it/rafvg/export/sites/default/RAFVG/ambiente-territorio/pianificazione-gestione-territorio/FOGLIA1/allegati/PURG_Vol3_Tav4_50000.pdf, which is a part of the regional plan of 1978. At least for what regards the area outside the italian border, the map is clearly from the 1930’s, as you can see from the fact that Nova Gorica simply… doesn’t exist XD
So of course there are also all the old toponyms, and some of them have even been imported to OSM. The question is: are these maps enough to mark these toponyms as in use, and therefore put them as “name:it”, or should they be moved to old_name:it too?

Have there been any maps since 1978 that show Slovenia in this detail? How do they refer to these places? I don’t know any Italian, but in the languages I know, 45 years would usually be enough time for customary usage to change dramatically, and common sense would prevail over any map in particular.

The maps that I’m using (dated respectively 2014, 2008, 1985) have a slight higher scale (1:80 000 the one of 2014, 1:100 000 the one of 1985), but they show much less exonyms (the exonyms about smaller villages/brooks/peaks of secondary importance have been abandoned). Of course there are online forums of die-hard nationalists who dream to have the eastern lands lost in 1945 back and they make these long lists of italian toponyms of the “terre irredente” taken from these maps (funny thing about it is that for a lot of those places exist a lot of italian toponyms, from the XIXth century for example, but they constantly take only the ones from the 1930’s, in many cases made up by some bureaucrat), but I don’t think that we should take example from them. That it’s actually the reason why I started as an it.wiki admin to enter this matter back in 2021, seeing it as an obvious violation of the NPOV pillar, especially after reading two academic sources which portraited that kind of usage of italian exonyms in Slovenia as problematic (see View of Semantic Demarcation of the Concepts of Endonym and Exonym and Vista de Geographical names in the languages of official minorities in Slovenia). I know that the logic behind OSM is in part different from wikipedia, where the sources and their level of reliability are absolutely central, that’s why I’m asking for advice here step-by-step. The “locals have priority” here may be not relevant though, especially for these areas of the high Isonzo/Soca valley, where there isn’t an italian speaking population to whom it can be asked if they use a toponym or not. Moreover, from one macroscopic case that I know (Nova Gorica, which in Italy is everywhere known with the slovenian endonym, all maps, encyclopedias, atlases, etc use it, all the media use it, especially now that it’s going to become the european culture capital for 2025, and here on OSM the name:it is “Nuova Gorizia”, which I think was probably used only until the 1950’s-60’s) I’m pretty sure that this italianization is not something that comes from the common usage of the neighbouring population, but from a clear campaign.

This thread about World War II–era German exonyms might be of interest:

From my admittedly less informed perspective, it sounds like these names should be qualified by old_name, alt_name, or something else that would allow data consumers to know that these names are not straightforward modern names for the places, used by Italian speakers in general.

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Yes, I completely agree. I have also read that among the german speaking community here on OSM there have been a lot of discussion on the issue during the years (whereas for italian is a relatively recent issue, since these italianizations have been made on OSM mainly since 2020). Of course the problem is where to set the bar, since you have clear cases on both sides (places still universally known with their exonyms on one side, and exonyms not present anywhere after the end of WWII), but also many shades of grey. As I said above I’m using the it.wiki policy, which is the result of fifteen years of bloody discussions and that I think is a good compromise: very liberal when it comes to accept an exonym (it is sufficient that one reliable source published in the last 50 years uses it), but very strict when it comes to define which sources are acceptable (only encyclopedias, atlases and maps). And then of course you have borderline cases as the map that i posted above: made in the 1930’s and merely “recycled” in 1978 with only minor necessary adjustments like the new state border (I’m excluding it, since I think it’s contrary to the spirit of the policy since the cartographer that made it, made it basing himself on the toponyms of the 1930’s, the people that reused it in the 1970’s where interested in making the regional environmental plan, not in the old toponyms). But of course the OSM community could make other decisions… I see my action here as an anti-NNPOV action necessary in the short term to stop a one-sided campaign, and therefore I’m using a policy which I find good and that I know well, but then in the long term the decision about which criteria should be used by OSM, it should be IMHO a decision taken by the whole OSM community, better if with criteria valid for all the languages.

Why? How else you would tag case where place used to have common Italian name but it does not have anymore?

Or where mapper has info about past name, knows it is really not used commonly anymore and is unsure which name applies now?

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I don’t know, I’m only telling you the rationale that this group of users has used in the last years to revert other mappers that before me found these names completely out of time and tried to move them to “old_name:it”. I thought that it was a general OSM rule or something, if it was a made-up rule, it’s even worse I would say… The solution that I adopted was to put as name:it the name in slovenian, and then to move the older name in italian to old_name:it.
I’m not sure if I understood the second part of the message, but I’m using modern maps to verify if the exonym is still used or not, I explained the procedure in detail above… To verify that the older names are not made-up I’m using two maps from the 1930’s, which I’m sure it’s also the source of the users who put these names on OSM.

The name:it is a tag to store the name of the POI (in this case a toponym) when speaking in Italian.

It could be present even if the name used in Italian is the same as the Slovenian.
And it is actually better if it is present even if it the same name (otherwise there would be no way to understand if the tag name:it is missing because the information is missing or because the name is the same).

I do not know the area at all. What I written is just the only way to have the name:<lang> to work