User:Zeptomoon/International Names

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Coherent scheme for internationalization of Greek names


  • The main name=* tag should contain only the original local name, e.g. the Greek name in Greek letters.
  • The name:en=* tags should be used only, if there is a commonly used English name, that is different (sounds different) from the Greek name,e.g. name:en=Athens because it is not Atheena. If there is an addition to the name (such as 'Οδός Μαριας') it may also go into the english name:en=Maria Street tag.
  • No transliteration should get into the name:en=* tags, e.g. not name:en=Ioannina.

The same counts for alt_name=*, alt_name:en=*, loc_name=*, old_name:zh=*, and such.


There are some important arguments, that brought me to this conclusion:

  • Transliteration of Greek names into other languages can be achieved much more easily by an automated script/bot or the map rendering program, i.e. Mapnik etc. It can simply substitute the Greek characters with the transliteration: (Λ = L, οι = i, αυ = af, etc.)
  • The tag data should be understood as a database of information, rather than a mark-up language for the map. Only this way, the map data can be used in more flexible and unexpected ways.
  • The user can decide, what will be shown on the map, only if we leave the name=* tag original and sort other info into other tags. Then users can choose, if English names or other language names (translation or transliteration) shall appear instead - or in parentheses after the Greek name.


I picked English and German translation, as that's what I know.

Examples in Greece

The capital of Greece:
Tag Standard Key:en Key:de Key:el
name=* Αθήνα
(official name)

Tag Standard Key:en Key:de Key:el
name=* Θεσσαλονίκη
(official name)
(Thessaloniki is only transliteration, but maybe we can put it, to stick to the standard spelling)
(Thessaloniki is no translation)
alt_name=* Σαλονίκη
(Alternative in English is different from Greek.)
(Geman is the same: Saloniki)

A square in Heraklion with a fountain in the shape of lions: Node on OSM
Tag Standard Key:en Key:de Key:el
name=* Πλατεία Ελευθερίου Βενιζέλου
(official name)
Eleftherios Venizelos Square
Eleftherios Venizelos Platz
Πλατεία Ελευθερίου Βενιζέλου
alt_name=* Πλατεία Λιονταριών
(What most people call it)
Lions' Square
(What English tourists call it.)
(What German tourists call it.)
Πλατεία Λιονταριών

Some church somewhere in Greece:
Tag Standard Key:en Key:de Key:el
name=* Ναός Αγίων Πάντων
(official name)
All Saints' Church
Ναός Αγίων Πάντων

Examples in other countries

I don't know, if the transliteration from/to other writing systems is as easy as from/to Greek, but there has been some effort already! See here:[1]

The capital of China: Node on OSM
Tag Standard Key:en Key:de Key:el
name=* 北京市
(official name on
(What I found on Wikipedia)
(More usual in Germany)
alt_name=* 北京 or 燕京
(??? Not sure!)
(Also known as...)
(Sometimes used in Germany.)

Open questions

Mass automatic transliteration

Maybe, maybe (probably not) it might good to also have transliterations in the tags in order for the search to find them. This could easily be done automatically. Much better though, if the search engine would transliterate the internal database or at best just look for similar spellings!

Genitive street names

What about the genitive case of the Greek street names? Should we incorporate that into the tranlsations:

  • Οδός Σοφοκλέους > Sophokles' Street  ?
  • Οδός Τίτου Γεωργιάδου > Titos Georgiadi's Street  ?