Timezone translations

Peter Ilieve peter at aldie.co.uk
Sat Jun 4 11:32:08 UTC 2005

On 4 Jun 2005, at 01:56, Mark Davis wrote:

> BTW, I regenerated the timezone localizations, based on the latest  
> CLDR 1.3
> data. See
> http://www.unicode.org/cldr//data/dropbox/timezones/
> We are still not complete, but are making progress.

Unfortunately, some of the progress is in the wrong direction. :-)

The en_timezones.html file contains this for the UK (Europe/London):

348  United Kingdom  Europe/London  GB-Eire; GB

          generic             standard                 daylight
gmt      GMT-00:00/-01:00    GMT-00:00                GMT-01:00
short    BT                  BST                      BDT
long     British Time        British Standard Time    British  
Daylight Time

The short and long rows are completely wrong. We don't use the name
British Daylight Time or the abbreviation BDT for our daylight saving
time (and we don't use the term daylight saving either). We call
the concept summer time, named British Summer Time, with abbreviation
BST. We use Greenwich Mean Time as the name for our standard time,
abbreviated as GMT. We did use the name British Standard Time for
an ill-fated experiment between 1968 and 1972 where we had the
clocks an hour in advance of GMT all year round. This name was
no doubt chosen so the same BST abbreviation could be used for
what was in effect summer time all year.

The BST abbreviation for standard time is the biggest problem
as it gives the wrong meaning for an abbreviation in common use,
which will only cause confustion.

I've never heard the name British Time used for `generic' time,
whatever that might be; and if you mention BT to the average UK
person they will think of our phone company: British Telecommunications.

Some URLs to back this up:

<http://www.dti.gov.uk/er/bankhol.htm> A UK government site with
bank holiday dates, and Timetable for British Summer Time link near
the bottom.

<http://www.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/nav.00500300f00h> A National Maritime
Museum (home of the Greenwich Observatory) page with a bit about
summer time near the bottom, showing use of GMT and BST.

The second reading debate on a Bill introduced by Lord Tanlaw which
would have made UTC the UK's legal time. The second paragraph of column
965 gives the basis for GMT as the UK's legal time. The Bill failed.

And of course, <http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~jsm28/british-time/>,
Joseph Myers' page with all the gory UK legal detail.

I noticed the BDT abbreviation in the OS X 10.4 (Tiger) Mail program
and submitted a bug report to Apple (4078227). I guess they got
it from this CLDR data.

Where did these names and abbreviations come from? How can they get  

         Peter Ilieve        peter at aldie.co.uk

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