Talk:Oder/Archive 3

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Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4

useful sources:

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 "Odra" = 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)

This means: 88 % Oder, 12 % Odra

Matusz 00:20, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Oder/Odra debate

Older discussion is available at Talk:Oder River/Archive1 and Talk:Oder River/Archive 2

This debate was leading nowhere, as I think we all expected. IMO, now would be as appropriate as ever to digest the whole thing down to the opposing views and take a vote on a solution.

I propose we vote and anybody who so wishes can add a closing statement on the issue. Please do not reply or expect to get a reply - these are closing statements, not continued debate. We should let the vote last for a while and post it in Wikipedia:Village pump and other appropriate places to get more people to review the issue and take a stand.

And I think this would be a good time for everybody to cool down, consider why other people think what they think, do something else for a while and generally be absent from this talk page for a couple of days. --- Zocky


I list points of view and proposed solutions. Vote for solutions with ~~~. If none of the options fit, vote on the most appropriate one and note your problem in up to 10 words

View A

For historical reasons it is politically incorrect and offensive to use originally German names for anything in Poland. Polish names should be used instead.

View B

Because this encyclopedia is in English, commonly used English names should be used in preference to Polish names. The fact that some are originally German is coincidental and inconsequential.

Solution 1

Use Polish names in article titles and articles themselves, give info on other names.

  • Supporters:

Solution 2

Use commonly used English names in article titles. Use Polish names in article titles and articles themselves, give info on other names.

Solution 3

Use English names for Cracow/Krakow(?), Neisse, Oder, Tatra, Vistula, and Warsaw. Consider this list final. Use Polish names for everything else.

  • Supporters:

Solution 4

Use English names for proper names when those names are more commonly used by English speakers than local names. In Poland those are: Cracow/Krakow(?), Neisse, Oder, Tatra, Vistula, and Warsaw. This list is to be expanded only through research and discussion and reasonable consensus.

  • Supporters: Zocky, Daniel Quinlan, Angela. RickK, "Oder" is an official english name (as of 2003), to be used even to describe times when the river flown through the middle of the Slavic land and nobody dreamed about any Germans (with the name "Odra" in parentheses once! Same with Gdansk - whichever period we talk about we use the name Gdansk (with the name "Danzig" once). Space Cadet, Secretlondon, Salsa Shark, jimfbleak, Adam Bishop, Nico

note: I assume that everybody agrees that other names should be used in historical contexts, where relevant. If not, discuss it in your closing statement, but don't debate it.

Closing statements

Add your closing statements below. It is acceptable to refine your statement, but please don't use this to continue the debate (e.g. by replying to specific points of other contributors).

by Zocky

As said earlier, I'm inclined to support Slavic interests, but I see no Slavic interest here. This is basically a meta dispute about what English language is like. I think it should be mostly left up to native speakers of English, plus thorough research.

Just some things to consider:

  • This is not Poland-specific
    • Koeln is consistently called by its French name Cologne, in spite of being in Germany
    • River Dueres is consistently called by its Portuguese name Douro, although it runs mostly through Spain
    • Ditto Corsica and Vienna.
  • If UK was the only native English speaking country, there would exist a real chance to convince people to switch to Polish names. Britons are geographically and historically linked to Europe. But Americans, Australians and other speakers of English are far less likely to be sensitive, have an opinion, or be bothered. They will just continue to use what they have used so far.
  • The fact that other languages, including English, have different names for places in your country is not bad - it means that those places are internationally famous and important. It's something to be proud of, really.
  • The fact that some of those names sound the same as German ones or have indeed come to English through German is really not important, nor that interesting.

On a more reflexive note, did we achieve anything? Well, the article on Oder is looking much better now then a couple of days ago, and maybe we're even on a way to achieve a more general consensus. Not such a bad job, people.

Zocky 02:31, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Note that it's Krakow, Not Cracow. But I disagree with voting on commonsense. These are the English names, there is no alternative.
Last time I checked, it was still Cracow.

Google has 145,000 hits for Cracow in English and 848,000 for Krakow. I never even heard of Cracow until seeing it on this page. RickK 16:28, 11 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)

The alternative

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)

I don't belive these statistics. Additionally if we accept the fact that both names are used, we should we restrict to only one. I repeat this one more time. I have nothing against using English names like Warsaw and Cracow for georraphical objects in Poland. But I do stongly object to using German names for Polish geographical objects (for historical reasons). I repeat this once more: I have nothing against calling Polish capital Warsaw, but if the English name for Polish capital was Warschau, I would object it strongly. -- CC, 03:28, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

