[tz] [PATCH 0/2] Follow Australian common usage and update CST/CST to CST/CDT and EST/EST to EST/EDT etc [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Peter Stagg P.Stagg at bom.gov.au
Thu Apr 11 02:04:28 UTC 2013

I would like to offer (again) the following evidence in support of Timothy's request for a patch to eliminate the ambiguous time zone abbreviations from the TZ Database.

The assertion from John Mackin that "We in Australia have _never_ referred to DST as `daylight' time." is patently untrue - the video from four corners (posted previously - see below) is clear evidence that the term is used and has been in use since well before John Mackin's statement from 1991.

Language is a living thing it changes and evolves over time so it is possible that in 1991 "summer time" was in vogue. It is also possible that John Mackin comes from the culture of British migrants that may well have used this term due to their British heritage. Either way the Google searches of government web sites show that the phrase "daylight saving" is used, formally, more frequently then "summer time".

There are many problems with searching the broader context of .au web sites for frequency of use of "EST" vs. "EDT" and "summer time" vs. "daylight saving":

"EST" vs. "EDT"

Only tree of the four states in the "Eastern Standard Timezone" have daylight savings and they only have it for aprox. four of the twelve months in the year. And as someone pointed out before many web sites unwittingly use the TZ Database data to automatically timestamp pages. So the frequency of  use of "EST" is destined to be much higher then "EDT" and therefore the search is meaningless.

"summer time" vs. "daylight saving"

"daylight saving" has, pretty much, one unambiguous meaning where as "summer time" (summertime) has so many that have nothing what so ever to do with "daylight saving":

- "Summertime" is an aria composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess.
- Summertime is a 1955 American/British Technicolor drama film directed by David Lean
- May refer to "British summer time"; given Australia's long association with the mother country old newspapers etc. online often refer to "British summer time"
- It may refer to (as it does in many countries) the *seasonal* time of summer as in "summer time and the living is easy".

As evidence of this I searched Trove (the National Library of Australia's online collection of digitised Newspapers etc.) <http://trove.nla.gov.au> for these phrases separately "EST", "EDT", "summer time" and "daylight saving". I searched only Australian content and only the Digitised newspapers section, the results were as follows:

"EST" = 2,049,093
"EDT" = 27,401
"Summer time" = 55,120
"daylight saving" = 11,960

The only one of these which returns relatively unambiguous results is "daylight saving" and here is why:

The first full page of the search for "EST" does not contain a single reference to time. "EST" (Est.) is a very commonly used abbreviation for Established for one thing.

"EDT" is just as ambiguous.

"daylight saving", is much less ambiguous all-though searching for it will return the likes of "Nothing but fair weather and daylight saved". The earliest use of the term (we never use) is in 1908 referring to the "Daylight Saving Bill" it is referred to in more than a dozen daily newspapers of the time.

"Mr. Robert Pearce, tbe member for the Leek division of Staffordshire, is a humorist. To the intense amusement of the House the other day he gravely introducedva measure called the "Daylight_ Saving Bill," by which he proposes, bv an ingenious juggling with' the hoursof the clock, to actually give us more daylight! Mr. Pcarce's project is on the first four Sundays in April to put on the clock 20 minutes between 2 a.m. and 3 p.m., each hour, therefore consisting of only 40 minutes. Similarly it is propo^d in September that the same hour in the morning should consist of 80 minutes. The annual gain of daylight Mr. Pearce esti-mates at 210 hours." [sic.]

"Summer time" very rarely refers to Australian "daylight saving time" as can be seen from a selection of results from the first page of the search...

    Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954) Sunday 2 November 1947 p 2 Article
    ... Summertime LONDON, Sat: British summertime time ends tomorrow, when G.M.T. will be restored. Change officially occurs at 3.30 a.m.


    The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950) Saturday 22 August 1936 Edition: GOLDFIELDS EDITION p 16 Article
    ... Summertime Summertime is coming near; I heard a blowfly yesterday. Mosquitoes buzzing here and there Are signs that summer's on the way. People talk about the flowers In bloom, and skies of azure blue. I can tell that winter's hours Are few another way, can't you? Winter jumpers are not seen So ...


    Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954) Saturday 24 February 1917 Edition: DAILY p 7 Article
    ... SUMMER TIME. It is understood that the Government will introduce summer time to operate between April 8 and September 23. ...


Oh. Before you jump on that last one look at the dates then realise that it was in a section of the paper headed "British Parliament."

In conclusion there is little real unambiguous evidence out there that prooves "summer time" is more commonly used in Australia *to refer to* "Daylight Saving(s) Time" than the phrase "Daylight Saving(s) Time". In actual fact there is more evidence to prove the oposite. Formally the majority of Australian government websites refer to "Daylight Saving(s) Time" and this is the part of the TZ Database that we Australian users disagree with and wish to have changed.

search: legislation "standard time" "daylight saving" site:.gov.au
About 25,600 results (0.21 seconds) 

search: legislation "standard time" "summer time" site:.gov.au
About 15,600 results (0.14 seconds)

N.B. ".gov.au" searches all state and federal official sites as they all use this domain. (e.g. Federal = just .gov.au, State i.e. Victoria = .vic.gov.au ).


An interesting video from the 1970's Four Corners program on the ABC (Australia's national broadcaster, ICYDK) on the introduction of "Daylight Saving" in Tasmania. Note the consistent  use of that term "Daylight Saving", "Summer Time" is never mentioned (FYI It's a predominantly British term) and take a look at the flight attendant's bonnet!



Peter Stagg

Web Developer - Radar Systems, AMDIS, +61 3 9669-4232, www.bom.gov.au

Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2013 09:50:04 +1000
From: Timothy Arceri <T.Arceri at bom.gov.au>
Subject: [tz] [PATCH 0/2] Follow Australian common usage and update
To: "'tz at iana.org' (tz at iana.org)" <tz at iana.org>
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The reason for the current situation is documented in the Australasia data file:
>From John Mackin (1991-03-06):
"We in Australia have _never_ referred to DST as `daylight' time. It is called `summer' time.  Now by a happy coincidence, `summer'  and `standard' happen to start with the same letter; hence, the abbreviation does _not_ change..."

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