Policy on accented road/placenames (specifically Welsh)


Is there a policy on OSM for describing road/placenames correctly using accented characters, or should they be left (incorrectly) without accented characters? I have been correcting road layout errors and a few minor road name errors on OSM since a few months, but have been wary of correcting Welsh road names and place names. A good example is each instance of “Lon {whatever}”. Lon is Welsh for “Lane”, and should have a circumflex above the letter o, thus “Lôn {whatever}”. Lon (without the circumflex above the o) is a Welsh female name - I had such a relative named Lon. Fortuantely for her, she didn’t live on a Welsh lane. Should they be amended to correct Welsh, or left as they are in an incorrect state? Another one is the circumflex over the letter y, as in Tŷ (which means “house”). A good example is Tŷddewi, which is the Welsh name for the city of St David’s in Pembrokeshire. Tyddewi is incorrect. Yet another circumflex problem is that above the letter w, as in dŵr (which means “water”). A good example is Garthydŵr in Denbighshire.


I would use whatever matches the local usage. If you see it on local road signs, then put it on the map.

And you may also want to ask on the UK specific forum (go down the forum list), in case there is an agreed convention for Welsh usage.

Thanks. The problem is that the road signs are inconsistent. Some road signs are spelled (correctly) with Lôn, others (in the same towns) are spelled (incorrectly) with Lon. The council’s attitude to the Welsh language can be described as apathetic at best, despite the fact that the Welsh Language Act supposedly forces all public bodies in Wales to give equal prominence to both Welsh and English.

There’s some info in the Wiki: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Multilingual_names#Wales

That wiki page was somewhat out of date (in terms of resources available, if not in terms of advice) - I’ve tidied it a bit.

If you’re actually resident in Wales and Welsh speaking then you’ve probably got more idea what’s “correct” then most of the OSM mappers within Wales. For example, if I use ITO’s OSM mapper to see who’s contributed in an area near Crickhowell I see a bunch of names that I recognise who are mostly English tourists.

The usual advice is “use the name that’s one the sign”, but if you know that’s wrong then it’s tricky. I can think of one example (someone I used to live) where the “correct” name isn’t on the sign, though it actually matches OS Locator; I went with the correct version and added a “source=local_knowledge” tag. In many cases OS Locator is just mispelt of course and while better than nothing isn’t definitive.

You might get better advice from other Welsh mappers by asking on the talk-gb mailing list or possibly on #osm-gb on IRC (see http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Contact_channels). As you can see from the lack of frequency of posts, this forum not read by most GB mappers. You could also try having a look at http://resultmaps.neis-one.org/oooc?zoom=7&lat=52.32977&lon=-2.70368&layers=B00TFFFFFT and looking for mappers based near you with more than a certain number of changesets.

There are a few other local active mappers, but the chances that they speak Welsh, as I do, are exceedingly slim. The road sign on the road I live on is incorrect, ever since it was put up when the houses were built in 1966. All the official post we’ve received are correct. It was a case of an Anglicised “Welsh” council just making it up as they go along when they made the metal sign, and sadly the same attitude still prevails 50 years later.

What I might do is correct the road names, and set an alternate English spelling without the circumflex, though the use of Lon for Lane is neither Welsh nor English. Half the road signs in my area correctly carry the circumflex, and half don’t. Eventually, the council might get round to replacing them (like when they’ve rusted to pieces, or stolen, or smashed into by a car), but going on their past form, they’ll probably still muck-up the translation and not include the circumflex.

My worry is that people looking for “Lôn {whatever}” on their OSM sat-nav but typing in “Lon {whatever}” won’t find the road they’re looking for. And the other thing is that these roads don’t have an English name of “{Whatever} Road”. The only valid road name for these roads are “Lôn {whatever}” or “Lon {whatever}”, depending on how the Council bloke made the sign/whether or not he argued with a Welsh speaker the night before down the pub.

I hate to point it out, but on that Wiki page name:cy=Fford-y-Mor is incorrect. It should be name:cy=Ffordd-y-Môr. (Retreats…)

I did suspect that :slight_smile: , and I suspect that it’s not the only problem remaining. I did mention on #osm-gb that it could benefit from someone else having a look at it. However, it is a wiki, so typos such as that are correctable, if someone wants to edit it…

I found it most interesting, and not just from an OSM point of view, either.