Wikipedia:Naming conventions/Vote on city naming

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This is a discussion about the naming of cities of Lithuania and Poland. Because it concerns a large number of articles (in some of which, such as Goldap, Panevežys, Kaunas and others there recently have been revert wars over this issue) I decided to create a separate page for voting.

The issue[edit]

The issue is that it is not agreed upon when and if the Polish names should be given in parenthesis in the articles about Lithuanian cities and if Lithuanian names should be given in parenthesis in articles about Polish cities. If they should, then at which cities or town this should be done. Because of common history there are various interlinkings between Polish and Lithuanian cities, such as some Polish towns having Lithuanian majority or significant minorities, e.g. Sejny (and some Lithuanian towns having Polish majority or significant minorities, e.g. Šalčininkai), some Polish towns being once controlled by Lithuania, e.g. Suwalki (and some others just claimed, e.g. Augustow), some Lithuanian cities and towns being in past controlled by Poland (e.g. Švenčionys). Some other towns in Poland historically had Lithuanian majority or significant minorities despite of never belonging to Lithuania (e.g. Goldap), some other towns in Lithuania once also had more significant Polish minorities despite of not belonging to Poland (e.g. Vievis). Therefore, the situation causes disputes and reverts, and as some discussions at various talk pages shown, if few people agrees on something than there will still be others who will continue reverting, some of people do not explain their reverts, others says arguments, which are disputed as ridiculous by other users, therefore I hope this discussion will settle the issue once and for all. In the end of this voting might be done.

Solutions[edit]

The possible solutions include:

  1. All Polish cities would have Lithuanian names and all Lithuanian cities would have Polish names mentioned on the "common history" arguement
  2. Those Lithuanian and Polish cities would have other names mentioned, where the names in both languages clearly differs and therefore it might be hard to understand that it is same city. The different name would not be mentioned if the only differences are the ending of the word (e.g. no ending in Polish and "as" in Lithuanian), or if similarly spelled letters are used (e.g. "sz" in Polish and "š" in Lithuanian).
  3. Those cities names would be mentioned in another language, where there is/was a significant number of that language speakers (a quarter of population or more) currently or historically.
  4. Those cities names would be mentioned in another language, where there is a significant number of that language speakers (a quarter of population or more) currently. E.g. Lithuanian names of Punskas, Seinai would be mentioned, same as Polish names of some cities/towns in southeast Lithuania.
  5. Lithuanian names would be mentioned for cities in territories which were for some time controlled or considered occupied during interwar by Lithuania (Suvalkai region), Polish names would be mentioned for cities which were controlled by Poland during interwar (Vilnius region).
  6. No Polish names would be mentioned for Lithanian cities and no Lithuanian names would be mentioned for Polish cities.

Discussion[edit]

Discussion on this subject previously was done at various places, including: Talk:Goldap (add more)

Pasting discussion :


I'd like to remind everyone that just because city X has name Y in language Z (where Z is not English) does not mean that we need to mention that fact here. For instance, if you look at London, it does not mention that its name in French is "Londres" - and trust me, I suspect that's a fact that's likely to be more useful than knowing the Polish/Lithuanian names of some fairly obscure (to the rest of the world) places in Lithuania/Poland. This is the English Wikipedia, and in discussing these naming issues, you need to look at this from the perspective of English-speakers.

I think a rule that gives its current name in English (if this is different from the next one), the placename in the current "native" language, along with any placenames that have been used in the past and are likely to be seen in English-language works (e.g. we list "Beyrouth" in the Beirut article, as this was its name during the French mandate, and is therefore occasionally seen in older English-language works) is what is needed. Other names may be introduced in the body of the text, as neeeded, e.g. in the "History" section - as in the Beirut article, which mentions the Phoenician name "Beroth" further down in the article (although note that we do not feel we need to give its name in Latin, even though it was part of the Roman empire at one point).

As a side-comment, people who think it makes any difference in geo-political terms whether or not the English Wikipedia makes mention of their favourite Polish/Lithuanian place in Lithuanian/Polish is seriously confused - and IMO needs to get a life, frankly. Noel (talk) 21:04, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

As you can see, it is certain people from Poland who sparks this by addng Polish names to every Lithuanian city. I added them only to a very few Polish towns with Lithuanian history, while they adds them to every town and city, most of them not related, and after removal of thos enon related names claims that it is vandalism. DeirYassin 21:32, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Well, all the territory of modern Lithuania was using Polish at least as the official state language for once and that language was used by at least 10% of its population (the szlachta). On the contrary, the area where Lithuanian was spoken was tiny, even if we compare that to the modern area where it is the dominant language. So, saying that the Polish names are not relevant to some places is simply wrong. Halibutt 22:23, Jun 4, 2005 (UTC)
Area where Lithuanian was spoken originally was larger than it is currently is, it included Lithuania Minor and also parts of northwest Belarus. Once official state language for Poland was Russian, and even Latin script banned, during nazi occupation German language was preffered, etc. (same for Lithuania) but we are not adding all these names in all these languages; also the nobles did not polonize immidietly either, LGD nobles were speaking Lithuanian or Byelarussian mostly depending on their place at first, only then they changed it to Polish. And Polish names are certainly way less relevant to for example Panevežys than Lithuanian name to Goldap (where majority of population was Lithuanian once, not only nobles). Anyways, I hope vote and discussion at the special place will help to decide on this issue. DeirYassin 22:34, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

vote for 6 - No Polish names would be mentioned for Lithanian cities and no Lithuanian names would be mentioned for Polish cities. --AndriuZ 01:24, 2005 Jun 5 (UTC)

We are not voting yet so this has to be treated as a comment. User:AndriuZ, it would be nice if you could provide some arguments in support of your position. In your view, what is wrong with mentioning Lithuanian names for Sejny(Seinai) and Punsk(Punskas), for example? Balcer 03:42, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)
examples especially for You, dear Mr/Ms. (Balcer):
(1)i see that it's is Your privat research interest, not object of English encyclopaedia
(2)as a result of Your editing wars my ISP was blocked
(3) make Your own page with Your translations & interpretations.
--AndriuZ 19:38, 2005 Jun 7 (UTC)
I would strongly support Noel's position - this is the English wikipedia and names used in English should be given to the city names. The time when the official language of Lithuania was Polish was a long time ago (200+ years), so it does not matter much nowadays, it is only relevant for the history sections, if these are present in the articles about Lithuanian cities. For the convenience of the users redirects could be established and a separate list of city names in all relevant languages created (option 3 I guess). Dirgela 13:14, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)
In my opinion, Lithunian names does not provide any information to articles about Polish cities, as Lithuanian names were never (or mostly never) used in writen sources. But I'd say that Polish names are not needed in first sentence of Lithuanian city articles either - if someone needs Polish name, they look into interwiki. But there may be exceptions. Knutux 14:34, 2005 Jun 5 (UTC)
A correction would be that Lithuanian names were and are used for maps for the last century and a bit more. I agree that if someone would take medieval map it wouldn't have Lithuanian names; but however various maps such as ones showing Lithuania Minor released in the past century, or the interwar maps of Lithuania showing the territories in Eastern Lithuania as part of Lithuania, also sources and documenst about same things would use Lithuanian names for Polish cities, so e.g. if someone is interested in history of Lithuania Minor these name smight be useful in the same way as Polish names for someone e.g. seeing interwar Polish map of Wilno Voivodship and other documents. But I understand your and Dirgėla's points about not mentioning alternate names in the first paragraph, this might be a good compromise if others will also agree with this. DeirYassin 14:54, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Coll7 comments: I recently discovered that there is a (great)article called List of European cities with alternative names. It seems to me that all of the alternate names should go there, which would then allow us to implement Option 6, but add a link to that article in each case to identify the different languages. I believe this is the only way to avoid endless revert wars. In defense of the passionate revert-editors: this topic is taught in very different ways in Polish and Lithuanian schools. There are many survivors of the Nazi and Soviet atrocities for whom the Yiddish names (and others) are relevant as well. We should not be surprised that this produces passionate disagreements here. This is why naming each city as it exists in its current nation, with a link to a list of ALL alternate European city names, is the only clean solution. Thus my vote for Option 6. Coll7

