The use of the "name" tag across Algeria

Hello everyone in Algeria,

I’m writing this on behalf of OSM’s Data Working Group. A question has been asked recently about the use of “name” tags within various areas within Algeria, and I was asked to raise this in this forum. The problem is that in some places in Algeria, the “name” tag has swapped between French, Arabic and combinations such as “French then Arabic” and “Arabic then French” over the years.

As this document describes:

OpenStreetMap tries to follow the “On The Ground” rule - if the majority of people in an area refer to it as “Name A” instead of “Name B”, then the name within OSM should be “Name A” (though of course other language names can co-exist, and all communities are free to make their own maps from OSM data using name:ar, name:ber, name:fr or another name).

There’s no need for the “name” tag to have the same language across a country. To take an example closer to where I live, in a predominantly Welsh-speaking part of Wales the “name” of is the same as the Welsh name (name:cy), whereas in a predominantly English-speaking part, the name of is the same as the “name:en”. Of course, communities worldwide can decide to do something different - for example, the Belgian community decided to use both languages in the “name” field of (though that’s quite rare and can be confusing for those that do not know what is happening).

What the Data Working Group would like to encourage would be for people to record all the names for a place that are in use, including where relevant Arabic (name:ar), Berber (name:ber), French (name:fr) and any others that might apply. This is in addition to whatever is chosen as for the “name” tag. Having all names recorded means that maps that can show multiple languages (of which is a proof-of-concept example) can show the correct language when someone switches to that language.

Best Regards,

Andy Townsend (SomeoneElse), on behalf of OpenStreetMap’s Data Working Group.

Google translate to French:, Arabic:


As probably the most prolific contributor i can say that the use of several languages is in use il the Maghreb countries. Personnaly i use french and i have some difficulties when it’s written in Arabic, but some OSM users prefers to write in arabic, so we follow what is in work on our roads where the plates are written in two (arabic & french) or three (arabic, french & Berber) languages as you can see below.

So like the Moroccan part of the osm map, we are gona use biligual or three lingual tag name.

thank you I always work with this method

Hi guys, and thanks for this discussion

I always thought that one should use the country’s official language for the name tag, and the other name tags for any eventual translations, would be better especially for mobile application users because so many names displayed on a small screen would really look very ugly, but that’s just my opinion. If OpenStreetMap’s Data Working Group decides to use multiple names standard, then I will be using that as well even though I really don’t completely agree with it.

I understand that using Arabic names can be tedious for a lot of contributors, but I also really wish that my country’s official language would appear on its map. I’m doing all I can to accomplish that, but I can’t do much because of my crappy internet.

It depends of what you mean official. French is used in official documentation both with arabic. A part of algerian people uses only french.

I mean by “official”, the first language, the one widely used across the whole country and most of Algerian people can understand.

Official languages 	Arabic[3]

*Source *

Can’t argue with that, the roots of this problem are quiet evident, and I think we are not here to discuss that.

Another part uses only Arabic (they really don’t understand a French word), others use only Berber languages like (Kabyle, Shawiya, Chenouas, Mozabite, Touareg and Tuat The part that uses only French does not really constitute a majority.

And, so what is your proposal ?

I’m whith hiddeneyes02

look here
you can see that the language used in the West Bank (and all the Middle East) is Arabic, and the other side is the Hebrew.
and all the Globe is an example
Russia in Russian
china in Chinese
portugale in Portuguese.
etc …
In short OSM is a database, you can get what you want, if you use the appropriate quiry via web, apps or software.
or osmand

and about the multi language it causes display problems in some PC configuration and application.

I was invited in the conversation, in fact I’m editing Waze map most of the time, and ocasionally OSM too as I find that it is complementary.
As I don’t know arabic, I edited everything in french in the beginning.
Then I asked the local community about what they like, and finally I started to rename cities with the french name and the arabic name (Waze doesn’t support localization for map elements).

In fact there are not 2 but 3 languages at least in algeria:

The algerian arabic that most algerian speaks. It is not official arabic, people can speak algerian arabic and not understand the official arabic.

From what I know is that most people speak that algerian arabic everyday.
Old people who went to school before independency can read and write french, but most of the time are unable to read or write arabic.
According to Wikipedia 11 million people older than 5 year understand french. It is a lot but not everybody.
The school is now in arabic so young people can read and write arabic, but university is in french, so educated people unsually speaks french.

After that I don’t know the community of editors of OSM in algeria, but are they able to write arabic ? If not, what is the solution ?
From my experience on Waze, only very few local editors are active, and 90% are working in French (maybe because I created the map in french in the beginning I don’t know).
And in the update requests from end users, 90% are also in french.

Another thing, I don’t know very well the east of the country but it seems arabic is less important there, for a lot of cities you even don’t find the arabic name on Wikipedia.


Hi again :slight_smile:

I also just noticed that if you download Tunis’s offline map on Android OSMand app, you can see that if you use only Arabic on a map, it displays correctly, but if you use a combination of French and Arabic, the Arabic part shows those ugly rectangles.

See for yourselves :

If it was for me, I will only use Arabic in *name *tag, French in name:fr and I will even make an effort to add name:ber even if I really don’t speak Berberian. If only I have a decent internet … :frowning:

East or west, they’re all the same. The lack of Arabic translations in Wikipedia does not reflect our interest to our language, it simply reflects our disinterest to online voluntary contributions (and that because of a lot of other reasons), if I may say.

Our dialect is a mixture of Arabic and French, and I can guaranty that 99% of educated people (not to brag, but me being one of them in an educative environment) you are talking about can perfectly understand Arabic as well as French.


