Naming Places/Features on Google Maps

Google Maps must engage in a cross-cultural (and often cross-lingual) act to publish its maps. Each place or feature name can be given in multiple languages, and occasionally as NPR’s On the Media discusses, cultures don’t agree on the name of a shared feature.

I’ve been aware of differing names for some features, such as the Bay of California vs. Sea of Cortez and the Faukland Islands vs. Las Malvinas. However, the difficulty of even constructing one world map upon which multiple cultures can agree is amazing. The NPR story is a good listen or read for those interested.

Google must pick a name (or list multiple names) when naming these locations. Google is able to name features differently on different language versions. Thus, the maps of China on google.cn has an slightly wider more definite reach than the google.com version, which has a dashed border that doesn’t make it clear whether Arunachal Pradesh is part of India or China.

Google.cn

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Google.com

View Larger Map

NPR On the Media
http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2010/07/23/04

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2 Responses to Naming Places/Features on Google Maps

  1. Pingback: Japan/China crosslinks on- and off-line | Net Increase?

  2. Scott says:

    Interesting story about this very issue in Latin America.

    Troops Move To Latin American Border. Google Maps Cited As The Reason.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/11/08/131161323/troops-move-to-latin-american-border-google-maps-cited-as-the-reason

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