As I've said before with respect to German names for Polish cities, we should not create a false equivalency here. We should do this on a case by case basis, but I would submit that there is no reason to give the Lithuanian name for any Polish city. For Lithuanian cities, it seems clear that alternative names should be given. Wilno/Vilna for Vilnius and Kowno/Kovno for Kaunas, as well as the German Memel for Klaipeda, should be given, since these cities were often known by those names in English (Vilnius, also, was part of Poland before World War II, so this should also be acknowledged). For smaller places, I am less certain, but I am inclined to think that the Polish name is likely of historical value, just as Magyar and German names are valuable in articles on Slovak or Transylvanian towns; German names are valuable on Czech, Slovene, and some Polish towns; French names are relevant for many German, (Flemish) Belgian, and Dutch cities; German names are relevant for some French cities; Italian names for Dalmatian cities; and so forth. The basic issue here is what names you might encounter in a book written in English. In older books, I would imagine that Polish names are fairly common for Lithuanian cities - certainly the Lithuanian names will not be found until quite recently. john k 22:59, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Let me add that I largely agree with Noel - the important thing is names one is likely to see in an English text. (I would suggest, though, that the Latin name for Beirut probably ought to be mentioned somewhere in that article). john k 23:01, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The thing which not permits to do it on case-by-case basis is the fact that it does create a big confusion and revert wars then, as was in past. Maybe it works better on German or Polish cities, because more people watches these pages so common sense wins eventually. As for Lithuanian cities and towns, it might be (and is) so that e.g. only one person or two, with their own agenda, watches the page; or maybe more but others are busy and doesnt gets into discutions - and that is understandable, because there are maybe 30 articles about Lithuanian cities and towns, so having a discution on each of them is fruitless and busy people does not even wants to get into them. Also, Lithuanian cities are related toe ach other, basically there can be three groups:
  • Vilnius region - territory, which was taken by Poland in the interwar period. In the southeastern part of it (but not whole region) there is Polish minority, majority in some places.
  • Klaipėda region - territory, which was not part of Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth (only of it's fief Prussia, where German was used), and therefore never had Polish nobility nor Polish names in major sources either (despite of that, Polish names are added and readded if deleted: see Silute).
  • The rest of Lithuania - was part of Polish Lithuanian commonwealth, but was independent during interwar

As for territories in Poland, in relation to Lithuania they migh tbe divided like that:

  • Suvalkai region - territory, briefly controlled by Lithuania during the interwar and claimed for the rest of period. In the northwest of it there is also Lithuanian speaking majority
  • Southern Lithuania Minor - territory, which had Lithuanian speaking majority or significant minorities once.
  • Territories which belonged to Southern Lithuania government precinct of Lithuanian Province during WW1 but not claimed later.
  • The rest of Poland

Also, there is a separate case on some larger cities of both Lithuania and Poland, as you noted, that they might have different sounding names names in both languages.

Decition might be reached depending on different "groups of cases" and maybe can be altered in some specific cases (though I cannot think of any right now), but I think it is still way more productive to discuss it here than on each article separately.

DeirYassin 18:44, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Proposal for further clarification[edit]

As many of these revert wars are often fought over such small details as where a particular name is placed, I think we need to make very specific rules. The first paragraph of the article is often especially problematic. Let me suggest here a more systematic approach. The numbers below are all subject to discussion. Let's consider the places where names are usually put, and possible rules for including other language names in each one.

  • 1. First sentence of the article If a name other then the present one is placed here, it must fulfill stringent criteria, most important being widespread use in the English language in the present day. To make things more quantitative, I would say use in more than 10% of English language webpages containing the name of the given city, as shown by Google (and minimum 1000 webpage hits), should qualify the name to be placed here.
Note the obvious special case: if the city has its own proper name in English (as evidenced by overwhelming number of Google hits), then the name in the language of the country it is in of course prominently given independent of Google numbers, ex. Copenhagen (København),Warsaw (Warszawa),Rome (Roma) etc.
Note:If the city is large enough to warrant an entry in a major English language encyclopedia (Britannica, Columbia etc.) and if that entry mentions names in other languages in its first line, then those names can also be included in the first line of Wikipedia article about the city.
  • 2. Sentence somewhere in the first paragraph - something like: "historically, the city has also been known as", "the city is also sometimes referred to as" etc. For a name to be included here, it must have belonged to a state using the language being cited, in a legitimate way, for at least half a century (so that military occupations don't count etc.). If it did not belong to that state, it can still be included, with appropriate explanation, if current usage threshold passes, say, 3% of webpages on Google (and minimum 500 webpage hits).
Note: in especially complicated cases (Gdansk etc.) a special section on Names might be added at the bottom of the header.
  • 2.1 Another sentence somewhere in the first paragraph - if a name does not fall into above two criteria, and yet the city had/has a significant (over 10%) national minority using that name, one may include a sentence: "Historically, the city had a ______ minority which called the city ________ (language)" or "Currently, the city has a _______ minority which calls the city _______ (language). In case of controversy a reliable source should be provided to justify the claim. Balcer 20:40, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • 4. Body of the article - History section - Any name which for some reason did not fit into criteria 1 and 2 can be mentioned in the body of the article, with an explanation of why it is being included.
  • Note: If it is shown that the Google results have been in any way manipulated specifically to make a name fit rule 1 or 2, that name will be removed. Balcer 23:00, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)


