Talk:Oder/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

first section

The more common name in English is clearly Oder. Odra is used about 1/3 of the time in English according to Google, so that is also mentioned, but it is awkward and silly to mention both. Note that there are cities entirely located in Germany which are called by their French names (rather than the local German) in English! Cologne is the best example. Daniel Quinlan 23:07, Dec 9, 2003 (UTC)
No, this isn't about which name is native. It's about which name is English. As all languages, English gets its words for foreign places from foreign languages, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. That Odra is called Oder in English is a coincidence of fate, not some sinister German domination policy. All of this is absurd: If Poland happend to be called Polen in English, would we also be required to call it Polska in English texts? Zocky

We hashed this issue out thoroughly last year! And the agreement was:

  • article goes to Oder River with a redirect from Odra River
  • river is called Oder or Odra and we use the slash for tough spots

--Uncle Ed 23:14, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Slashes are bad. See above. Zocky 23:20, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Well, several users such as User:taw refuse to move on and continually edit articles to change the name, not unlike how User:Vergina periodically changes Republic of Macedonia to FYROM in various articles. I don't think there is such a thing as a tough spot. Each and every article should settle on one name for anything and stick to it. If that offends someone's sensibilities or someone wants to change English usage, there is not too much we can reasonably do about it without worsening Wikipedia. Finally, the vote above pretty clearly establishes that the consensus is that the English name is Oder. Daniel Quinlan 23:30, Dec 9, 2003 (UTC)

This article is again turning into a multilingual dictionary entry. I' ve done some google research on Oder/Odra thing. I was interested in which name is more commonly used by native speakers and other writers in English. These are the results I got.

  • "river Oder" and "Oder river"
    • On all pages in English - 4790
    • On pages in English on the .de and .at domains: 529 + 42
    • On pages in English on the .uk and .au domain: 197 + 43
    • On all pages in English excluding those on .de and .at domains: 4219
  • "river Odra" and "Odra river"
    • On all pages in English - 2347
    • On pages in English on the .pl and .cz domains: 839
    • On pages in English on the .uk and .au domain: 50 + 4
    • On all pages in English excluding those on .pl and .cz domains: 1508
  • Oder:Odra ratio on all pages - 2:1
  • Oder:Odra ratio outside home domains - 2.8:1
  • Oder:Odra ratio in English language domains - 4.4:1
  • Percentage of German uses of "Oder" in all uses of "Oder" = at least 12%
  • Percentage of Polish and Czech uses of "Odra" in all uses of "Oder" = at least 29%

That's the data. I think that it (especially the use in known english language domains) speaks for itself - Oder is the preferred name, with Odra being used by some people (many of them Czechs and Poles), as all other original names are. Zocky 23:20, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Wow, nice analysis! Slam dunk. Daniel Quinlan 23:30, Dec 9, 2003 (UTC)
What does it prove considering that there are some 10 times more home computers in German speaking countries than in the Slavonic speaking countries. And inhabitants of all of them are making www pages in English these days -- CC, 23:26, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Actually, Odra/Oder is mentioned more often on Polish and Czech pages than German, so the whole thing could as well be biased the other way. -Zocky 23:28, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)
The analysis of sites in English-speaking countries is what matters most. Note the line I have emboldened above. Daniel Quinlan 23:30, Dec 9, 2003 (UTC)

I have nothing against that this topic is stored under the Oder name, but I think that Polish/Czech topics should use Odra, Odra river links and the German topics should use the Oder, Oder river links. In international topics like List of rivers of Europe both names should be used. In other case we will constantly have edit wars by old and new editors. -- CC, 23:22, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Close, but not quite. Polish/Czech Wikipedias should use Odra. English Wikipedia should use Oder period. English Wikipedia — English names. There is no other option. We should always note local names (as we do), but the only fair way to name articles and generally refer to names is to go by international English usage. Not using the English name anywhere is confusing and is frankly nonsensical. Daniel Quinlan 23:30, Dec 9, 2003 (UTC)
Daniel please do at least as much contribution to the article, as you do to the discussion. Matusz 23:54, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Matusz, I have contributed to the article. Check the history. Daniel Quinlan 22:37, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)
Having read all this, being sympathetic with CC feelings, being a Pole however my commonsense tells me the use of the name Oder in English Wikipedia is perfectly correct. Further debate is useless IMO. BTW I have doubts if for example Heimatvertriebene is the correct English usage in the English Wikipedia.
Kpjas 23:56, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Let's talk about the English Wikipedia. Practise of using of German names in English Wikipedia in the articles about Polish cities, Polish provinces, and Polish rivers is unacceptable and will be always reverted by the Polish editors. It's a matter of honour to erase any German names from Polish territories. You can convince, chase away, or ban the current editors, but others will come and change Oder to Odra, I promise you -- CC, 00:00, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

