Select language for common names

This sounds like a good step in the right direction. We’re run into a related issue here in New Zealand, where many of the preferred national common names are Māori names, one of our two official spoken languages, but most users accounts are set to English, which is the more commonly spoken language. We’ve been through and made these Māori names the preferred default names for New Zealand, and we see them if we’re’re logged out and on iNaturalist.NZ. However, most of our NZ users are not seeing those NZ default names when they’re signed in because their profiles are set to English.

We certainly don’t want to go through and duplicate lots of Māori names and set them to English, and I don’t expect that would be interpreted kindly by Māori either.

Ideally, for us, when a user sets their account to affiliate with a regional network, like iNaturalist NZ, or sets a Place like @bouteloua suggests here, then the place preferred name would trump the language-preferred name.


This feature request is so that people could select to see Maori names without changing the rest of the website language (e.g. from English). It would actually be so that the language-preferred name is prioritized over the place-preferred name.


Thanks. Yes, I thought that was the case, which is why I haven’t voted for it. If I default iNat to our New Zealand network, I’d like to automatically see all of the default New Zealand common names, regardless of which are Māori and which are English (and there’s a mix), rather than having to be forced to either see all the English names or all the Māori names.

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That would need manual curation by you perhaps? To a master list for the country of New Zealand (as a third iNat language for NZ?)

And then the two options for Māori, or English.

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Thanks Diana. Yes, we’ve already been doing that for a while now as part of the NZ iNat Network. We’ve been assigning preferred species names to the New Zealand country when they’re different from the global names, and rearranging the order so the name in most common NZ usage is at the top. I’ve just become aware though that when our top name is a Māori name and a NZ user’s profile is set to English, they’re seeing the top English name instead. I’m still trying to get my head around how best to fix this. iNat didn’t used to work like this.


I don’t want to think about how South Africa would / will deal with our many common languages.
Already conflict between the 2 that I was taught at school. iNat always offers an animal before a plant on the list (even if it’s a FLOWER)
So bees offers the Afrikaans for cattle, and then the English I expect (it’s little flying insects iNat?)

It seems odd that setting to affiliate with a network drives language choice. That doesn’t work in multilingual nations like Canada etc at all.

The name display tool needs to be a grid or venn diagram if you wish of language you are running the site in and chosen place for names.

I often run the site in Danish, most common names are not set to display in Denmark. But I often leave the show names from to Canada, just because I don’t want to keep changing that every time I change display languages.

What I want in terms of behaviour is

  • if there is a Danish name show me that
  • if there is no Danish name but there is one set to display for Canada, prioritize that over the almost certainly American global one.

Thanks for that that. Yes, I can see how this is more complicated in places like Canada.

I can see a workable solution for New Zealand being something like, if I affiliate with the iNaturalist NZ network, iNat automatically defaults me to Māori common names and when there’s not one of those, it uses the English name but defaults to the New Zealand Place version of that English name, when it’s different from the global iNat English name. If we can hook the network settings into @bouteloua’s recommended feature, that might do the trick nicely.

Thinking it through like that, I’ll definitely vote for this feature. :-)


I would disagree, setting a network affiliation should not influence names displayed in any way. What happens to the user who affiliates to share data with partners etc who happens to speak a different language, force them to see names they don’t prefer ?

It should be driven by how you configure the 2 existing settings with the workflow improved,


Hmm. I suppose the issue here is what’s the best default that will suit most users, and how best to allow the user to change the default if that is not what they want.

For New Zealand users in New Zealand, it still makes sense to me that the default name should be the most used New Zealand common name, which is the name the NZ network curators have been setting as the preferred name for the place New Zealand (country). That’s a mix of Māori and English names. If a French Canadian immigrant to NZ wants to change that to instead prioritize iNat’s global French common names for NZ species, I’d certainly ike that to be possible while they still affiliate with the NZ network.


Machine translated or not, the Chinese version of the site/app is harder for me (a native Chinese speaker) to understand than the English version. So I prefer to use the English version. However, I still want to see the common names in Chinese instead of English.


btw you can contribute to translation if you think it’s not done optimally now.

In my case I want the language of the website to display English but the common name displays my local language.

Update: we’ve been testing out this functionality and it’s pretty cool but will require more work, especially for user interface and how to display the names.


If this is what you want, then duplicate the Māori name in the English lexicon, and make it the NZ default. We have lots of Afrikaans names incorporated into English (e.g. Aardvark, Boomslang, Springbok (want to start a fight?, spell it Springbuck!)), and Khoi names (Baroe, Buchu, Koekemakranka), and where these are in use in English, we treat them as English names.

You cannot have your cake and eat it. If you want Māori names to be preferred in English, then make them English!! (for NZ only!)


Locally I wanted to encourage people to learn common names in Gaelic. This can be done without translating the app and web pages.
I have added a few Scottish Gaelic language common names to iNat taxon pages. I also associated these names with a location defined in iNat. (I created a Gaelic place name ‘ceap-breatainn’).

Then under my user profile I can select common names associated with this place.
If the Gaelic names have been added then they will be displayed. if not I get the default English names.

This seems to work.

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2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Display common names in multiple languages on taxon labels

This is an urgent now with recent changes

I don’t mean to complicate things any further as I realize this situation might be somewaht uncommon, but as someone who moves around a lot and cares about connecting to local cultures I would love to be able to see common names based on the place where I observed them, rather than based on one specific language. For example, since I have my default set to English I am now familiar with many common names in English of species I have observed in the Netherlands, but a lot of the time I have no idea what the equivalent Dutch species name would be so have no easy way to connect local knowledge to my own. I suppose this is (one of the) of the great benefit(s) of the latin names, but obviously that’s not how most people commonly speak about the species around them. Ideally iNat would allow us to select multiple prioritized languages and then prioritize between them based on location per observation.

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It’s currently being tested by staff. Working pretty well but there are design/display issues that need to be fixed before it’s released publicly.

That would be cool, but is not part of the functionality we’re working on.