This is just my proposal, now open to discussion. Balcer 23:52, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Hey Balcer - while I said before that I hoped for somewhat clearer criteria, this might be a bit too tight. In particular, it doesn't specifically leave any room for citing books as sources. Whatever google may say, if one can find several major recent historical works that use an older name for a city, that should qualify as well. Another issue is when a language basically makes up a new name for a city. For instance, while there may be some deeply distant precedent for the name Bratislava, to all intents and purposes the name was made up in 1919 and given to the city formerly known as either Pressburg (German) or Pozsony (Magyar). The two p-names should very clearly be given at the beginning, because most books on periods before 1919 will use one of those names or the other - and almost none would use Bratislava. Over all, I think usage in books is a far more convincing demonstration than usage on google - which is bound to be very strongly weighed to the current name. For instance, even though Pressburg should clearly be given at the top, for reasons I explained above, it does not have 10% as many hits as Bratislava. I'm sure this can be demonstrated with other cities, as well. The 100 years requirement also seems problematic. A final question is: how are we to differentiate name changes from "other language names." When Danzig became part of Poland, and thus Gdansk, in 1945, was that a name change, or was it just that another language's version of the name suddenly became dominant. If the French took over Southeastern England and kicked out the English people, would London be the former name, or just the "English name" for the French city of Londres? The whole thing is confusing, and I'd hope for a bit more flexible a standard. john k 03:37, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for your input. First, I switched the duration requirement to half a century (the full century was a typo, I accidently erased the word "half").
In my view, Wikipedia should not have too much focus on history when describing modern cities. It's just a guess on my part, but I think the average Wikipedia user will read the article about Bratislava on Wikipedia because he wants to know what happens there today, not because he wants to know what the city name was in 1914. Under my proposal, Pressburg and Pozsony would still be prominently mentioned, just not in the first sentence. I really don't see why this should be a problem. Surely, most serious users interested in history are able to read beyond the first sentence of the article. Google will also not have a problem with finding Pressburg and Pozsony in the article.
Indeed, to a graduate student in history reading books published before 1918 the inclusion of the historical names in the first sentence might inded be helpful. Clearly though, Wikipedia articles on modern cities are not aimed at that community. In general, the awareness about history in the general public, and hence among Wikipedia readers, is probably extremely low. Seriously, what percentage of Wikipedia users accessing that article will have read a history book about Bratislava? I would bet that the vast majority of users are completely uninterested in history and hence are only confused if little used additional names are given in the first sentence.
As for Danzig, I agree that the issue is extremely complicated. In articles like that a special section on Names might be given just below the header, just as it is now in the Gdansk article. I added a note to that effect in my proposal.
As for flexibility, if all users of Wikipedia were reasonable people, we would not need any rules at all, and each city could have its names listed as needed on a case by case basis. Unfortunately, recent experience shows that things are far from that ideal state. Hence it seems to me we need more stringent rules. Balcer 04:04, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)


That said, I do think that tying this issue very closely to the common usage issue is the most important thing here. The constant basic problem with all of these central European naming disputants is that the combatants (Polish, Lithuanian, or whatever) seem unwilling to view common usage in English as the basic standard to be applied in these situations. Thus, we devolve into discussions of nationalist rights and wrongs, rather than the relatively objective question "which name is used in other English sources." I imagine this is in part because foreign contributors aren't really familiar with English historical literature, and thus don't know what is common usage in English, but I would guess that there's more too it than that. At any rate, the first and most basic rule of this issue has to be "What names are in actual use in English." So I agree with this aspect of the proposal, I just think that google searches are a bad way to determine this. john k 03:43, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you fully. What most disturbs me about these edit wars is that some users think they are some kind of territorial conflicts, where cities have to be claimed for one's side, and the other side's claim must be erased on diminished. Focusing on current usage, as opposed on the supposed historical right to have a name included, will add some sanity to these conflicts. Balcer 04:07, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
As for Google, I don't much like it as a tool either but at least it is easily accessible to everybody, and probably not biased. On the other hand, not everyone has access to, say, a good university library to find books where the names Pressburg and Pozsony are used. My guess is the average bookstore will not be stocking them. Balcer 04:17, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
To alleviate some of your concerns about using Google only, I have added another rule: If the city is large enough to warrant an entry in a major English language encyclopedia (Britannica etc.) and if that entry mentions names in other languages in its first line, then those names can also be included on the first line of the article. Britannica is available on line (at least headers of its articles are) so this will make things easier for users who don't have access to good libraries with English books (unfortunately the majority of the world's population). For cities which are too small to be mentioned in major English-language encyclopedias, I think the Google criterion is the only reasonable way to go. For example, consider the recent revert war on Goldap. How many recent English language sources would one be able to find to help resolve that conflict?


I agree with the point that google is not the best way to see the truth on the usage of city names. Anyone can create website, there might be e.g. some English neo-nazi pages which would purposefully use German names for cities which never were part of Germany except for WW2 for example and such - this is just an example, but there might be nationalist websites of other countries too which uses their language names for cities in English text as a way to make a point (and there certainly are such sites, seen such sites made by Poles, Belarussians and also Lithuanians too). I don't think such websites should count as usage of that city name, but then again, it is sometimes impossible to agree on which site is nationalistic and which is not. While for example a book or any research about Lithuania Minor in English would be very likely to use Lithuanian name, but at least for now, there are not many such things online. I agree with Balcer although that research on usage of the name on books is unfortunately hard to do.
As for werether city name is new or a form of old name, I think it tells much if it is still used commonly. E.g. Kaliningrad is a new name for that city, therefore in Lithuanian now Kaliningradas is used more commonly than Karaliaučius; while Balstogė is a form of Bialystok so Balstogė is still used commonly. Then again, it might be so only in Lithuanian. Then again, even if names are form of same name, they might be very different sometimes, so differenet that it might be hard to understand that it is same town.
I agree with much of what Balcer suggested; however, I think ethnical makeup (significant minority (such as 25%) or majority) is far better reason to include names than political belonging of 50 years or more. With political belonging it is very hard, because e.g. Soviet Union had no official language (even though de facto Russian was), and despite that the occupation was longer than 50 years, Russian names are similar to Lithuanian only that they are written in cyrillic. In medieval times it is even harder, for example GDL had no official language, but written language was Ruthenian; PLC it was also Latin near Polish and so on. Only now the concept of official language is as it is I guess, so this political belonging could probably be applied to modern times only and to earler times I think ethnical makeup should be preffered; while names which might be used due to political belonging historically might be written, as you suggested, in history section. The percentage of "significant minority" and definition needs to be defined though. As well as things about percentages of google hits. But in general, I think your proposal might work. DeirYassin 18:44, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I think including city names based only on the presence of some ethnic minority is a terrible idea. If one wants a good recipe for constant revert wars, this is it. The question of what percentage this or that minority consisted in a given city is the number one issue in pointless arguments between various groups of nationalists. The numbers are almost always contentious as in the past statistics were primitive, and quite frequently manipulated. The criterion of current use is infinitely better. Balcer 19:43, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
As for Britannica - might be good, but somehow I feel it'd cause more trouble. E.g. as I seen there is no alternate name for Vilnius in Encyclopedia Britannica (http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article?tocId=9382027&query=vilnius&ct=) , and I am quite sure removal of all alternate names according to such rule would lead to revert wars. As for Kaunas ( http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article?tocId=9368980&query=kaunas&ct= ), there is only one alternate name given, Kovno, supposedly Russian - while actually that name wasn't used in Russian for quite a long time, it is Kaunas (only in cyrillic) now. If everybody would agree to keep to this rule, this would be good though I guess, and there can be link to the article of alternate names always. DeirYassin 19:14, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I see your point, Columbia encyclopedia seems to be doing better. I have added it to the rules as another possibility. Balcer 19:35, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The full Britannica (available only to subscribers, unfortunately), gives: "Russian Vilnyus, Polish Wilno, Russian (formerly) Vilna" before the article starts. john k 19:20, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

