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South African Place Name Categorization Guidance and Rules

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Date: 8 Nov 2019 [unknown]
Location: South Africamap
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This is a general guide to the categorization of the South African regional structure, locations and place names where South Africans were born, lived and died. South Africa’s very complex geopolitical history arising from many small republics and changes in political status has been considered.

The South Africa Roots Project expressed very great concern with the proposals made thus far and their entire thinking is to keep it simple so that South African users not familiar with the very complex history will not be confused.

Therefore, it has been agreed that, for purpose of categorization, the following very broad and significant periods defining South African history shall be a guide and shall define the broad basis for division and creation of the categorization structure:

  • 1652 – 1806 – The Dutch Cape (where the emphasis shall be on districts, rather than towns or settlements);
  • 1807 – 1910 – The period during which the British influence and colonization took place and the Boer Republics proliferated across the territory now known as South Africa;
  • 1910 – 1994 – the Union and the Republic (during which the provinces and places names were more or less consistent); and
  • Post 1994 - New South Africa (which saw a major revision in places names and provinces). [1]

The category tree will work down from the standard categorization structure for regions:

  • Categories / Kategorieë / Categorieën
    • Regions / Streke / Regio
      • Africa / Afrika (af) / Afrika (nl)
        • South Africa / Suid-Afrika / Zuid-Afrika

The tree structure needs to be trilingual (Afrikaans, Dutch and English). Presently there is no Afrikaans language tree for regional categories, but initiatives are in place to introduce this. This is a technical task and best not attempted without some experience in the use of the {{Aka|<name>|<language>}} template.

Place Categories

South Africa, as a geographic region, has both historic and current places. Before 1910, there was a proliferation of both colonial interests and free independent republics created, when South Africa was not one unified nation. It is thus agreed that the first tier, under South Africa, [[Category:Suid-Afrika]] (yet to be implemented) and Zuid-Afrika, should be:

  • Category:South Africa, Historic Places, Suid-Afrika, Historiese Plekke, and Category:Zuid-Afrika, Historische Plaatsen (to cater for the periods pre 1910); and
  • Category:South Africa, Places, Suid-Afrika, Plekke and Category:Zuid-Afrika, Plaatsen (from 1910 onwards)

Historic Places

Historic places have been simplified to broadly define the historic territories, no matter the political domination, with perhaps exception of the Cape, where the Dutch and British Capes are separate [2]:

  • Category:South Africa, Historic Places

The immediate sub-categories to these categories shall be the districts (particularly in the case of the Dutch Cape) or the towns and settlements that evolved in the geographic area during these periods. It is important that the category is clearly date defined to prevent confusion.

South African Places

Ideally, the categorization of South African places should be a single entity running from 1910, time of the Union, through the Republic up to 1994 and then into the new South Africa. In 1994 and onward, there has been a significant change in the provincial name structure, and place name changes. It is proposed to have two subdivisions comprising:

  • Category:South Africa, Places
    • Category: South Africa, Provinces 1910-1994
      • Category:Cape Province, South Africa
      • Category:Natal Province, South Africa
      • Category:Orange Free State Province, South Africa
      • Category:Transvaal Province, South Africa
    • Category: South Africa, Provinces post 1994
      • Category:Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
      • Category:Free State Province, South Africa
      • Category:Gauteng Province, South Africa
      • Category:KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa
      • Category:Limpopo Province, South Africa
      • Category:Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
      • Category:North West Province, South Africa
      • Category:Northern Cape Province, South Africa
      • Category:Western Cape Province, South Africa

District and Settlement/Town Naming

Generally, there should only be one category for a district or town in each of the period defined sub-categories. Full use of Category Information Boxes (CIBs) shall be encourage to define bilingual or multilingual names, name changes, and period transitions. In principal, use is made of the town or settlement name in the language it was founded.

Place names need to be structured to ensure there is no ambiguation. Some South African place names on their own can be found in Europe and North America, or even in different South African provinces, although rare. We have Edenberg in Gauteng and in the Free State; Elim in Limpopo and in the Western Cape. A Port Elizabeth may be found in New Jersey; Margate is also found in Kent; there is also a Pretoria in Georgia State USA!

Therefore, categorization of districts and towns should be named in the format [[Category:<district or town>, <province>]]. [4] This naming format (combining town name and province) eliminates duplication. The format applies equally to places using various designations such as city, town, settlement, or village. To use our examples:

  • Category:Edenburg, Gauteng Province
  • Category:Edenburg, Free State Province

Place name categories shall only be created as and when the need for the place category arises. Every category should carry a simple sentence or paragraph outlining the purpose of the category. Your attention is drawn to these Categorisation Guidelines

Visual Overview

South African Regional Structure

Sources and Notes

  1. The Post 1994 period is included for future contingent categorization, but will be immediately deployed to categorize death places and shall also provide a structured to accommodate cemeteries categorization.
  2. This paper outlines the English category version, and shall allow more competent Dutch/Afrikaans speakers to mirror this structure during implementation
  3. 3.0 3.1 The question is raised as to whether the Dutch and British Capes should be merged. There are two reasons not to do so: The SA Roots Project has already defined the difference and the Dutch Cape will be categorized with districts, while the British Cape will be defined with towns and settlements.
  4. Guillemets or angle brackets denote a variable in between the brackets

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Categories: Transvaal pre 1910