H.I. Hargitai1, Sz. Berczi1, B. Kereszturi1, E. Illes2

1 - Eotvos Lorand University, Dept. of Physical geography, Budapest, Hungary

2 - Konkoly Observatory of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences H-1525 Budapest



The Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature maintained by USGS Astrogeology Research Program includes all geographic names given by the IAU WGPS. The system uses Latin descriptor terms and multilingual specifics. Although the system is considered to be neutral and international, it necessarily follows the orthography and transcription/transliteration rules of English. Its main characteristic is that binominal names are written separately and with an initial capital letter. These names are considered to be official, but in fact, no such status exist on other planets, neither linguistically nor politically. This also leads to the fact that most names are neither exonimes or endonimes. (The exceptions are names given by astronauts of geologists in the field).

Using these names as part of a not-English text, several problems arise. In the case of languages that use a non-latin alphabet, the first question is whether to maintain the original latin forms or transliterate/transcribe it to the target alphabet. The second question is about the translation of descriptor terms, as it is a common practice for terrestrial geographic names; and the last one is about the translation of the specific part, or rather, finding the local version for the same specific, going back to the source: for Copernicus (person), or the Carpathians (mountain), we can find a local version of these names.

The simplest decision is to maintain the original Latin version: in this case we would consider this binominal name as the only possible form. This fits the needs of the scientific community using English, but conflicts traditions, orthography etc. in the case of other languages. In Hungarian, geographic names are written using hyphen and lowercase descriptor term: Atlanti-óceán.

Another decision would be to keep the specific part unchanged and translate the descriptor term. In this case we consider the specific part a kind of label (with indifferent meaning). Some languages are more equal than others (see Danube Planum [Io]). The meaning of such names are transparent for the English readers, but are opaqe (unknown) for the others. Latin descriptors are also opaq in most languages (except for Neolatin languages).

Such questions arose when an international cartographic project, lead by Eötvös University, Hungary, has started to produce multilingual planetary maps. Our current work now is to localize the planetary nomenclature (especially descriptor terms) for Hungarian. We try to disseminate our system by using it in all our Hungarian language publications (maps, professional and public outreach publications).