Is there a way for me to select English only when my region is set for multiple languages?

I live in South Africa (hence the southern African region), and I keep seeing common names for species in Afrikaans as well as other languages (even in languages I cannot identify, such as for the African Bush Elephant which I keep seeing as ‘Clou’).

As a native English speaker, I would like to set my account to see common names in English only, as it is rather grating on my nerves to see unfamiliar names in languages I am not fluent in especially when it appears there is no option to change the setting aside from locale.

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yes, under Account Settings, you can choose a lexicon (language) for common names. For instance, I view the site in English but use Hebrew common names.

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That does not work.

The problem appears to be as follows (my example is hypothetical - most of the cases I have encountered are in Spiders and Arachnids).
User defaults:
If you set your Lexicon to English
and you set your place name to “southern Africa”
Species Names:
And all the English names are global (e.g. African Elephant, Elephant)
And someone come along and adds an Afrikaans name (e.g. Olifant), and then sets the Place to “southern Africa”
The common name displayed for the species is “Olifant” - this is a bug

The only way I have found to fix this bug, is to Add the English name to the “southern African” region. then it works as it should (although on the species page it says Elephant AKA Olifant)

((I thought that I had posted this as a bug, but apparently not - at least I cannot find it))


Ah: I added it to an existing post and it seems not to be “topical”


This is not a bug, it is an intentional design choice to support users and languages into which the site is not translated.

For example if common names are entered in Icelandic and that is what the user wants to see, and the site is not translated into Icelandic it allows users to do that.

If the language of website display took precedence it would lock those folks out.

There is an active request to reconfigure it to be chose a language to display names in vs. the current names used in which would hopefully resolve this, but it has not been taken up

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Welcome to the forum @capeleopard!

I am not sure how this makes sense?

So Mr/z Afrikaans comes along and sets their site to English with southern African Place names.

S/He then comes and adds “Olifant” as Afrikaans name for place southern Africa.

All the poor English speaking people using place = 'southern Africa" now see “Olifant” instead of “African Elephant”.

I get totally cheezed off, so I go to “African Elephant” and add place = ‘southern Africa’. Now all the English speaking people are happy, but Mr/z Afrikaans will now see “African Elephant” instead of “Olifant”

Please explain how this is a feature, and how Mr/z Afrikaans benefits at all? Either he or we loose out.
To me it is a bug!

It’s not a bug, it is doing what it is designed to do, which as I said is to support users who wish/need to see names in languages into which the site is not translated.

I agree the overall design in terms of display of names could be improved and simplified. There is a request to allow users to specify the language they want to se names in but that comes with issues too. For example then every English speaker will see American names as they will be the defaults. Then you need to ‘translate’ the site into ‘American English’, ‘Canadian English’. ‘Australian English’, ‘South African English’, ‘Southern US English’ etc.

I don’t think that should be needed.

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I’m talking about under the current design. Yes the design should be changed to show the first name that matches both your chosen language and place preference, not simply as it does now.

However it should only do this if you have both filled in.

It is a bug, because it does not work.

I do not want to see Afrikaans names (or Swedish for that matter), but English names, and if some feature catering for languages which cannot be selected interferes with the display for languages that can be selected it, then it is a bug - either in the sense of an unintended output, or a poorly designed intended output.

What about all the poor English users who can now only see Icelandic names?

I’m not going to argue the semantics of what is and is not a bug with you, or its definition.

There is no situation where English speakers are forced to or can only see Icelandic or Afrikaans names. If anything since you can make the Afrikaans go ‘away’ for everyone by just adding an English name using the same place definition, it is the opposite.

I will reiterate the code is doing what it is designed to do, which is to allow speakers of languages the site is not translated into to see species names in their language.

What it is not intended or designed to do is deal with cases where multiple languages all want access to the same place.

That is unfortunate, as there are MANY countries with multilingual people.
French and English in Canada. Switzerland has 4 languages. South Africa has many. Since iNat is international it is a real issue for many of us.

I’m not denying it is an issue, just saying that what the design is intended to do, it is doing.

It is only really an issue when a place has multiple languages and one or more of them is one into which the site is not translated.

In Canada, you’d expect English users to run the site in English and they see ‘Canada’ names in English, and French speakers to do the same.

It is an issue for instance because the site is not translated into Afrikaans, therefore those users have to run the site in another language (presumably English) which means as soon as an English name is entered into the ‘Southern Africa’ place it takes precedence for them.

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I’m not sure if my issue is being understood fully.

My issue, as in the OP, is that I want to see English as my default setting, and as I am South African I obviously want that to be my locale setting.

However, there is no way I can set it to pure English only, because I keep seeing names in Afrikaans and other languages which have been added to my region.

Is there really no way for me to restrict this to English only?

Correct. As mentioned above, there is an open feature request to address this issue.

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Technically there is, but it will not make you very popular. Should you encounter a species with the Afrikaans name just go in and add a name in English to the same place. That will then take precedence.

It will not make you popular as it will mean the Afrikaans speakers (who likely are running the site in English since it is not translated into Afrikaans) will also see the English.

It could also be solved by getting the English and Afrikaans communities to stop using the exact same place definition. If each community agreed to use a slightly different place then each could configure their settings appropriately and enter the names appropriately as well.

So for example if one language community would agree to put their names under ‘Southern Africa’ and the other under ‘South Africa’ it should resolve the issue.

That solution doesn’t work as Southern Africa includes other countries.
(as North America does)
South Africa versus Suidafrika might - if the system accepts that.

no - places that large can only be created by iNat staff.
There is a request to fix the issue, there is no point doing temporary workarounds that will create a huge amount of work.

This is exactly what we are doing in southern Africa. I have had to do it for over 200 species - mainly birds and arachnids. Over 90% of our users are English. If this is how the system is supposed to work, than it is failing 90% of users, for the convenience of less than 10%

Then it is very badly designed: it is not working for the majority of users! It might be doing what it was designed to do, but it is not doing what the users need.

Note that “Southern Africa” is a stand alone place: it is not in the place hierarchy Cape Town > Western Cape > South Africa > Africa.
bouteloua - can you please check that the open feature request will be able to accommodate this hierarchical issue. ((I of course would prefer to see Southern, Eastern, Western, Central and northern regions within the place hierarchy, but it seems that this has been ruled out. [and there are a dozen different ways of making these regions: hopefully a biogeographical one - rather than political or social - would be chosen for iNat if it is ever done])).

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