It may be a matter of honor for you, but it is unacceptable in an NPOV encyclopedia. We use whatever name is used in English, period. If the Polish name is not in use, we do not use it. That said, I think it's perfectly fine to mention both in the intro to this article (as I've tried to do, though it keeps getting reworded). --Delirium 00:06, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)
It seems that CC has decided to diqualify themself from the discussion. A matter of regret. Further discussion is useless anyway. IMO, somebody who wasn't directly involved should digest it and archive it. Another vote is probably not warranted. Some of it could be referred to Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (use English) in hope of establishing a workable convention Zocky 00:09, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Summary of past discussion

  • User:CC is determined to enforce Odra naming scheme.
  • User:Taw will be very unhappy if the name stays Oder.
  • A large majority of people want Oder as the name for English Wikipedia, based on common English usage (see archive).

Matusz 00:24, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC), modified Daniel Quinlan 00:43, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)

Discussion impasse and premature archival

I don't think much further discussion on Odra/Odre issue is useful. But if we tried to work out a generally acceptable convention for all names in all articles, that would be worthwhile. Zocky 00:34, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Get it to meta: then and keep the article discussion about the river itself and not about it's name. Matusz 00:35, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Agreed. IMO, you should also return the most important parst of the debate to this page, so people who want to continue the discussion as it pertains to this article, can. I think that google research results speak loudly. Zocky 00:39, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Done by Nico and myself. Archiving minutes-old material and the most recent material on a talk page is highly inappropriate and almost surely against the archival policy. It is also not disallowed to discuss general issues on a talk page if that helps develop a consensus that can be later added to general guidelines like the manual of style. Daniel Quinlan 00:53, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)

I think we have now two versions of this page one here, and second in the archive, both growing. What a mess - CC, 00:55, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

It's basically fixed now, I just had to remove some duplicated text from the archive and move the page to the proper location. Daniel Quinlan 00:58, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)

I think Caius raises an excellent point. That is, he has revealed something important that we need to deal with.

Historical background

It's a matter of honour to erase any German names from Polish territories.

I take this to mean that Poles hate the idea of anyone using German names for any geographical features (rivers, cities, regions) which are of Polish heritage.

Am I stating this, correctly, Caius? --Uncle Ed 15:30, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Poland was partitioned for 100+ years, among three states, two of them being German. Although those states initially promised to allow free development of the Polish language these promises were broken, and everything was Germanised, Polish language forbidden, people and also children using Polish language were persucuted. These practises turned to be partially succesful, as many German names went to English publications. 19th century Encyclopedias usually use the German names for Polish and Czech cities and rivers, because in the 19th century taxes payed by Polish and Czech people we used to finance the German universities, and Polish/Czech univesrities were forbidden. -- CC, 00:45, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Although I disagree with Grzes on the "Oder" issue, I must admit that the use of German names in English to describe the geagraphical features of Poland is highly offensive to the Poles, for historical reasons. When Poland was a multicultural country (from XV to XIX century), the german-speaking polish citizens enjoyed a multitude of rights, privileges and freedoms. German language was not only allowed, it flourished in various provinces of Poland! German-speaking citizens were never prosecuted or discriminated because of their ethnic origin. They published books in German, issued official documents in German, had their own diets and dietines, while never being discouraged from active participation in Poland's political life.

When the tables turned, however, and many Polish provinces fell under Prussia or Germany the situation of Poles was not analogical to the situation of ethnic Germans in Poland. Polish language, history and traditions were brutally prosecuted. History was being rewritten to erase memory of any influence of Poland (once the most powerful country in Central Europe)on European History. Polish schools were being closed, the use of polish language was banned, Polish names of every little village, or stream were replaced by newly made up german names. Polish people wre considered a second category of citizens, with no rights to ascend to any public office. Polish gentry was being robbed of their heritage and possesions under various ridiculous excuses. Polish intelligentsia was denied access of higher education of their children. Polish peasantry was being forcefully removed from their lands.

This, of course, is just a shortened and oversimplified version of the historical events. It is not a point in any argument, just a helpful tool for Uncle Ed to bring him closer to the issue.

Since the end of the Cold War the German names used in English to describe Polish geography became politically incorrect, as seen in the english-language atlases published since 1990 to this day. To the Poles, however, German names in English sources are not just "politically incorrect", but highly inapropriate, even offensive.

