Category Place Names resolution [closed]

+10 votes

To summarize what I believe to be our general consensus on the issue of Style for Place-name Categories:

1. We will:  Use category names in the dominant official / most culturally relevant language of the place in question, i.e. the 'native' language - preferring the 'short-form' when there is one.

Examples: Deutschland instead of Germany, Srbija instead of Serbia, République Démocratique du Congo instead of Democratic Republic of the Congo.

2. We will not:  Be Anglo-centric. As an international project working on a worldwide family tree, we will respect language differences.

3. We will:  Use  [[Category:English Name (native name in native alphabet)]]  for countries that do not use the latin alphabet, i.e. Cyrillic, Arabic, Korean  so that we respect the native language and still make the category easy to find by non-native genealogists.

Examples: Ukraine (Україна) , Kuwait (دولة الكويت) , Israel (מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל).

4. We will not:  Disregard non-latin alphabets and languages altogether simply because we may not be fluent.


It is very important that we come to a consensus on this issue, because many of us are already doing a lot of category work.

Everyone who is working on categories and/or has been involved in this discussion:  Do we have have consensus ?   Please weigh in, so that we can move forward.

closed with the note: Conclusion reached:
in Policy and Style by Michael Gabbard G2G6 Mach 1 (19.6k points)
closed by Chris Whitten
Thanks for posting this nice summary, Michael! I agree on all points.

Chris & Michael  ,understood and agree as some of us move forward on the Magyarország (Hungary) project .At first I resisted but now as I am in motion with it , it makes sense now.Plus,  I see lots of non-English speakers signing up on WikiTree  so the appeal is worldwide.  Magda

I'm closing this question because I think it's been decided. I copied Mike's well-worded explanation to the style page at

3 Answers

+3 votes
Very Good Michael G., Agree 100%, I'd say go for it.
by Living Lechner G2G6 Mach 6 (62.1k points)
+2 votes
I think this sound great.  However in many cases I'm not sure that I will know the the non Anglo-centric name, this is one of the reasons that it's good to work as part of a community as I am hoping that others can help me the information that I fail to understand or comprehend properly.

I haven't done any work with categorize yet so I feel there is a whole lot I still have to learn.

Thanks for all your great work
by Sandra Williamson G2G6 Mach 2 (27.5k points)

You may click on the Israel (מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל)  or Middle East link to get an idea of whats being proposed.

When I'm making categories and I don't know the name in the native language, I just look it up on Wikipedia. Every place page will say in the first line what the name is in each of the official languages of that country. Eg. See the first line of
+1 vote


Excellent post, Mike! It's very important to clarify things like this and you've framed the question very well.
I think you're right on all counts though I'll be interested to hear if any one else has input.
The draft rule we put on was this: "'"Use their conventions instead of ours.' That is, categorize a person using the location name they would have known in their time, place, language, etc."
What you wrote just elaborates on this, I think, except you don't mention the time dimension. Do you agree with that as well? This can very complex in practice.
by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
This raises an interesting point that maybe relates to what the whole purpose of Categories really is.  On the one hand, place names as they were at the time has value, as documents and such from the time are going to reflect those names.  On the other hand, putting the place names of today gives some guidance as to where to go for research and documents and so forth.

I do rather cringe at the thought of tracking all the various regions of the United States through history, in particular.  I have an ancestor who was in the region when the Wyoming Territory was founded, and then again when it was converted into a state, so do I need to link him to wyoming as a state, and wyoming territory, and dakota territory?  Or just put him in the category for the county, and the county ends up in about 15 different categories?  I'm not sure there's any value at all to that, aside from being historically complete, no one's going to use those various territory categories if they're just putting people in the sub-categories of towns/counties/etc.  Similar goes for land in the original territories - I have an ancestor in Maine in the 1630s and his lineage continues there for about 200 years.  Are we really going to create categories for all the various names of land patents and track them through time, such as the Gorges Patent, the Province of Maine, the Province of Massachusetts Bay, etc?  I'm not sure it's useful - I'll end up with some ancestors in "Saco, Maine" and some in "Saco, Province of Massachusetts Bay" and some in "Saco, Province of Maine" and some in two or more of them.

I guess what I'm saying is maybe the "time dimension" needs more thought and discussion; the rules outlined above are a good starting point and can be adopted where they apply right away.

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