And again, neither rule nor a significant ethnic minority is terribly important here. What is important is what names are used in English. john k 19:22, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Balcer - obviously, not everyone has access to books on the subject, but if someone (e.g., me) does, that should be allowed as an alternative (and superior) means of judging the issue to google. john k 19:23, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Ok, but then we have to formulate clear criteria as to which books should count. These days anyone can publish a book. I could probably find dozens of books published in English by extremely nationalistic Polish groups in Canada, USA or Western Europe, which say things about Lithuania or Ukraine which are far from neutral or even sane, to say the least. Plus some scholars have their quirks, their favourite names etc. For example, Norman Davies in his recent book "Uprising" uses the unorthodox method of replacing Polish names by nicknames so that English readers find them easier to remember. I am sure that you understand the problem, and I look forward to your suggestions for some criteria. Balcer 19:32, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
You are right; I still think though that as for books the percentage of "good" ones over nationalistic and POV ones is probably larger than in websites (about which I told in one of my replies above), though I might be wrong of course. Though in these cases it would still be hard to find out which books should be counted orno; I guess in this case the basing of it on encyclopedias might be better as those are trusted and it is a single source. It's hard to define a single rule based on these things, but unfortunately probably needed, because of revert wars and such. The idea itself of writting names according to English usage might be good, however due to nationalistic books and websites, incomplete encyclopeadias (in some cases; wikipedia is constantly updating and it is not paper so I wouldn't be too keen to base it on other encyclopedias, though it might be needed) it is very hard to count the actual usage. This is why I say that "significant minority"/"majority" of people rule might be better, as it is much easier to count, and in most cases the names used would be from once significant minorities or majorities anyways. DeirYassin 19:46, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I really don't see how counting minorities will be so easy. As I explained above, these estimates are often extremely controversial. Especially in the distant past statistics were poor and possibly falsified, people had a very different concept of what nationality meant etc. In the whole Goldap squabble I don't remember seeing a single reliable citation which would reliably indicate what the percentage of Lithuanians was in that city centuries ago.
Furthermore, even with modern cities with very significant minorities generally only the mainstream name is used. For example Vancouver's population contains a 17% ethnic Chinese minority, and yet the Chinese name for the city is not mentioned in article header. In New York City, 18,9% of the population was born in Latin America and Spanish is their native language, and yet I don't see Nueva York in the first line of article header. Balcer 20:00, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Dear Balcer, Occam's Razor is a useful rule for science & is often phrased as "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity" . That means:

(1 )Prolongation of dispute & Your speculations have nothing in relation to subject of naming conventions - It was clearly stated: make as many as You wish lists of List of European cities with alternative names.
Establishing special rules for (especially as Your own statement) for that small details is artificiall worthless effort.
--AndriuZ 19:56, 2005 Jun 7 (UTC)
Fortunately the question of city naming is not a science. I understand of course that the draconian method of using only the main city name and throwing everything else into List of European cities with alternative names is one solution. However, for me that would be too radical. Some names other than the current name deserve to be mentioned. This is standard practice followed by all mainstream encyclopedias, and I don't see why it cannot be applied on Wikipedia.
Also, to restate the obvious, at this point these are only rought proposals. I have no intention to impose them unilaterally on anyone. I also understand that they might seem somewhat to detailed and pedantic, but observing the revert wars over the past year it seems to me that very clear rules are urgently needed. Balcer 20:07, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Looks good. I'd suggest we also work on more general rules fixing the voting - please see Template_talk:Gdansk-Vote-Notice#Constructive_proposal. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 20:10, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I understand you rpoint about minorities. As for Goldap, the significant minority/majority can be proved by the fact that in town's church mass was used to be held in Lithuanian, also it is proved by several maps I seen. I think also there is difference between "traditional" names made by traditional communities of that language living in the area, such as Geldapė, and also new names, basically the same as original names only applied to other language rules (Wroclaw - Vroclavas), or direct translations (New York-Nueva York). But I understand your point about the controversy about national make up in earlier times. DeirYassin 20:30, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Let me suggest a compromise. I will add another rule to the list above, allowing the inclusion of statements like: "in the past the city had a significant _______ minority which called the city ____" or "the city currently has a significant _______ minority which calls the city ______. Balcer 20:40, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Might work ok DeirYassin 20:57, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Good. I am going to give this format a trial run on Goldap page. Please comment. Balcer 23:10, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Ok, it works there I think. Bolding of the alternate names is also a good idea, so they are immidietly visible despite of being not immidietly after the city name. If every city/town which had significant minorities or a different name in past would be done like this (and other less significant names in the same way written in the article itself instead of first paragraph, maybe also bolded to make them clear), it might be good decition. DeirYassin 09:07, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Concerns about Google

In response to some concerns expressed about possible subversion of Google search results, I have added some additional criteria which should work towards reducing the possibility of that happening. I also added a note stating that if it is shown Google results have been manipulated to increase the number of hits on a name (by creating frivolous webpages etc), that name will be removed. Balcer 23:00, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Stop your funny games polish nationalists[edit]

I think all could see polish ntionalists' games in Lithuanian and German articles in past few days. I am not surprised that "reasonable" poles are "famous" worldwide.

I am just going to ignore the typical childish insults from Zivinbudas (see also Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Zivinbudas/Evidence) and try to add a reasonable comment.
The option of including other names is by no means unreasonable. This is the common practice of mainstream encyclopedias, see for example entries on: Vilnius, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Saint Petersburg. At the same time, there is clearly some support here for the option which would just place all alternative cities' names in List of European cities with alternative names. It obviously follows that if it comes to a vote on policy, that option would be included in that vote. Balcer 07:22, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