It is decidedly non-neutral to be prejudiced against English names when they happen to be based on the German (or similar to the German) and to accept them when they are based on another language or originate independently. Wikipedia cannot adopt an anti-German policy. We must be objective in how we select proper names. I would equally disagree if a German person proposed that we not use the name Cologne because it is the same as the French name. Daniel Quinlan 03:40, Dec 11, 2003 (UTC)
So what? Warsaw and Cracow are also based on French Varsovie and Cracovie and maybe on the German Warschau and Krakau. It happens there is no English name for the Odra/Oder river, so the Englishmen have no choice and use the native name of the river. It is decidedly non-neutral to be prejudiced against a Polish native-name of a Polish river, and push a German-native name instead. -- CC, 03:47, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

But there is an English name, Oder. It happens to be the same as the German name. Adam Bishop 03:45, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
But there is an English name, Odra. It happens to be the same as the Polish/Czech name. -- CC, 03:49, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Except that's not true, because no native English speaker has ever called it Odra in the history of the universe :) Adam Bishop 03:52, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Are you sure? In my opinion there are hundreds of native English speakers who have never heard of the Oder river, so when they watch their English language maps of Poland they see only Odra. -- CC, 03:56, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
But isn't that different? On the map it may be Odra because of the recent cartographic technique of using native languages within country borders. Just because some people haven't heard of it doesn't mean it's not the name in English. Adam Bishop 04:02, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Most English language maps show the name of the river as "Oder", including the maps at the CIA factbook and most tourist guides. Even the liberal Lonely Planet tour book map of Poland shows it as Oder. You have consistently failed to produce any evidence to back up your claims. Daniel Quinlan 04:07, Dec 11, 2003 (UTC)
So you agree that both names (Oder and Odra) are used in English contexts (maps, books, guides etc.)? -- CC< 04:13, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
No? Adam Bishop 04:17, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
So this is because of the bad Germans, who don't know English well and use Odra instead: The flooding event of Odra river: Measurements and calculations of the impact in the Odra estuary [1]
Well, that does seem to be evidence in your favour, but even if Germans started calling it Odra, I think it would still be Oder in English. Adam Bishop 04:21, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
And this is perhaps a non-native English speaker who is writing reviews for In Your Pocket Guides Wroclaw: Attracting mostly Polish businessmen and conferences, the Park Plaza is a big glass-and-marble hotel with enviable views of islands in the Odra river. [2]
Here is something about the same 1997 flood, using Oder: [3] Adam Bishop 04:36, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
So you agree, now, that both names (Oder and Odra) are used in English contexts (maps, books, guides etc.)? -- CC, 04:13, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
So, I see that there is no consensus to let this cool of for a while. But it is getting a little bit boring. I just got three meta things to say
  1. CC, stop and think why this is important to people who are not German, but rather native speakers of English. English is the de facto international language these days, but it is still their native language, the one they were brought up with, the one that is as important to them as Polish is to you. So you come as a foreigner and tell them to start speaking differently. I think they find it very offensive, but they assumed you would understand that and haven't spelt it out. (before you try - no, the fact that it's a proper name for a foreign thing does not make a difference).
  2. Daniel, I agree with your wording in spirit - it is the common sense. I think that my wording means essentially the same, but gives additional reassurance to some otherwise sensible Polish editors that there's no agenda for pushing German names into articles and that any additional non-Polish names would be used judiciously. I'm rewording it to reflect that. If you can't agree with it, split into two options.
  3. We're supposedly making an encyclopedia, and all of this is pointless unless the goal is to achieve some kind of consensus on which names should be used in it. For debate, pet peeves, shouting at each other with your ears covered, etc., go to a blog or a bar. Just vote (we're not voting on common sense, but rather what we think commons sense means), say your thing and be done with it for a while. And cc, there was no need to bring your proposal back to this page. It never had any chance of getting support. Zocky 13:07, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Agree that contextual naming can be confusing

As a user, I second the notion that it is confusing to use one name in some (eg, Polish) articles, and another name in other (eg, German) articles; us naive users may well be led to believing that there are two rivers with similar names.


I think so far we all agree that:

  • there is a dispute between Polish and German people (in general) over the "true" name of the river
  • there is a dispute among Wikipedians over what English words should be used for the river's name -- including (a) location of article; (b) bold words at the beginning of the article; (c) references to the river in other articles
  • this is just one of around a dozen similar geographic names with basically the same issues.