I have to admit, one thing that surprised me when I looked at the map in Algeria was the lack of “name:fr” in some places where the “name” is in French - having it also in name:fr would make it easier for multilingual maps to recognise the language of the “name” tag (this was based by having a look at nodes with various tags using Overpass in part of Algeria - - change the


part of the query to “name:ar” or “name:ber” to see other languages).

Unfortunately the layers available on the front page don’t easily allow the selection of map tiles showing different languages, though it is possible to create your own using something like the instructions at and then use a bit of browser trickery to insert those tiles in place of one of the layers on -

A number of different OSM regions have created maps “in their own style” and their own language - if you look at the map at for example you’ll see German names for places in central Europe that have many names in different languages. If anyone would like to try and render Algerian map tiles showing name:ar, name:ber or name:fr locally it should be possible on a regular PC, since Algeria doesn’t have a huge amount of data in it in OSM, though obviously hosting that somewhere that other people can see it would involve some ongoing expense. If anyone wants to try and set up a tile server for a particular language please ask (either me directly, or on, or on IRC

  • I agree with Sandervalya about using bi-lang or tri-lang depending on the region. Even going far using single language, exactly the local spoken language used in the street (Arabic or Berber), same as locals call the place.

If we can’t come up with an agreement, may be we should leave name tag empty? Let the end user choose what to use. (Anyway, most gonna use name:en as fallback)

  • Okey with hiddeneyes02 about 1st official language is Arabic, but French is wide spread in Business/Educational system. We should get benefit of both and any language in-use locally.

  • Somehow disagree with Algebre_gama, I used to work with free/open source software dev. These are two separate projects. I think we should avoid solving a bug in a front-end like osmand by changing the whole back-end OSM database. That fonts rendering bug will be resolved sooner or later. OSM database should filled in a way, easy to use and be useful for any time (it’s a long term project with many contributors).


So what’s the solution ?

Please use arabic name in tag “name:” instead of only french name, butterflyoffire please don’t clean arabic name in tag “name:” , thanks.

Use name:ar, name:fr, the spoken arabic is a mix of amazigh and arabic. Abdjelalil you look more royalist then the king, i keep using latin alphbaet for names,

SomeoneElse was writing to us on behalf of OSM’s Data Working Group and not on behalf of the Algerian Government that never opened data to public. SomeoneElse noticed that there is a problem in the algerian OSM Map.

Link :

Now, I have to replay to our friend abdeldjalil : I’m against all the double names separated by a “-” in the tag “name:” but I’m okay to submit a request to the OSM Working Data Group to study this case.
Last time I was reading something about ISO2 and ISO3 concerning “naming”, sorting and filtering.

Abdeldjalil, I contribute to name the places that I know more in arabic, don’t worry I’m even okay to write the name of all the villages and POI’s in japanese, this is not a problem.
I think that it’s okay to name some places in arabic using the generic tag “name:” but other places and POI’s doesn’t actually have an “arabic” name but can be only transliterated into arabic.

Now, I have to add something that may be seem “bizarre” but, if one day, we have to push the OSM algerian map to be adopted as an OpenGov plateform (leaf) I’m sorry to say that everything must be written in arabic … and here I agree with you.

Yes I contribute in arabic using “name:ar” but everywhere else I use latin … may some OSM Contributors add “name:ar” to all the POI’s we’ve created before :

This is a “Kabyle” land and the name of every village is written in latin in the real world but I added “name:ar” may be “someone else” will take benefit of the arabic tagging. Why not ? I’m not against.

This Kabyle area has a “name:ar” and no “name:ber”

But I’m against naming like this : “الطاهير - Taher” or even more “الطاهير Taher” or tri-naming in arabic-dash-french-dash-berber.

Because if we consider OSM as a big database then name:fr=Taher is corresponding to name:ar=الطاهير and never a “mix-humburger” of names is corresponding to a single name written in an ISO standardized language.

To avoid what we call “War Map Edits”, I was asking … So what’s the solution ?
an like Wiki is doing ? Will you name all the chinese villages in arabic ?
A Leaf server hosted is Algeria ? A good Idea (the best) but who is gonna host it ? Algeria Telecom ? Not even in your dreams ! None is supporting the movement of Free Open Source Software here !

Yes I have already read this :

Edit August 27th, 2015 :

Signalisation routière bilingue (wiki fr) :
Bilingual sign (wiki en) :

Jochen Topf

I think, latin alphabet should be a fallback and the user must be free to render/filter/sort using a name:iso if he wants since there still a problem in displaying a “mixed lang. name” in some plateformes such as Android (square caracters).

In the future, to propote berber language over all the territories of Algeria, the administration will show the locations in tri lingual names. Do you imagine the length of “name:” tag ?
There will be even War Edits to have “name:” first name in arabic, then berber, then fr. Other contributor will come to revert them to : Berber, Arabic, then french. So the problem is not yet solved.

Have a nice day … and fun on OSM :wink:
Salutations amicales.

ButterflyofFire , levacher why ??? In tag name : , other country use local name exemple middle east and tunisia in arabic, russia in russian , china in chinese , but algeria why you using french ??? French is not official language in algeria, please use arabic in tag name: , in algeria. :rage: :rage:

May be Algeria is an exception :wink: ? Algeria is not a Middle Eastern Country :wink: It is North African and a World Centered country in the 2D Map. It is not our fault if there are only “latin alphabet” contributors in OSM DZ Map. We are doing our best to “name:ar” but we have a lot much work in drawing streets and pointing POI’s then to name them. And as you noticed, even the administration is not naming 99% of the algerian streets (tertiary, residential, local) so we are naming them as we know them locally “Abrid n SONELGAZ” in kabyle or زريبة سونلغاز in arabic.


But Tunisia is used again arabic name in tag “name:” not only middle east