See ie Warsaw here. What valid for poles doesn't valid for others. Interesting. Zivinbudas 07:58, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I think this way of only linking to that page (as it is done in Warsaw and Krakow) might be good at some cities at least. Vilnius is one of them I think, because there are very many names of Vilnius which could be mentioned: Lithuanian (Vilnius), Polish (Wilno), Russian (Vilnius in cyrillic), old Russian name (Vilna in cyrillic), Byelorussian (Vilnia), Yiddish (Vilna), German (Wilna), due to communities and history maybe also Samogitian (Vėlniuos), Karaite, Crimean Tatar (if there are any). This would clog the first paragraph, therefore linking to that page is a good solution n this case when city has really many names, especially in cases where names are very similar to each other and most would understand that they are of same city anyways.DeirYassin 09:01, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Let me see what names for Vilno are actually listed on List of European cities with alternative names.
Vilnius: Filniyūs (Arabic), Vilna (Italian, Spanish, Slovene, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian), Vilne - װילנע (Yiddish), Viļņa (Latvian), Vil'nja / Vil'njus (Belarusian), Vil'njus (Russian, Ukrainian), Vilnjus (Serbian), Vilno (Czech, Russian), Wilna (German), Wilno (Polish)
If this would be the only place where other names are listed, we would immediately have the problem of more significant names being buried amid insignificant ones. No reasonable person can deny that the Polish name Wilno is much more commonly used in English language publications then, say, Serbian Vilnjus or Arabic Filniyūs. See mainstream encyclopedia entries Vilnius,Vilnius
The only solution would be to set up some rules for including names in List of European cities with alternative names, but that would just be moving the current problem somewhere else. Balcer 16:12, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)
The fact is however that all these names are significant, except Filniyus and Vilnjus (Serbian), and those are only different than Vilnius because of the restrictions of Arabic and cyrillic alphabets. So I guess yes, at that alternate naming thing there should be restriction that only really alternate names should be written, not names whcih are different only because that language uses different alphabet as in that case there would be very many names (transliterations from Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Bengal, Tamil, Tigray, Tibetan, Mongolian (Mongol alphabet), Thai and so on), mostly irrelevant especially as transliterations might differ from place to place (e.g. Russian transliteration might be Vilnius, Vilnyus, Vilnjus, Vil'njus, Vil'nyus, Vil'nius) and aren't used anywhere anyways. I guess that should be suggested at discution of that page. But for example names like Vilnius, Vilna, Wilno, Wilna could all be found in maps of various times and such, same for cyrillic variant Vilnius probably. Ruthenian is also logical because it was chancery language of LGD so in documents it might be mentioned Vilnia. So therefore in this case I think a link might work better for it not to get the first paragraph of article really clogged DeirYassin 18:06, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Ok then, please propose some clear criteria as to which names would count as "really alternate names". These criteria can then also be included in the vote option which puts all names in List of European cities with alternative names. Furthermore, I don't think you would really put all names on that page. I hope you agree that, for example, the article about Rome should list the Italian name Roma on the first line. Then probably the article on Saint Petersburg should mention Leningrad and Petrograd on the first line. I see this supposedly simple solution might not be so simple after all. Balcer 18:29, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I am not saying it is the only possible solution, just said my general opinion, however here my opinion is not a strong one and I will not object if another good way is chosen also - and I am speaking only about Vilnius here (because of many relevant names it has), not about cities in general (e.g. Klaipeda probably is known only as Klaipeda or Memel(burg) so clogging is not a problem there). In case of Vilnius, this is the official name. As for historical "political" names by the way, I think in most cases they should probably be mentioned in article itself rather than first paragraph as "during Soviet times, city was renamed to(...)". Here I talk only about politically motivated relatively short lived names (Marijampolė - Kapsukas, Visaginas - Sniečkus during Soviet occupation, Mažeikiai railway station (or whole town, depending on sources) - Muravyov, Zarasai - Novoaleksandrovsk, Kudirkos Naumiestis - Vladislavov during Czarist occupation, etc.), not about names such as "Heydekrug" of Šilutė.
All I am saying is that if linking to List of European cities with alternative names is proposed as a voting option, the details for this option must also be clearly specified, otherwise we will get another mess. BTW, in my opinion that option will not get much support. I hope you are familiar with previous discussions on this issue, and especially the vote on Talk:Gdansk/Vote. Read that and you will see that the support for using multiple names was very strong:
  • Issue: The first reference of one name for Gdansk/Danzig in an article should also include a reference to the other name, e.g. Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) or Gdansk (Danzig)
  • Results on VOTE: Cross-Naming Gdansk/Danzig: 46 for, 19 against.
Unfortunately, even after the Gdansk/Danzig vote the controversies have not ended. This is why I am so insistent on specifying very clear criteria for the voting options. Otherwise this vote may well make things worse, as people will find loopholes and exceptions in the rules, and then proceed to run around Wikipedia implementing ridiculous changes, hiding behind the supposed "concensus". Balcer 19:05, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Yes I understand you. BTW I see I did not answered your question about what is a "real alternate name"; I will say it is a name which was or is used by local population, was or is used by some power occupying or claiming city, and is not only a transliteration of name in some other alphabet; if name in some other alphabet is related, it should be given in that alphabet probably. Anyways, if I'd do vote you are right, I'd try to write specific possibilities and try to eliminate possible loopholes. I don't think vote is of first importance now, at first alternate city names in general should be decided on then maybe we could decide on exception for names of major cities which has very many relevant names DeirYassin 19:28, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I support the criteria you are suggesting. They should be sufficient to eliminate completely irrelevant names. As for alternate names, I have outlined my proposal already. If you have your own proposal, please write it out as a formal voting option, like I did above. Then we can compare our 2 versions, and maybe even reach a compromise and merge them into one.Balcer 19:38, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

In my opinion all other names should be placed to List of European cities with alternative names without any exceptions. Only English name and official name should be mentioned in the article, example Warsaw. Its my position. Zivinbudas 20:33, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Proposal by User:DeirYassin[edit]

My suggestion would be that:

  • 1. The name is written in brackets if the city had that name as official or as a claimed name (in claimed territories) during modern times (because in earlier times there weren't official versions of names, these came only with nationalism and national states and such). Definition of modern times would probably be either starting from WW1 (1914) or the rise of nationalism (probably this way is better) in mid 19th century. The names under short time rules, would only be included if they differs significantly from original name (no German name for Bialystok) and if they still remains as name for the city in that language (i.e. nazi creations of new names wouldn't be included, see the section bellow on such short-lived historical names).
  • 2. Also, in brackets there would be mentioned names in languages (not nationalities, so that this wouldn't be disputed) which ever made a majority (over 50%) in the town/city, made a minority over 25% anytime in modern times, or makes a minority of over 10% currently. The decreasing required percentage would be due to the fact that for earlier times less accurate information is available, as well as the longer ago the name was used, the less it is significant for now.
  • 3. Historical names, which are no longer used in any language, such as ones I mentioned (Novoaleksandrovsk, Muravyov, Vladislavov, Kapsukas, Sniečkus, some WW2 German name for Gdynia which I don't remember, etc.) might be either in the first paragraph - but not in brackets - if their usage is well known (such as Leningrad, maybe Memel), or in history section if it is not (e.g. Novoaleksandrovsk). [this can lead to disputes over if name is significant or not, so maybe the decition should be done to rather always mention all such names either in first paragraph or in history section].
  • 4. Places where according to the first rule about names in brackets there should be more than 3 names in brackets, and no of these names is completely different (complete difference is like Klaipėda-Memel, Koenigsberg-Kaliningrad), then a link to List of European cities with alternative names is written. If one of the names is completely different and it is still relevant/used, then it is written in brackets and the link is given for the other names. If some name is completely different and it is only a historical name, then it should be treated in the way as historical names (see paragraph above).

