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glaring bug: am_pm should not be blank in en_AU

From: matthew arnison
Subject: glaring bug: am_pm should not be blank in en_AU
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 14:26:30 +1000 (EST)


I recently tracked down a strange am/pm display bug to the en_AU (English,
Australian) locale on my Debian system. I have glibc 2.2.5 installed
(debian package libc6 2.2.5-6).

I was trying to display am/pm after the time in my taskbar clock, in
icewm. I couldn't get it to work, quite frustrating. Then I tried this:

address@hidden:~$ LANG=en_AU; date +"%r"
address@hidden:~$ LANG=en_US; date +"%r"
02:08:35 PM

So the reason icewm wasn't displaying am/pm, is because it uses strftime
format strings, and my locale is set to en_AU, which leaves the am_pm
stuff blank.

This bug report shows that strange side-effects can show up in other apps


But this is a problem for many English locales:

address@hidden:/usr/share/i18n/locales$ grep am_pm en_*
en_AU:am_pm    "";""
en_CA:am_pm    "<U0041><U004D>";"<U0050><U004D>"
en_DK:am_pm    "";""
en_GB:am_pm    "";""
en_HK:am_pm    "<U0041><U004D>";"<U0050><U004D>"
en_IE:am_pm    "";""
en_IN:am_pm    "<U0041><U004D>";"<U0050><U004D>"
en_NZ:am_pm    "";""
en_PH:am_pm    "<U0041><U004D>";"<U0050><U004D>"
en_SG:am_pm    "<U0041><U004D>";"<U0050><U004D>"
en_US:am_pm    "";""
en_US:am_pm    "<U0041><U004D>";"<U0050><U004D>"
en_ZA:am_pm    "";""

I did a net search and found this bug has been reported before:


So, I would like to add my vote to have atleast the Australian locale
changed to match the US one for the am_pm fields.

am/pm is certainly in very common usage in Australia (much more common
than 24 hour format, which confuses most people here). I can provide reams
of documentation of Australian usage of am/pm if you would like. Here is
just one example, from the national government broadcaster:


"LEAD STORY. Wed, Jun 19 2002 1:31 PM AEST"

In addition, applications which assume the existance of am/pm (because
they are programmed in a locale which has it) may give very confusing,
awkward and often undocumented behaviour when the locale is changed. For
example, icewm, date, jpilot, and I think I have seen this behaviour
elsewhere too, maybe gnumeric. For the jpilot case, the user in an en_GB
could not set appointments to be in the morning or afternoon when using 12
hour time display, because the am/pm widget was simply blank.

I can't speak for the British, but my experience of that country and its
media is that they too would normally expect to have am/pm on 12 hour

I actually don't see the point of even having a 12 hour time display
without the option to display am/pm. It's oddly ambiguous for the product
of software engineers.

While you're at it, it would be good to fix the ampm field too:

address@hidden:/usr/share/i18n/locales$ grep ampm en_*
en_AU:t_fmt_ampm  ""
en_DK:t_fmt_ampm  ""
en_GB:t_fmt_ampm  ""
en_IE:t_fmt_ampm  ""
en_NZ:t_fmt_ampm  ""
en_ZA:t_fmt_ampm  ""

I could supply a patch if you want, but it's a very trivial change. Please
do it, and increase the sanity of the defaults.

Thanks for your work on glibc.

matthew arnison | address@hidden

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