[tz] Pre-1970 data

Gilmore Davidson gilmoreorless at gmail.com
Tue Nov 9 10:57:43 UTC 2021

> On 6 Nov 2021, at 02:26, Brian Park via tz <tz at iana.org <mailto:tz at iana.org>> wrote:
> Virtual no one in the world thinks of "America" as referring to all of "North America" and "South America".

Building upon what Alois and Clive have said, this is a dubious statement that’s disproven with only a cursory search. This is what Wikipedia[1] currently has to say on the matter, referring to an English-language shift in terminology towards separate “North” and “South” continents:

> This shift did not seem to happen in most other cultural hemispheres on Earth, such as Romance-speaking (including France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Switzerland, and the postcolonial Romance-speaking countries of Latin America and Africa), Germanic (but excluding English) speaking (including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Icelands, Faroe Islands), Baltic-Slavic languages (including Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria) and in many other hemispheres, where America is still considered a continent encompassing the North America and South America subcontinents, as well as Central America.

Would it have been less confusing overall to have used the prefix “Americas/” instead of “America/”? Yes.
But is it completely wrong to use “America” to refer to the entire continental mass? Not at all.
(And should the Wikipedia entry be rewritten to not have a single sentence that's 102 words long? Undoubtedly.)

On a broader note, I’ve seen a few “my opinion is fact” statements fly around on the mailing list lately, from various parties. (I know, I know, “welcome to the internet”.) Normally I let them slide by—I’m far more a casual peruser of this list than an active contributor. But I realised that bold assertions about what people in “other countries” do or do not care about is partly what’s caused this pre-1970 dilemma in the first place.

Obviously we can’t do rigorous information-gathering for every decision about the tzdb structure—the scope is so broad that nothing would ever get resolved. But on the other extreme, if everyone only puts forward unresearched opinions masquerading as facts, then still nothing gets resolved because there’s no compromise.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naming_of_the_Americas <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naming_of_the_Americas>

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