For the clarification, the name is to be considered significantly different if it is similar (derrived from the same), but changed much so that it might be hard to understand for non-locals that it is the same city. That is, the difference in names is not just word endings or change of similar letters (W - V, Sz - Š, etc.). Examples: Bialystok - Balstogė, Hrodna - Gardinas. The name is completely different, if it was changed completely and does not have similarities to former name or they are accidental (towns in Kaliningrad Oblast and such).

Of course, this proposal is not perfect and might be edited with time and such. I have nothing against your proposal about usage in English also, only that it seems the actual usage might be extremely hard to count due to various nationalists websites and publications, etc. DeirYassin 10:20, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

1. I am not comfortable with the rule that would require including a name if it was a name used in a territorial claim by some country. That would lead to endless revert wars, and it is really asking for trouble. The foundation of the current peace in Europe is that states no longer have territorial claims against each other. I think Wikipedia should reflect this. Furthermore, I think you will agree that not all territorial claims are reasonable. For example, there were some extreme nationalists in Poland before 1939 who wanted to annex all of Lithuania. Surely you don't think that this would be a valid reason to add Polish names to all Lithuanian cities.
2. According to this rule, Arabic names for many French cities and Turkish names for many German cities should be included, if these cities have greater than 10% share of Arabs or Turks in their populations. Do you think that is realistic? Just try to make an edit like that in the Paris article and see what the reaction is. I am still in general against using ethnic/linguistic composition of a city's population as a criterion.
3. I broadly agree, but you have provided no solid criteria as to how to judge what would be fit to go in here.
If you can, address these points. I also have some other questions which I am saving for later. Balcer 17:36, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
1. Only real claims would be included, that is, state policy, not ideas of some extremists. As far as I know, there weren't very many of them, and the claims of Vilnius and Suvalkai regions more or less falls under another category anyways, as they were shortly under control by Lithuania. Basically, it is aimed exactly at those claims, because official Lithuanian position was always that these territories are undisputably an integral part of Lithuania. If there were any other so serious claims, then I guess the same ecould be applied there. If however you think there is some possible hole here which could be used to include irrelevant names, you could tell me it so I would change definition. DeirYassin 18:30, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Aha, so your criterion would be state policy. Well, you might be surprised to know that Polish state policy came disturbingly close to considering the idea of occupying Lithuania, during the Polish-Lithuanian crisis of 1938 ([1]). Plus, it was state policy for Poland, at least for a while during the Versailles conference, to demand all territories within the borders of 1772. Now, why is it that you would call these territorial claims "not real"? At the very least, you need a much better definition of what a real territorial claim is.
In general though, I am sure one could find in European history plenty of examples where one country wanted to claimed a portion of another, in a way that today would be considered unreasonable and unjust. Do we really want to reintroduce all of this conflict on Wikipedia? Is Wikipedia to become The Encyclopedia of Conflicts Between Nations??? We are not living in the 1930s, thank God, but the rules you are proposing would make Wikipedia resemble publications of those nasty times. Balcer 19:19, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
By a real claim I mean not that one country is close to invading another country or that the country demanded some territories or such, but rather that one country cosiders some territories to be an integral part of it, despite of them not being politically dependent on that country. Same as Lithuania viewed to Vilnius region, India views to the Pakistani controlled part of Kashmir, People's Republic of China views to Taiwan. These claims has set borders, based on treaties and history and such. Of course, if there is some example of such a claim, where the claim in this way was not based on any historical circumstances and such, then we could define exceptions of this rule; but in general as far as I know all claims of this way were/are quite serious and related to various circumstances which basically means that several countries ha sthe different "rights" to the region (e.g. Kashmir situation of muslim majority and former hindu maharaja signing a pact of joining India despite of that), and therefore both names are relevant. DeirYassin 20:18, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I am beginning to realize that this discussion is not really going anywhere. You seem bent to insisting that the territorial claims by Lithuania in the years 1920-1938 are of great importance to modern readers of Wikipedia, and this should be reflected by including Lithuanian names in the first lines of the articles about cities on that claimed territory. Of course most of the territories in question eventually ended up in present-day Lithuania, so really the main aim of this policy seems to be ensuring that Lithuanian names are added to cities in Poland, Belarus, and possibly the Kaliningrad oblast which were never part of the Lithuanian state in modern times.
I am more inclined to the view that the conflicts of the interwar period are "ancient history", to use the English expression. They should not be the driving force of what names are included on Wikipedia. I know now that you will always disagree with me on that point. Hence compromise seems impossible. Fine, clean up this proposal, formalise it, and let the vote decide. If it is held, since so far the interest in this whole lengthy discussion is still minimal. Balcer 21:07, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I guess if it will be done about naming in general and we'll write about it in various places such as village pump and talk pages of various cities which's articles had revert wars recently, maybe more people will come to vote. Not the most claimed territories ended up in Lithuania, and many of them were controlled briefly by armies of Lithuania anyways. Kaliningrad Oblast was not claimed, but under my proposal Lithuanian names (which are already there in most cases afak) would be kept, because of former linguistic majority. But yes, I guess I will formalize proposal later and then we'll see about vote. DeirYassin 21:48, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
2. This is directed at Yiddish names, which are important, but there was never a Jewish state in this place. As well Lithuanian names in towns of Lithuania Minor and some towns in Belarus, Polish names in some places with high Polish concentrations which weren't controlled by Poland during interwar, also Lithuanian towns in northwest Poland such as Punskas if it would be decided that claim (of interwar) is not enough reason to write names. I think personally that if 10% of town's population speaks Arabic as native language it is nothing bad to write it's name in Arabic in brackets as it how quite much of population calls their home city. IMO such reluctance as for Arabic, Turkish languages and cultures arises for similar reasons as antisemitism in interwar: Jews were "scary" to other people with their different lifestyle, religion, traditions. Same for opinion about muslims now. However, I think neither in Lithuania nor Poland there stil laren't towns where immigrants would make a majority, and even in broader view this rule would be important, because without it there would be no reason to put e.g. Basque names for Basque cities because there was never an independent Basque state there and Basque was never an official language. And as for the view to immigrants, it is this way only in Europe, in for example Auckland, which received quite much Chinese immigration recently, there are even many signs in Chinese and nobody seems to worry, I doubt somebody would revert Auckland's name in Chinese either, but i understand you about Paris.
I personally would have no problem with Yiddish or Arab names or whatever. But I am a realist, and so I really do not believe the French users of Wikipedia would allow the Arab name for Paris to be included. Sad but true. You can include this rule in your proposal, but it probably would not get much support in any potential vote. Balcer 19:19, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
As I said, the vote concerns Poland and Lithuania, and no city in Poland or Lithuania is dominated by some immigrant community (except for Russian dominated Visaginas in Lithuania, but I have no problem of mentioning Russian name for it, also they makes mroe than 10% in Vilnius and Klaipėda), and I hope not many antisemitics remain who would try not to let to add Yiddish names to some towns where it could be prooved that more than 25% spoke Yiddish as native language in modern times (which does not means 25% Jews because many Jews spoke Russian as native language). And, as I said, without such treshold on nationality many historical languages which do not have official status couldn't be used (such as Belorussian in some cities of Poland with Belorussian minorities). However, maybe tresholds could be higher than 50%, 25% and 10% and for example be only 50%. However then some semi-Lithuanian towns in Poland and semi-Polish towns in Lithuania wouldn't get the names listed, and they probably should. So maybe there is another suggestion: use these tresholds only if the name in other language is different at all from the local name, and is not only a transliteration in other alphabet. That way Arabic names and such would probably be not required, same for Russian names for Lithuanian cities with 10% of Russian population as they are also just transliterations in cyrillic. Another version is to write it only if it is significantly different (as explained above), but then some Polish towns in Lithuania wouldn't get Polish names listed and vice versa, so mayeb taht wouldn't be the best. DeirYassin 20:18, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Actually, I would prefer to make a policy which could be applied to all of Europe (or at least Central and Eastern Europe), to settle this naming issue once and for all. This is why I am bringing up all those examples from outside Poland and Lithuania. Balcer 21:07, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Yes, it would be good. Probably even for whole world as things are the same things everywhere. Then we'll have to listen people from other countries too once. I guess then it would be the best to include these names only if they differs and are not just transliterations; this way names in immigrant languages would be removed most likely, but relevant names of traditional communities such as Gasteiz (Basque name for Vittoria) wouldn't. Also, tresholds might be increased.DeirYassin 21:48, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
3.Historical names, which are no longer in use in any language. E.g. Novoaleksandrovsk, former name of [{Zarasai]] under czarist occupation, is no longer used in Russian; same for Kapsukas, fornmer name for Marijampolė, which was used under Soviet occupation but is no longer used in Russian. Or the name nazis renamed Gdynia, which is also not used in German anymore. Basically, various politically motivated temporary names. Those would go into history section. If there is some non-political and long used such name, it would go into first paragraph. E.g. I don't know if Klaipėda is still called Memel in German or not. If it is, then Memel would be in brackets, and if it is not then Memel would be in first paragraph as "Formerly known as Memel"). Though I am not very sure on this, maybe we could still leave it in brackets if it is so important, but then it might give a wrong impression that the name is still used. DeirYassin 18:30, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
One final thought: in your entire proposal you seem completely unconcerned about actual, current usage of the names in English. The whole argument is concerned about the "right" to have a given name included, based on historical or ethnic arguments. In your view, a name should be included even if it is not used at all, anywhere in English. And on the flip side, if a name is used in English, but does not fit your criteria, it will not be included. Needless to say, I completely disagree with this approach, and so would many other users. But we will let the (possible) vote decide. Balcer 21:07, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Actually, you are not right, IMO it is important if name is used in English. However, because of reasons I mentioned, it is very, very hard to decide if name is used or not, this is likely to lead to disputes, people linking to nationalist sites and giving nationalist books to say "see, it is used" and such. In my opinion, the way I suggest would be less disputed in each case. And, what is the most important, is that I cannot think of a case where English name commonly used wouldn't fit under any critearie presented here (remember that if English name is different from the local name, English name will be used anyways as artcile name, such as Warsaw instead of Warszawa). Under my criteria in some cases there might be more names written than are commonly used, but it shouldn't ever be less under this criteria; and anyways those more names would also be relevant and most likely used at some (probably less though) places. And what is more important, there wouldn't be discutions if one name is used "enough" in English to merit inclusion or not, as it would be based on history and ethnical makeup, but would still more or less reflect English usage. DeirYassin 21:48, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I still think Google is a reasonably good way to decide if the name is used. I understand some of your concerns about it, but I think you are overestimating the difficulties here. I added to the rule that a certain minimum number of Google hits must be present also for the city to be included. That means that these hypothetical extremist groups you keep worrying about would have to go to some trouble to subvert the results. Also, I added a note that in cases where manipulation of Google results is shown, the name will be removed.
As for your rules reflecting English usage, I will just again reiterate the Goldap example. According to your rules, the name Geldapė should be included in the bracket on line 1, yet the search for that name yields only one English language Google hit [2]. According to my rules, that name would still be included, but lower down in the header of the article. Plus there would be an accurate explanation why the name is included (Lithuanians used to form a significant part of the city's population). In comparison, Goldap is on over 6000 English pages,
Maybe the thing I dislike the most about squeezing so many names into the bracket in the first line is that no indication is given why each particular name is included. My proposal would at least put each name in separate categories. Balcer 23:15, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
There are 3 or 4 English documents with Geldapė used, you should search Geldape because most English-typing people would not have ė on keyboard. Anyways, you are right that it is not widely used online. However, I believe it is still useful, e.g. if person would get a map of Lithuania Minor then the names would be Lithuanian and such, and it would be easier to find a German and Lithuanian (usually Lithuanian names were also (Baltic) Prussian) name if it's written in brackets. And as I said I am not claiming that every name under my criteria will be much used in English, but it will be used, some names more, some names less, and it is rather a criteria to get knwo relevant names. But I respect your opinion of course, and I see your point about using only the names which are well-used in English.DeirYassin 07:29, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Proposal by User:John Kenney[edit]

