Proper transliteration of Thai names to English

I traveled a portion of the road to Ban Phra Phutthabat Si Roi the other day and when I was adding some new data to OSM, I came across some additions by a mapper, user:Aruno, presumably a Thai person, who used the name:en tag in a way that, based on discussions here and elsewhere, I think are incorrect. The POIs in question are in this changeset:

The mapper is obviously inexperienced (having only 213 edits) and some of Aruno’s additions reflect difficulties in using English language tags in a country that does not speak English and for which all the instructions about proper usage are written in English. There are some additional issues within that particular changeset that I mentioned in a changeset comment, reproduced below.

I think I was correct in my comment but I’m looking for validation from our local Thai mapping group. I have often been tempted, and have probably given in to that temptation a few times, to anglicize Thai names the way this mapper did but I believe the best we can do, given that I am not a Thai speaker, is to use the names provided by the Thai Romanization program as the correct English transliteration.

Observations, opinions?


Dave (AlaskaDave)

As for the “abandoned house”, I think he gave a “description” instead of a “name”. Mixing up “name” and “description” is quite common. And then, “building=abandoned” could be a better tag.

Just realized one thing, would transliteration not go under the tagging scheme name:th-Latn instead of name:en?

Best Regards

@Bernard - Yes, that’s the way I view it as well. My first thought was to move his name:en to description:en but I didn’t want to offend him more than I already have so I used the alt_name tag. As for the abandoned=yes tag, he also tagged these structures as tourism=wilderness_hut. I questioned him on that because that area is not a hiking location, rather it’s farmland surrounded by heavy forest. But maybe they are wilderness_huts?

@Mishari - That is an interesting question. Here is the complete tagging for one of the “huts” as he had it:

name:en=Cottage in orange farm

The Thai Romanization program gives “Krathom Klang Suan Som” for the transliteration. Normally, I would use that text as name:en. A complete translation of the Thai text he used would be something like what he put for the name:en, that is, a cottage in an orange farm. Based on some of his other additions, I’m pretty sure those places don’t actually have names and he simply made them up. But given those tags and setting aside the issue of whether the names he used are real, how would you tag it?

I am pretty sure I’ve used the term transliteration incorrectly too. The Thai Romanization program actually provides a translation, although the words are generally meaningless to an English speaker. That said, what is the best way to deal with such situations? Tagging a wat or a hamlet is easy because the name needn’t make sense to English speakers — it is simply a name. But a description:en is quite a different animal. I’ve often wondered about using tags like name:en=Mae Nam Ping when, in English, I would use Ping River (as the first mapper who added the Ping did). But I don’t do that in most cases. I simply use what the Romanization program provides.

Thanks for your feedback and your help.

EDITED: Actually, on second thought, the Thai Romanization program does transliterate; it does not translate. It merely changes Thai characters into their English equivalents.