Are the above 3 points a fair summary of the situation? --Uncle Ed 15:49, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Nope, there is a dispute mostly between CC (who is Polish, I presume) on one side and other users, most of them not German (I am Slovenian, Daniel is American, I don't know for others). Nobody is German - if they are, they didn't argue from the German perspective.
Otherwise a fair assessment. I thought that maybe we should at least decide what non-original names to use for Polish things, and build a general policy from there (although many people think that Wikipedia: Naming conventions (use English) already deals with it). Zocky 17:08, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Taw is clearly Polish, Nico (German?, but someone told me not), I'm UK. Similar issues are appearing all over the wikipedia, often with the same contributors. Secretlondon 17:13, Dec 11, 2003 (UTC)
Nico is from Norway or Denmark (don't know for sure, but his former incarnation claimed to be from Norway, and his recent incarnation is an active contributor on Danish wikipedia). Apparently I am the only German involved here, and my main interest is the end of this dispute. I don't think that Oder is the true name, and I don't believe that anyone else in Germany would think that. It is absurd to think, that a place can have a true name. A name is just an abstraction. -- Baldhur 19:28, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Would everybody who is interested in this please vote so that we can see what their position is. This is a meta dispute and there's no sense in continuing it here. Thank you. Zocky 17:14, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

My The Times Atlas of the World calls it the Odra. Crusadeonilliteracy 17:41, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

But what is defined as a commonly used english name cane somone from Australia confirm wether odra or oder is used in their country ? 04:08, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

My flatmate is Australian and he says it's Oder. Google search for ("river oder" OR "oder river") and ("river odra" OR "odra river") would seem to confirm that. Zocky 11:42, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Suggested criteria for resolving the dispute

  • whatever my flatmate says
  • whatever my favorite reference book says
  • whatever gets the most Google hits

Note that I don't think any of these criteria will really help us. There is something deeper than just "what is it called in English" going on here, some deeper significance to the name. We better identify this aspect and find a mutually acceptable way of dealing with it.

That way might be something as straightforward as mentioning the naming dispute in the article. --Uncle Ed 18:57, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Mentioning the naming dispute in the article might contribute towards a solution, but I remain concerned that the _name_ of the article will be under dispute still, as will the text of all the links to it. But we certainly should mention the dispute. Morwen 19:05, Dec 12, 2003 (UTC)

Ah, yes: I had forgotten about that. It seems that locating the article at Odra River (with a redirect from Oder River is not quite the same as locating the article at Oder River (redirected from Odra River). I gather that the placement of the article gives some contributors the impression that the Wikipedia has endorsed a side in the dispute.

I wish the software could be changed, so that redirects would be invisible.

What are we going to do, not name it at all? Entitle the article that big river flowing out of Silesia, through Poland and between Germany and Poland? Kind of cumbersome, but if it ends the war I'm happy! Reminds me of that Balkan republic which answers to "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" . . . --Uncle Ed 19:25, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

<sigh> Maybe I should explain some things again. We're not arguing about the "true" name of the river, whatever that might mean. The river's first language is neither Polish nor German, and I have a deep suspicion that it doesn't really care what we call it.
What we're really arguing about here is what something (the river) is called in a language (english). The best ways I know how to find out things like that, is
  1. Look it up in a dictionary, an encyclopedia or a textbook (good)
  2. Ask a native speaker (better)
  3. If in doubt, check other resources (internet, books, newspapers), to figure out the usage
These are the methods I use to find appropriate expressions when I translate, which is my job. If you know of better methods, please let me know.
But as you say, there seems to be more to the whole thing. Yes, there is more. CC thinks that the use of Oder is offensive to Polish people (others, including other Polish people, dissagree). It sure seems to be offensive to him/her. The question here is, should Polish people have the right to tell English speakers what to call Polish things in English.
If a name is offensive in itself, probably yes. If "Oder" originally meant "the river around which those Polish buggers live" I would wholeheartedly agree that it should not be used in English. But it doesn't. It's just the name of the river.
If the usage of a name is relatively new, and political changes have brought about a change in the official name, and the former name is felt as offensive, maybe.
But this is a name that has been used in English for centuries. Long before many of the events that CC mentions. Like Vienna, Danube, Warsaw, etc, and users so far haven't switched. So Oder is the English name. From here on is simple Current policy is to use English names, and that's what all of this is about. Is that policy good? IMO, yes. People may disagree and are welcome to discuss it (the policy, that is - there is not much to discuss on specific names, just establish the facts).
CC is basically offended by the fact that the name has come to English from German (said so themself). Might as well be offended by the fact that sky is blue. Zocky 22:21, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Well, let's have a look at what a british and an american encyclopedia call it: Britannica, Encarta. Surely they are not partisan toward either Germany or Poland. --snoyes 19:41, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Zocky, reading your 12 Dec comment gave me an idea. Let's make a list of the major Polish and/or Silesian geographical features which are at issue, and put all the disputes in a single article: Danzig/Gdansk, Oder/Odra, etc. Naming disputes in Eastern Europe or something like that. I think that might help us come to a stable resolution. --Uncle Ed 19:27, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)