Any name which is in common use in English for some period of history should be mentioned in the article. john k 16:28, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I have no problem with this idea, but we would need some clear criteria as to what constitutes common use in English. Is there some authoritative geographical dictionary, hopefully available online, which could resolve these issues? Maybe that would be the best solution. Balcer 17:07, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
There are such things as common use and official names nowadays, but once it used to be way more archaic, especially in relation to, in comparement to England, quite faraway and unimportant cities and towns, there was probably not much tradition. It'd be easy to say what names were used in Polish, Lithuanian and Russian for example, but English is much harder, as there was no tradition up till modern times, that is why we need various criterias and such.DeirYassin 17:11, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I'm not talking about what was used in English at some point. I'm saying what names are you likely to encounter if you're reading a book in English written in the 20th or 21st century (and perhaps the 19th). In general, this is going to be related to historical factors. Looking at historical atlases and the like would be a good way to get started. john k 17:42, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I would prefer not to go back all the way to the 19th century for sources. As DeirYassin already mentioned, the problem here is that quality of coverage (so to speak) of Eastern Europe in British and American sources in the last 200 years has generally been rather poor. You probably remember the infamous quote by Chamberlain about Poland (or was it Czechoslovakia): How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing. In many older English sources I have often seen grotesque misspellings of names for Polish and Russian cities, for example. Using some up to date geographical compilation of names considered in common use would be a better idea. Balcer 18:06, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

