Daylights savings time part 3 is the final blog of the three on this topic. The final one for the time being, I promise.

     The two previous blogs on this topic should have given you the impression that messing with time usually creates more problems than it solves. If you look at the differences across borders, and even within borders, it’s a miracle anything arrives on time during the various transitions from standard time to daylight saving time and back.

     It’s bad enough trying to figure out when “am” starts and when “pm” stops. I remember, many years ago, showing up for flight that was scheduled to leave at 12:20am on a certain date…I arrived a day late, thinking 12:20 on that date was close to midnight on that day instead of close to midnight the day before. That doesn’t sound like a big deal until I tell you that the flight was from Nairobi to Zurich, connecting to London, New York and San Juan. Fortunately the lady on the British Airways deck in Nairobi told me that my mistake happened all the time, and she quickly fixed it. She said the BA staff in Nairobi had recommended for years that the departure time be changed, to no avail.

     Back to daylight savings time part 3.

     The current momentum seems to be to eliminate daylight savings since it doesn’t seem to have much impact on the work day or the economy. It only seems to work well in confusing people.

     Even trying to define the words can create problems.

As explained by Richard Meade in the English Journal of the American National Council of Teachers of English, the form Daylight Savings Time (with an “s”) was already, in 1978, in much more common use than the older form Daylight Saving Time (no “s”) in American English. Nevertheless, even dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster’s, American Heritage, and Oxford, which describe actual usage as well as outdated usage, still list the older form first. This is because the older form is still very common in print and is preferred by many editors. 

     The first two words are sometimes hyphenated (daylight-saving(s) time). Merriam-Webster’s also lists the forms daylight saving (without “time”), daylight savings (without “time”), and daylight time. The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style explains the development and current situation as follows: “Although the singular form daylight saving time is the original one, dating from the early 20th century, and is preferred by some usage critics, the plural form is now extremely common in American English. The rise of daylight savings time appears to have resulted from the avoidance of a miscue: when saving is used, readers might puzzle momentarily over whether saving is a gerund (the saving of daylight) or a participle (the time for saving). Using savings as the adjective—as in savings/saving account.

     In Britain, Willett’s 1907 proposal used the term daylight saving, but by 1911 the term summer time replaced daylight saving time in draft legislation. The same or similar expressions are used in many other languages: Sommerzeit in German, zomertijd in Dutch, kesäaika in Finnish, horario de verano or hora de verano in Spanish, and heure d’été in French.

The name of local time typically changes when DST is observed. American English replaces standard with daylight: for example, Pacific Standard Time (PST) becomes Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). In the United Kingdom, the standard term for UK time when advanced by one hour is British Summer Time (BST), and British English typically inserts summer into other time zone names, e.g. Central European Time (CET) becomes Central European Summer Time (CEST). The North American English mnemonic “spring forward, fall back” (also “spring ahead …”, “spring up …”, and “… fall behind”) helps people remember in which direction to shift the clocks…..maybe!

     I think it’s time to make life easier and for the world to decide what time it wants to be on, in a logical way, and stick to it.

     It’s also time to stop this diatribe before I create even more confusion. Daylight savings time part 3 will be my last word….maybe.

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