African Americans used to be offically referred to in English language by the "N-word", but today nobody uses it even to descibe the times of its being "official".

I think that is bad analogy, be careful. The so-called "N-word" (nigger) was an offensive term of insult used by racists, slave society, and the ignorant. It was based on the (in the past) commonly used word "negro" which means "black person" (and is generally considered offensive since "black" arose as a term of self-description approximately in the 1960s). "Negro" is still seen in older organization names such as the United Negro College Fund and it is still used by some senior citizens (many of whom I would not characterize as racists). See the usage note in this definition at Merriam-Webster. It is a bad analogy because the N-word was never official or common among non-racist society whereas few English speakers feel one way or another about Germans or the Poles. (Although, I do know a WWII veteran who "does not trust those Germans" to this day.) Daniel Quinlan 21:58, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)

I hoped I clarified things a bit.
Space Cadet 16:30, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Not really. You're comparing English place names with racism. It has more to do with which languages influenced English the most in the past and which are most closely related to English (and so are easier to pronounce for most English speakers). Daniel Quinlan 21:58, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)

Nobody here is supporting using German names for all things in Poland

Nobody here is supporting using German names for all things in Poland. It's not even a matter of names being German. It's just an accident of history that when the English got interested enough to learn about the continent, Germans and French were controlling much of it, and anyway were the people with whom the English interacted.

The whole thing is really limited to a few rivers and several towns that were parts of the German Hansa when they became important enough for the English to use their name. Now, they're just English names of those places. For all other things, Polish names should be used, of course (note that sometimes it might be appropriate to transliterate them into English e.g. by loosing accents).

Another important reason for English speakers to prefer Germanic and Romance names to Slavic is that it's easier for them to spell and pronounce them. They just look and sound more normal to them. Our ŠČĆŽĐ and others just freak them out.

I'm sure Polish has its own names for many European cities (Rome? Vienna?), rivers (Danube?) and, of course, countries. Some of them are bound to have come to Polish through other languages. Imagine somebody tries to stop you from using a Polish name for something, and replace it by one that's not Polish, doesn't look Polish, doesn't sound Polish, can't be declinated properly, can't be used to form compounds... Now, that would be offensive. Zocky 19:08, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Talking of Hansa, which was essentially a German organization, I'm pretty sure that the listing of its members should at least mention the historical German names. Zocky 19:10, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Zocky, you're right! That's exactly how these german names became "official english" names. Another important factor was the absence of any polish state for over 150 years before 1918 on the political map.

However, it has nothing to do with the offical english names in 2004. Except for Warsaw, Cracow, Vistula, Tatra and Oder, the official english names for Polish geographical features are identical with polish names, even in reference with various historical periods.

I don't have to imagine anything. It happened many times for the reasons of political correctness. One day they changed the Polish name for Cambodja from "Kambodza" to Kampucza". And I didn't feel offended. I started using the new name immediately to show how up-to-date I was.

Good for you, however, the rest of the English language community does not follow so quickly or so compliantly. It's not up to Wikipedia to promote new names unless they fall into common usage. Otherwise, we'll have to start debating whether we should call french fries "freedom fries" (and other less silly attempts) whenever some group or nation decides that a name is offensive or should be changed. Common usage is the best (most objective and neutral) measure. Daniel Quinlan 21:58, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)

There is a lot of foreign origin words in polish language, that have six identical cases of declension, but it's not improper, it's how you declinate them - by leaving them unchanged. And compounds are not necessary even in many purely polish words and expressions. And I don't feel forced at all. By using the current official names I'm showing the world how well educated and read I am.

The pronounciation of some Polish geographical names can be difficult for non-Slavs, but it's fine if they pronounce it as good as they can, as long as they don't use German names (with exception of Oder and Neisse), because it's incorrect.
Space Cadet 20:18, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I completely disagree with the "Hansa" argument. A lot of non-german cities belonged to this "essentially (...) German organization". Among them also Cracow, but the use of the German name of this city (Krakau) to list the Hanseatic cities is incorrect. As of 2004. Maybe in 2005 it will change. But then I will know and share it with you.

Oh, and by the way: diacritics are not "accents". Accents (as the name suggests) appear over vowels to indicate the accented syllable. They also are different graphic symbols then kreskas and others.

