Here comes a simple straightforward question.

In English, should river names be spelled "Danube River", "Elbe River", "River Thames" etc, or just plain Volga, Rhine, Mississipi and so on? Is there any agreed rule on this?

I realize this is a fundamental thing that has probably been around since day one on OSM, but searching gives no definite answer. It seems to me the recommendation is to use a "River" suffix or prefix, but in reality most rivers are tagged without.

Thinking of it, I realize in some cases the "River" prefix is probably useful, like The Congo River. But it seems to me one could do without when not necessary?

asked 24 Apr '14, 22:35

Maxmeles's gravatar image

Maxmeles
56336
accept rate: 0%


The following answer relates particularly to the UK but the principle should be applicable elsewhere.

Not all British rivers are called "River...". Yes, many of the best known ones are: River Thames, River Severn, River Mersey, River Great Ouse. However, many rivers have other prefixes or suffixes:

  • Water - Blackadder Water, Ettrick Water, Water of Leith etc. (mostly Scotland)
  • Burn - Bannock Burn etc. (also mostly Scotland)
  • Beck - Trout Beck, Haweswater Beck etc. (mostly Cumbria)
  • Gill - (also mostly Cumbria)
  • Brook - Savick Brook, Dick Brook etc. (all across Britain)
  • River as a suffix - East Lyn River, West Lyn River, Helford River etc.
  • Creek - Barking Creek, etc.

and so on. It would be incorrect to prefix these with River: there is no such waterway as the "River Savick Brook", for example.

Consequently, it's necessary to tag those rivers which start with "River..." with the full name of the river - otherwise you won't know when you can/should add "River", and when not.

name=River Thames
name=East Lyn River
name=Savick Brook
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answered 24 Apr '14, 23:06

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
27.6k40244366
accept rate: 19%

edited 24 Apr '14, 23:07

Thank you. Well that's the case in Britain then, where English is the official language. What I was thinking of was more what might be the case in other countries where the English name of the river is not the original, local one?

Maybe the answer could be that it's like in your British example above, that there are different agreed upon names for each river?

(24 Apr '14, 23:13) Maxmeles
1

Each river generally has an officially-recognized name. For example, "Amazon River", "Mississippi River", "River Thames", etc. That official name is the one that should be used. It's analogous to the way roads are named. You wouldn't tag the name of a road as "Main". You'd tag it with "Main Street", or whatever the full official name is.

(25 Apr '14, 00:21) alester
3

I think it depends on the river in question.

The River Thames, or River Severn are correct, that is how they the referred to normally. But The Rhine, is never refered to the as the River Rhine, it is just The Rhine as is La Loire (in English The Loire). Again The Amazon, The Mississippi.

(25 Apr '14, 14:17) trig222

River Avon translates as River River, Avon being the ancient British word for river. It survives as afon in Welsh.

(25 Apr '14, 19:50) trig222
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question asked: 24 Apr '14, 22:35

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last updated: 25 Apr '14, 19:50

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