Timezone naming

Markus G. Kuhn kuhn at cs.purdue.edu
Tue Nov 26 21:08:55 UTC 1996

In message <199611260904.KAA10440 at uriah.heep.sax.de>, J Wunsch wrote:

> You'll say ``Argh!'' now, i know.
> After a long and heated discussion in the , we came
> to the conclusion that changing the timezone name for Central Europe
> from MET to CET is a very bad move.

Argh! :-)

  - According to my Langenscheidt Englisch-Deutsch Woerterbuch (a very
    popular German-English dictionary) MEZ is translated into English
    as CET and MESZ is translated into CEST.

  - Several other German-English dictionaries that I checked agree.

  - English geography textbooks call the area in which Germany and its
    neighbors are located "Central Europe" and almost never "Middle

  - The head of the PTB time department (German government timekeeping
    lab) confirmed to me that CET/CEST is the common usage.

  - CET clearly dominates MET by a factor >10 in the media. For example
    just have a look at European satellite TV schedules on videotext. Just
    do a Web search: When you see MET, then this is almost exclusively an
    output of the Unix "date" command, i.e. someone didn't care about the
    abbreviation at all when this was written.

  - I hardly ever have seen MET and METDST used anywhere outside the Unix
    world and we can very well assume that MET is today only known because it
    somehow found its way into the Olson database some time ago. DST is an
    abbreviation exclusively used in the U.S., most other countries
    say "summer time".

Please forward this list of arguments to the other members of the
FreeBSD core team to allow them to benefit from the research that
others and I have done on this subject before the tz databse was
changed and to allow interested people to base future "long and heated
discussions" on some more real world evidence and not just on what
Unix geeks are used to know about the real world.

> The reasoning: the name MET is in widespread use here on almost all
> Unix systems around.

Just because the tz database is in widespread use on almost all Unix systems
around. As you can read in any statistics textbook: Before you draw
conclusions form correlations, you must eliminate common causes.

> (With AIX being the most noteworthy and most
> funny exception; they call it ``Norway-France-Time'', NFT. :)

Oops ... well, what else would you ecpect from AIX ... ;-)

> technically correct your choice for CET might be, it breaks tradition,
> and is in general something people here will consider a ``US-centric''
> decision.

The main arguments for the MET->CET came from people in France and
Germany. Calling the discussion for the MET->CET change "US-centric"
certainly lacks any basis.


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Science grad student, Purdue
University, Indiana, USA -- email: kuhn at cs.purdue.edu

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