Take care,
Space Cadet 20:28, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Let me see, your basic argument is that we're all being unworldly ignorant racists? Oh, I'm so ignorant! Please help me be worldly and educated. Daniel Quinlan 21:58, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)
That's not what he said, Daniel, and that is not a helpful comment. -- Baldhur 22:10, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)
It's exactly what he said. I take exception to arguments that are based on comparing unwillingness to change the English name of "Oder River" to racist usage of the N-word and alluding that using the current English is not compatible with being worldly and educated. Pardon me, but when I'm insulted, a little sarcasm is the most polite I can manage. Daniel Quinlan 22:17, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)
It was an inappropriate comparison, sure. Everybody feels insulted today, me included. There are few participants of this age-old dispute speaking in a civilised way. Today I read statements like "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Nico" or "your beloved Reich" - it all gets out of hand again. In my view other users are much more brute and insulting than Space Cadet. Probably we all should take a break - I will do so now, good night. -- Baldhur 22:26, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Well, feel free to remove this sequence, I didn't really add much to my previous comments. Daniel Quinlan 22:37, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)


There was no intention to offend anyone. Perhaps I'm not good with picking good analogies. There will always be something different than original in any analogy. When dealing with anlogies try to honestly judge what the author's true intentions were, despite your first impression. Don't just assume the worst of everyone with opinion different than yours. Even if you are a genius.
And no need to tell me to "be careful" - I don't frighten easily! If you don't think I clarified anything, then maybe I aimed the clarification to people who don't jump to conclusions and cry about being offended.
Happy Holidays
Space Cadet 22:47, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Thanks for the historical background, Space Cadet. I feel like I have a better handle on why the names are so important.

Daniel, you make a good point about the n-word, and if you have toned down what you might have said so it only came out a bit sarcastic, I applaud your restraint! :-)

Baldhur, thank you for your good advice. I will follow it myself. Goodnight, everybody. --Uncle Ed 22:54, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Current definition

I think it's good the present version of the article mentions both Oder and Odra names, however I don't like the word somestimes. Previous versions of the article said that both names were used. It's also good it mentiones three national names: the German, Polish and Czech names,as it clarify things.

The Oder River (sometimes Odra River) (German: Oder, Polish/Czech: Odra) is a river in Central Europe (mostly in Poland). It begins in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming the northern 187 km of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line. The river ultimately flows into the Szczecin Lagoon north of Szczecin and then with three branches (Dziwna, Swina and Peene) that empty into the Baltic Sea.

Oder/Odra compromise proposal

May I a suggest a compromise proposal

1) This article is stored under the name Oder-Odra river with the present content 2) The following pages will be made into redirects into the above page:

3) Articles about German cities, regions and other features in Germany will refer to Oder river, for example

4) Articles about Polish cities, regions and other features in Poland will refer to Odra river, for example

I think this will satisfy all sides and will make our work possible. The alternative is to use both names, eg. Oder/Odra which I don't like, and/or continous edit-wars, which I strongly dislike. What do you think? -- CC, 00:33, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

There is another alternative: follow English language usage. Oder:Odra ratio in English language domains - 4.4:1. These articles are being written for an international audience of English readers and when someone reads the name of the river, it should be consistent everywhere. We don't want people to be confused that there are two rivers when there is one. That the river is named "Odra" in Polish, should, of course, be pointed out in a number of these articles. If you followed the consensus, our work would be quite possible. I think maybe you should consider editing some articles unrelated to Poland or Germany for a while. I do it all the time... Daniel Quinlan 01:04, Dec 11, 2003 (UTC)

  1. do we really have to take all discusions about articles to the personal level ? This is encyclopiedia and no article is owned be anybody
  2. it's time to close the discussion on Oder but it is very important to establish policy not to smuggle German names into English articles about Poland. This practice started with the infamous H.J. This must never happen again. For me it would be unacceptable and I see most contributors are reluctant to react when German phrases appear, they seem to voice their protest when Polish names are introduced.
  3. Kpjas 00:11, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Nobody wants to smuggle any more German names into English articles!!!!. Repeat. Nobody wants to smuggle any more German names into English articles!!!!. This whole discussion is not about anybody wanting more German names to be used. Except for Warsaw, Cracow, Vistula, Tatra, Oder and Neisse, nobody (at least that I have seen) in this discussion has tried to propose that. I sincerely doubt that any other would pass the google test above.

(I have proposed to include German - as well as any other - names where relevant in historical contexts. I hope we do agree that it's appropriate to talk about Mediolanum or Londinium when discussing Roman History).

This whole thing is about some users who think that either

  • Exclusively Polish names should be used for anything in Poland - in article names and articles themselves, or
  • English names are OK in the article title, but Polish names should be used in the article.

It all started with those few people trying to change every instance of Oder to Odra. Zocky 01:13, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)