Usage of less common German translations of city names

Several commercial products that I use, are using OSM as the base data for their maps. Some of them make an effort to display localized names on their maps. In my case, since I am German, they (probably) use “name:de” whenever it is available.
While it is of course very useful to see “Peking” on a map instead of “北京”, and “Kopenhagen” instead of “København” is at least nice, these are city names that are actually used in everyday colloquial German. In eastern and southern Europe, mainly Hungary, however, there seem to be lots of cities with German names that are rather unknown, at least to me and any friends I asked. These are, for example:

  • Zengg (Senj, Croatia)
  • Sechshard (Szekszárd, Hungary)
  • Stuhlweißenburg (Székesfehérvár, Hungary)
  • Neustadt an der Donau (Dunaújváros, Hungary)
  • Lichtenwald (Sevnica, Slovenia)

These are just a few examples.

As far as I know these names may be correct, but they are, at the very least, very uncommon. Some of them have been changed in the past, for example Ljubljana used to be called “Laibach”. But it still seems that more and more of these uncommon names appear over time.

My question is: is there a conscious effort being made to translate city names into different languages, even if these names are not common knowledge? If so, how can these uncommonly used names be discerned from the more common translated names like “Peking” and “Kopenhagen”?
At the moment, it is very difficult, for example, to find Hungary on the German weather map of meteoblue, because the city names are so unfamiliar.


have you checked for the ‘name:de’ key for those cities in the OSM data? No?

for the first two of them

So it’s an issue of the ‘meteoblue’ to show “name:de” for german visitors of their web page?

Yes I have checked “name:de”. That’s why I wrote that they “probably use name:de whenever it is available”.

My question is whether or not it is useful to have “name:de” set if the German name is rather obscure. Any application that wanted to display the map in a localized way would not only show the very common German names (like Peking, Rom etc), but also the others that are rather unkown to the users.

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Do you have an example where ‘name:de’ is not sufficient/OK and you would like to see an alternative name (alt_name) ‘alt_name:de’?

Yes, all of my examples above are, in my opinion, unusual and thus “not OK”.

This is of course based on my experience alone. If someone told me that these names were, in fact, very much in use today among German speakers, I would also be happy. :slight_smile:

If they are historic names (WW2 era) and they are not used much today, I would probably tag them as old_name:de=*


Whenever there is a German name for the city/village and “name:de” is not set: you can add “name:de”.
If there is a second, alternative German name, you can add “alt_name:de” and hope that applications consider this as well.

Hmm, I don’t understand you terms ‘unusual’ and ‘not OK’ here. For all your examples above, there is a ‘name:de’ key with the German name you mention. So, from my point of view, they are usual and tagged as such for 2 - 8 years now

By “unusual” I mean that these names are not frequently used and would not be understood by most people. If I told you that I traveled to “Fünfkirchen”, would you know what I mean without looking it up? If I told you I traveled to “Pécs”, you might even be able to guess the country.
On a map, it looks even weirder to me because so many names are translated, for example in Hungary.


I don’t know if they are “old” as such, they are at least mentioned on the Wikipedia pages of the respective cities. I have just never before heard anyone use them.
I also don’t want my first edit to OSM to be a bulk change of ‘name:de’ to ‘old_name:de’ without any context, that’s why I want to discuss it here.


Understood, but the local people will probably know better and ‘nominatim’ (used on, the search engine will find both.

Depends on the map: shows them in the name of the country, i.e. ‘name’.
OpenStreetMap Deutschland - Karte shows them with ‘name’ and ‘name:de’ if the latter one is set.

Would the german map help you?

regarding this, please always state which map you are referring to, there are thousands based on OSM

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That’s pretty fair! If the ‘German’ name is mentioned in the Wiki, there is no need to change ‘name:de’ to ‘old_name:de’.

I actually like this way very much. I am going to suggest this to the fine people at meteoblue. :slight_smile:

Do you happen to know how they decide the order in which they display the names? For example, it says “Rom / Roma” (German name first), but “Pécs / Fünfkirchen” (Hungarian name first).

You are right, sorry. In this case I was referring to “any map that exclusively uses German names”, like meteoblue does.

I have no idea. But the FOSSGIS e.V. hosts the servers behind *, someone there might tell you (I’m member of FOSSGIS.e.V. but do not know at the moment).

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There is at least a precedent for Livorno, where the old English name Leghorn is captured using old_name:en.

There are also many name:de tags in Poland in places which used to be part of Germany until the end of the Second World War, e.g., around Gdansk. I’m sure this aspect of usage of the name tag has been discussed before, but I can’t find the link. I remember being in Poland, and someone asking about sources for German names in a non-OSM context, and others considering such a request as a bit tactless. Obviously the OSM-PL community has accepted this usage, which probably has low impact on them.

For the most part I would expect most of these German names for villages and, all but a few, towns have completely fallen out of any daily usage. There are examples of where these names may still be valuable in current usage: for instance the Dehio handbook covering the former provinces of East and West Prussia uses them for academic art history.


@ToniE: ich glaube es geht eher darum, dass name:de gesetzt ist und angezeigt wird, diese deutschen Namen aber heute nicht mehr (oder nur noch so selten) gebräuchlich sind, dass die meisten deutschen Leser damit weniger anfangen, als mit dem originalsprachlichen Namen. Hedaja hat das besser beschrieben: solche Namen sollten in old_name:de verschoben werden, wenn sie so gar nicht mehr gebräuchlich sind, oder wenigstens Kartendarstellungen verwenden, die beides anzeigen


deutsche namen für polnische städte nicht mehr zeitgemäss !! / users: Germany / OpenStreetMap Forum

and here the same disussion vice versa

Auffällige Edits mit name:pl / users: Germany / OpenStreetMap Forum

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Ungefähr das wollte ich mit meinem ursprünglichen Beitrag thematisieren. Jede Applikation, die lokalisierte Karten anzeigen möchte, wird, wenn sie ausschließlich ‘name:de’ für die deutsche Darstellung verwendet, eine ganze Menge dieser nicht gebräuchlichen Ortsnamen verwenden. Ich weiß aber selbst nicht, wie und wo man die Grenze ziehen kann oder sollte. Roma/Rom ist noch relativ einfach und auch harmlos, Plzen/Pilsen geht vielleicht gerade noch, aber Ljubljana/Laibach fände ich schon nicht mehr in Ordnung.
Mal abgesehen davon, dass ich mich im Hinblick auf die deusche Geschichte seltsam fühle, wenn auf meiner Wetterkarte die Hälfte aller ungarischen Städte deutsch benannt sind, kommt man da in einigen Gegenden sicher auch schnell zwischen politische Fronten.


Please, I don’t want to start a fight like those threads. I was simply pointing out that on an all-German map, some countries look weird because the use names that are largely unknown and unused.
In addition, my impression was that many of these unusual German names have been added quite recently (in the last 1-3 years). Although I don’t have any hard data to back that up and @ToniE already seems to have disproved it.

I am aware of that and I support the proposal to shift german names which are no longer in use (or even not welcome) in those places from name:de to old_name:de. I provided the links merely in reply to the post of @SK53 - there have been several discussions about the same issue before and there is no harm in just having a look into what had already been discussed in the same context earlier.