Alternative place names

Paul Eggert eggert at
Wed Sep 27 20:35:08 UTC 2000

"Gwillim Law" <gwil at> writes:

> I hope we'll resist making frequent changes to the zone names.
> Please remember that every change has a cost.  In this case, there's
> the labor of updating databases, resource files, source code, etc.

Yes.  For the two proposed changes Asia/Ashkhabad -> Asia/Ashgabat and
Asia/Thimbu -> Asia/Thimphu, we'd definitely add entries to the
"backward" file, so that any existing users could continue to use the
old names.

> Do not change established names unless they become ambiguous or shockingly
> incorrect.

That is a pretty conservative rule.  I think I'm a bit more liberal,
at least for names that are rarely used.  I'd be somewhat surprised if
anyone is currently using either of the two names in question as a TZ
string.  (Thimphu has 20,000 people and no stoplights.  :-)

The "backward" file let us survive the Great Renaming of 1993
(e.g. "US/Eastern" -> "America/New_York") with little problem, so I'm
not to worried about renaming Thimbu.

Also, a problem with this rule is that it's hard to define "shockingly
incorrect" without going into politics.  For example, if we had
established the tz database in 1940 and had needed an entry for
Asia/Peiping, would that name be "shockingly incorrect" by now?  The
name "Peiping" implies that Beijing is not the capital of China, and
that would probably shock most Chinese; but it wouldn't shock most
English-speakers because they don't have a feel for the Chinese
etymology.  This is an extreme case, but I hope you see what I mean.

How about the following more liberal rules instead?

	Do not change established names if they only marginally
		violate the above rules.  For example, don't change
		the existing name `Rome' to `Milan' merely because
		Milan's population has grown to be somewhat greater
		than Rome's.
	If a name is changed, put its old spelling in the `backward' file.

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