FW: FW: Re: Timezone name translations

Olson, Arthur David (NIH/NCI) [E] olsona at dc37a.nci.nih.gov
Thu Dec 8 15:33:03 UTC 2005

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Davis [mailto:mark.davis at icu-project.org] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2005 1:05 PM
To: Arthur David Olson
Cc: tz at lecserver.nci.nih.gov
Subject: Re: FW: Re: Timezone name translations

Addressing the message:

I would recommend using the TZIDs as is -- not try to invent new ones.

You mention stability as being a concern: what we do in CLDR is to
canonicalize the TZIDs for translation by choosing a particular one out
of all the equivalent names (a choice we guarantee to be stable).

Translating all of the TZIDs for all the languages is onerous, so for
the zone identifiers in countries that only have a single zone, we
leverage the country translations that we already have. We then can
prioritize the translation of TZIDs that are in multizone countries. 
This information is then used in formatting the names, as per the


(This is the working draft of the next version, so modified text is in

As an example of the data, see the translations in

Search for <territories> to see the translated country names.
Search for <timeZoneNames> to see the translations for multizone
countries (or particular other cases).


P.S. The abbreviations are ambiguous -- and not readily translated
without introducing even further ambiguities -- so I would not recommend
them for translation.

Arthur David Olson wrote:

>This message failed to make it out to the list.
>				--ado
>From: Chuck Soper [chucks2 at veladg.com]
>At 8:01 PM +0700 12/3/05, Stuart Bishop wrote:
>>Paul Eggert wrote:
>> > One problem with gettext format is that there might be multiple  >
>>translations for the same English-language abbreviation.  For example,
>>> "IST" is short for either Israel Standard Time or for India Standard

>>>Time, and it's possible that the acronyms in (say) Russian would be 
>>>different.  Hence gettext("IST") might not work as the user would 
>>>expect, in a Russian locale.
>>This is a problem even without localization. But I won't be tackling 
>>abbreviations anyway - it would involve first mapping and translating 
>>each historical period in each timezone to an English sentence to cope

>>with the duplicate abbreviations and the patalogical cases like 
>>Australian Eastern Standard Time and Australian Eastern Daylight 
>>Savings Time (still breaking code to this day).
>I'm interested in the display of time zone names both in English and
localized. It seems like trying to provide a time zone name for each
tzID (std/dst) might be fairly laborious because there are almost 400
tzIDs (in the zone.tab file). I'm considering building a time zone name
table based time on abbreviations and UTC offsets. Each row in the table
could have a tz abbreviation, a UTC offset and a time zone name. For
example, one row could contain CET, UTC+1 and 'Central European Standard
Time'. There are 34 tzIDs that use CET at UTC+1 during some time of the
year. Instead of trying to maintain 34 tz names for 34 tzIDs why not
maintain one tz name for an abbreviation and a UTC offset? Another
example is Argentina. Doesn't Argentina have two tz names for its 10
tzIDs? For localized tz names, additional tables would be created.
>I understand that an abbreviation by itself is not unique (e.g. IST,
EST, etc.), but the combination of an abbreviation and a UTC offset
might be unique. Does anyone know if the abbreviation/UTC offset
combination is unique? Clearly, tzIDs are unique, but they're not very
stable and there are a lot of them.
>I believe that the abbreviation/UTC offset combination actually holds
more information than a tzID. For example, PWT/UTC-7 (during World War
II) could display Pacific War Time. The tzID by itself does not contain
that information. Also, using only the tzID might produce some unneeded
names if names are created tzID/dst combinations that do not exist.
>I'm interested to find out if people think this approach might be
effective for building and maintaining a list of time zone names.

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