Naming standards for places - English or local language?

In trying to help with this issue :

I resolved and updated the maps for the East, Central and West Java provinces which were highlighted as single point places. Only after doing so did I learn that the provinces are already in the database, but under their Indonesian names, so in effect, we now have duplication across languages.

Curious if curators :

  • feel the duplication is an issue
  • if it is an issue, if we should strive to have locations in the local name or in English ?
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Places really need to have labels in many languages just like taxa.


Countries should have names accoording to
other only local names unless the English name is also very common.

How did you find out the Indonesian name existed?
I think like ‘‘observation fields’’ areas should have a curation.s system too.

How does iNat resolve the language issue for place names in Europe? In Switzerland many names are equally valid in two languages.


It doesn’t. Any individual place can only have a single name.

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That part of Table Mountain Nature Reserve near my suburb in Cape Town is called Silvermine (that’s one word) but it is duplicated on iNat as Silver Mine.

Then it defaults to the version accepted in English, as the language of iNat?

A place can be entered many individual times, but each one of the entries can only have one name. And there is no default setting etc, it is simply whatever the person who creates it uses.

As a non-curator, I think that at a minimum, since this is a global institution, locations should be listed in their native (or majority) language. Being an American-centric American, I would like duplicate areas made with English names as well.

ISO 3166 assigns 2 and 3 letter, and 3 digit codes to nations. The names listed in the table are from UN statistic divisions.

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Not sure I am a fan of a solution that involves intentionally creating duplicates. That has the potential to spiral out of control and make data management tasks, checklist management etc very difficult.

I’m with @jdjohnson - I’d rather see something that allows a single place to have multilingual labels. I raised this issue as far back as the old Google Group days when the site asked for feedback on future plans, but it never went anywhere or got taken up.


I think level 0 and 1 Standard Places are included in TranslateWiki. Were you requesting a system for other places like what is done for vernacular names?

I think this is where the money is. Especially in areas that have a multitude of languages closely that give a place several different names. Europe being an excellent example but areas like Northern Arizona where you have Hopi, Navajo, and English names and that’s not getting into all the other various languages.

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At this point I am not suggesting or requesting anything, more seeking feedback, which if there then appears to be any kind of consensus can morph into a request.

I would strongly support a request following @jdjohnson’s suggestion to allow multilingual names to be added to a place, as currently allowed for taxa.

URLs for both taxon records and place records currently incorporate the default name, so I don’t think that should be an issue with places any more than it is with taxa.

I’m tempted to also suggest a tool for merging duplicate places with different names, but issues of circumscription, and which place gets priority, could be even stickier than they are for taxa. Not to mention trying to merge associated checklist data…


Looks like @mreith made the request here:

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