The "Nabatean" Suq at Mamshit-Passover 2013
The “Nabatean” Suq at Mamshit-Passover 2013

We’ve been playing with various GPS programs on our phones in order to see how well they work and over the Passover holiday we drove down to Mamshit National Park, which is just east of Beersheva and not far from HaMakhtesh HaGadol. Mamshit is one of the Nabatean “Spice Route” cities in the Negev, along with Avdat and Shivta, which are about an hour’s drive away.

In Hebrew the site’s name is Mamshit (ממשית), but finding it in Waze proved a bit of a challenge, especially if English is your default language and without a Hebrew keyboard. Place names in English on the map tend to be transliterations from either Hebrew or Arabic rather than their accepted English name. This makes finding them an extra bit of puzzled confusion. I shouldn’t blame Waze, really. It’s a problem that plagues searches in Google Maps as well.

I also have to wonder how well the people who added place names in Waze knew Hebrew, let alone English. Besides the obvious error of “Mamashit” (there is such a word, but not as the name of the Nabatean city), I’ve run into countless instances of addresses such as “Bnei Ephraim” which means “Sons of Ephraim” appearing as Benny Ephraim. Full stop.

Since Waze is a “community driven” (ha!) app, I posted in the Waze local forum about the trouble with English place names. Hopefully it will be addressed.