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[Bug localedata/773] de_DE locale should use ISO date format according to national standards

------- Additional Comments From acolomb at schickhardt dot org  2007-04-15 23:34 -------
I agree with Julian on this. "colloquial" as defined by refers to something
1.  Characteristic of or appropriate to the spoken language or to writing that
seeks the effect of speech; informal.
2. Relating to conversation; conversational.

Ulrich is right, nobody uses the new standard format in conversation. But that
is not what standards are made for. Informal speech or text can still use the
descriptive format like "16. April 2007", which is exactly how the date is
pronounced in German speech (where 16. is spoken as the ordinal number
"sechzehnter"). I think any standard you can find out there does not try to
regulate people's everyday life, but formal communication among them. Computers
(and especially applications where date representation is important) are
typically used in formal (legal and business) environments. So this is exactly
the area the standards were designed for. Especially this standard tries to
ensure comformance among several countries in a globally communicating world, so
that everyone knows how to read what someone else meant to say. In my opinion,
the locale definitions in a computer operating system should reflect these
standards that people should have learned in school instead of what they use
(wrongfully) when jotting notes in their calendar.

For the new format itself, it is also more logical (most significant number
first as in the underlying arabic number system), but this argument is probably
not in the scope of this bug. It has already been decided by an international

The fact that not many people are using the new standard format (after ten
years) should not be a reason not to implement it. Any German native-speaker is
probably aware of the confusion about the new spelling rules in Germany. After
several revisions, I estimate that less people in Germany know the German
spelling rules than those who know how to write the date correctly. Now, was
that a reason for any software project not to accept the new rules and issue
different word lists for new and old (where nobody knows what "old" currently
means) German spelling?

About Ulrich's statement that the ISO 8601 format is available through other
means: I am aware that some people use the en_DK locale for the time and date
locale setting to get ISO 8601 compliance (btw. what do the English language and
Denmark have to do with German date formats?). I have not yet found a consistent
way to even set my locale preferences from my user profile when accessing
different hosts on which I do not have administrator access to change the
system-wide default configuration. If you have any idea about that, please tell
me (I am not using any desktop environment like KDE, GNOME).

To see whether people are frustrated by their dates appearing differently, I
would suggest distributing a second locale with the correct date formats. Btw:
Wasn't that also a "<rant> just another act of bureaucracy that institution is
so notorious for.  </rant>" (from debian-l10n-german mailing list)? Yet another
issue that was not gladly accepted by the public but instantly got focus from
software maintainers--because it was the new standard.

Please reconsider your decision about this change. I hope this post will not
start a flame war, and I apologize if some of my arguments are a little
sarcastic. Just wanted to make my point clear. Will we have to wait for the
Microsoft Corporation to be the first to implement such a little change with
such a big impact, again? :-)

Kind regards,


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