I spent some time recently restoring a cartography side project that I’d been working on prior to reemployment.
The idea is that it shows the native-language place name, and then allows a choice of localized name.
This stems from a pet peeve of mine, that we call places names other than what the natives do (e.g., “Germany” is actually “Deutschland”). Carrying this all the way through creates some challenges, esp. around demonyms (e.g., it sounds weird to say “I want to eat some Deutschlander sausages”).
This is a very rough draft and there are some known issues: Major city names are not showing in their native language until you get to lower zoom levels, right-to-left localizations are carrying their enclosing parenthetical to the left, etc.
Next steps would be to include a phonetic rendering of native place names, transliterations for non-latin alphabets, and then a sound file for each, allowing users to hear a natively-pronounced version of the place name.
March 13 Update: Unfortunately, the platform on which this had been based, Mapzen, ceased operations as of February 1. I’ve posted an older draft, built on top of Mapbox, here. This version doesn’t have the logic to suppress redundant translations, so you’ll get cases like “United Kingdom (United Kingdom)”. Work in progress…