That was about Czechoslovakia. Yes - at the same time, names which were in use in the early twentieth century should, I think, clearly be mentioned - Lemberg for Lviv, for instance, was in common use (it is the location of the 1911 Britannica article, for instance); similarly with Pressburg for Bratislava. john k 05:34, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

BTW, why is it a misspelling for English-speakers to call eastern European cities by names different from (and pronounced differently from) how the locals call it, but "Londres" is just the French name for London? john k 07:29, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Please, don't misuderstand me. I have absolutely no problem with an Eastern European town being given its own English name by English speakers. As long as it is a single, consistent name. I have seen too many works where each individual author seems to be making up his own spelling as he goes along, resulting in some wonderfully weird constructions.Balcer 08:25, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Because there were no standards in English and Londres is the standard name in French. In English due to remoteness of the area and relative unimportance the name did not have to be used frequently, and so everybody used to anglicise a name according to themselves. France was near England and London was important, frequently used, so their own way to say it appeared over the time. It is same here, e.g. we have Balstogė or Gardinas as commonly used names for these cities, but if we'd see in some old books names of distant citis, they might be very different from each other in different books even, sometimes a translation of meaning is attempted (e.g. Cape Town - Kapmiesti), other times it is just translitterated, and at other times left as is and such. This is what I'd call mispellings, or, probably more accurantely, archaic naming. DeirYassin 07:35, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Fair enough, both of you. I think "archaic naming" is probably an accurate description. And I certainly wouldn't support things like "Kieff" for Kiev, or whatever. john k 00:13, 11 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I mentioned this on a talk page: I'd love to see a "standard" atlas give the primary name. I'd propose the National Geographic Atlas of the World, 8th Edition, 2004, or the Philip's World Reference Atlas (which is about half the price!), also published in 2004. For historical reference, I do have a copy of the "Reader's Digest Great World Atlas" first edition, published in 1963. --JohnDBuell | Talk 02:18, 11 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Edited proposal[edit]

Ok this is the edited proposal which Balcer asked me to post for voting or such. Terms such as "significant difference of names", "complete difference of names" and "territorial claim" are explained bellow options.

  • 1. The name is written in brackets if the city had that name as official or as a claimed name (in claimed territories) during modern times (because in earlier times there weren't official versions of names, these came only with nationalism and national states and such). Definition of modern times would be starting from mid 19th century, (to avoid further disputes, exact time will be given: the start of 1850), with the rise of nationalism and such. The names used under short time rulings of the city (less than 25 years anytime and less than 10 years in modern times), would only be included if they differs significantly from original name (no German name for Bialystok as it differs just by one letter) and if they still remains as name for the city in that language (i.e. nazi creations of new names wouldn't be included, see the section bellow on such short-lived historical names).
  • 2. Also, in brackets there would be mentioned names in languages (not nationalities) which ever made a majority (over 50%) in the town/city, made a minority over 25% anytime in modern times, or makes a minority of over 10% currently. The decreasing required percentage would be due to the fact that for earlier times less accurate information is available, as well as the longer ago the name was used, the less it is significant for now. On this rule the name would be mentioned only if it is different significantly from the name currently used and is not just a transliteration of it in another alphabet. If the name is not different significantly (term significant difference explained beneath the suggestions), then it would be mentioned at history section or demographics section if it is used by existing minority.
  • 3. Historical names, which are no longer used in any language (mostly political ones), such as Novoaleksandrovsk for Zarasai, Kapsukas for Marijampolė, Gotenhafen for Gdynia might be either in the first paragraph - but not in brackets - if their usage is well known (such as Leningrad for Saint Petersburg), or in history section if it is not (e.g. Novoaleksandrovsk for Zarasai). Google search will be used in these cases to determinate if a historical name is well known, the historical name should get at least 5% of the number of relevant hits received by current name to be included in the first name, else it goes into history section. Only relevant hits would be counted, e.g. not Leningrad Oblast or Saint Petersburg in Florida (to do that, some words could be forced to be excluded from searches, also the hits on first 10 pages of the search would be looked through and the average percentage of relevant hits would be counted, which then would be used to determinate what is an approximate number of relevant hits overally) .
  • 4. For the brackets after name not to get clogged, places where according to the rules on adding names to brackets there should be more than 3 names written in brackets immidietly after the official city name, and no of these names is completely different (term explained beneath suggestions), then a link to List of European cities with alternative names is written instead of writting any of the names (such as is done on Warsaw article). If one of the names is completely different, and it is still relevant/used in our days in taht language or somewhere else, then it is written in brackets and the link to the list of alternate names is given for the other names. If some name is completely different and it is only a historical name, then it should be treated in the way as historical names (see paragraph above) and would not be included into overal number of names which would be written in brackets.

For the clarification, the name is to be considered significantly different if it is similar (derrived from the same), but changed much so that it might be hard to understand for non-locals that it is the same city. That is, the difference in names is not just word endings or change of similar-sounding letters (W - V, Sz - Š, etc.) or applying the word to other language's grammar. Examples of significantly different names: Bialystok - Balstogė, Hrodna - Gardinas. Examples of NOT significantly different names: Lida - Lyda, Vilnius - Vilna.

The name is to be considered completely different, if it was changed completely and does not have similarities to former name or they are accidental (towns in Kaliningrad Oblast, such as Tilsit - Sovetsk, Pillau - Baltijsk, Ragnit - Neman and such).

Another clarification will be on what to consider historical claim: claim means that one country is considering a territory of another country to be integral part of it's own territory, such as is with Indian claim Pakistani-controlled Kashmir or People's Republic of China claim on Taiwan. It does not include the situations where the country had been thinking about invading some other country or if some radical lobby in the country wanted to take some territories.

DeirYassin 10:20, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Thanks for formalising the proposal. Presently, Piotrus is proposing modifications to Wikipedia survey guidelines, discussed in User:Piotrus/Sandbox. I guess this should be taken care of first before we proceed further here. Comments on voting guidelines are welcome. Balcer 18:07, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Belarusian names[edit]

Please do not forget that many of discussed cities also have their historical Belarusian names, e.g. Vilnius - Vilnia, Bialystok - Bielastok, Trakai - Troki. So, in most cases it would be best to give both Polish, Belarusian and Lithuanian names beginning with the name the city has in the language of the country it is now part of.--Czalex 12:55, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Actually yes, once the vote is done, Belorussian names will be treated in the same way as the winning option will suggest to treat Polish or Lithuanian names, that is if e.g. it'd be decided as AndriuZ suggested not to write any historical names, then only Lithuanian, Polish or Belarussian names will be used, depending on which country thje city is now. If my option would be chosen, then Belarussian names would be used for those places where there is or was Belarussian community of the percentages specified. If Balcer's suggestion would be chosen, then it all would depend on the usage of said names on google searches... DeirYassin 13:54, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)
In fact I believe that the result would be applied as a global naming convention on WP, not only limited to Poland/Lithuania/Belarus. Is that right ? Lysy 19:23, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)