[tz] Definition of "timezone"

Dale Ghent daleg at elemental.org
Fri Dec 22 00:07:09 UTC 2023

> On Dec 21, 2023, at 18:20, Guy Harris <gharris at sonic.net> wrote:
> On Dec 21, 2023, at 3:12 PM, Dale Ghent via tz <tz at iana.org> wrote:
>> Because of those innately human and arbitrary differences, I've always wondered if the TZDB should be thought of more as a "time locale database." This is borrowing a concept from the internationalization and localization (i18n, i10n) systems in computing that exist to address another innately human thing - language. I feel like use of "locale" to describe these entries in the TZDB (TLDB?) better-conveys the local and morphing nature of a given area's sense of time, kind of like how language is thought of, I guess?
> As long as people realize that these locales are not equivalent to i18n/l10n locales; a given timezone (using Paul's terminology) may contain multiple i18n/l10n locales (e.g., America/Toronto has both en_CA and fr_CA locales, at minimum) and a given i18n/l10n locale may contain multiple timezones (en_US has several of them, as does pt_BR, for example).

Oh, in no way did I suggest that time?zones be directly linked to language or geographic i18n/i10n locales. I am just borrowing the term those systems use to describe their application and suggesting that "locale" may also have a more apropos meaning here, compared to "zone." It would be a stark differentiator to denote an important difference between the large and faceless Standard Time Zones, and the more local, arbitrary, ever-morphing and, some might say, human locale-specific rules that convey time. It removes the ambiguity of "timezone" and "time zone", two terms that lose all distinction in conversation and (probably) also in translation. That token bit of whitespace jammed (or removed from) between the words isn't very portable, let alone an obvious cue to most. IMO, the distinction between "timezone" and "time zone" doesn't have much reach beyond this mailing list.

Anyway, I don't want to start or sustain a debate over whether anyone should drop everything and rename this entire thing. The philosophy of time?zones interest me and I enjoy the discussions here that involve history, politics, and other aspects of making time what it is and was.



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