Re: CLDR Usage of Gregorian Calendar Era Terms: BC and AD -- Can we please have "CE" and "BCE" ?

From: Ed Trager (
Date: Wed Dec 19 2007 - 11:12:58 CST

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: CLDR Usage of Gregorian Calendar Era Terms: BC and AD -- Can we please have "CE" and "BCE" ?"

    Also, I am very interested in seeing what people on this list consider
    as appropriate translations and corresponding abbreviations for
    "Common Era" and "Before Common Era" for various languages ...

    On Dec 19, 2007 12:01 PM, Ed Trager <> wrote:
    > Hi, everyone,
    > For the Gregorian calendar in CLDR, two --and as far as I am aware
    > only two-- era terms are defined:
    > BC - "Before Christ"
    > AD - Anno Domini (="year of the lord")
    > Is it really the case that these are the only two era terms available in CLDR?
    > While these two era terms quite naturally arose from the fact that the
    > Gregorian calendar was promulgated by the Christian church, many
    > --myself included-- will now argue that these two terms should be
    > supplanted by the completely secular terms, "CE - Common Era" and "BCE
    > - Before Common Era".
    > While there are many grounds on which one can argue in favor of "CE"
    > and "BCE" over the traditional "AD" and "BC", perhaps the simplest and
    > least divisive is the simple fact that the two terms "BC" and "AD" are
    > not accurate, since most religious historians now believe that Jesus
    > of Nazareth was born sometime between 7 and 4 BCE.
    > Given the now world-wide use of the Gregorian Calendar as a secular
    > standard for measuring dates in every realm of endeavor beyond the
    > Church, it seems uncharacteristically anachronistic that the CLDR
    > defines only these two era terms:
    > => At the very least, these two terms need to be supplanted by the
    > modern, secular terms, "CE - Common Era" and "BCE - Before Common Era"
    > This should be done immediately.
    > => In the very best case, the anachronistic terms "BC" and "AD"
    > could be removed from CLDR altogether.
    > However, I --and I am sure many of you also-- realize that it may be
    > too much to ask for the outright removal of the anachronistic terms
    > "BC" and "AD". So rather than argue about removal of "BC" and "AD",
    > can we at least all agree that "CE" and "BCE" need to be added to CLDR
    > as soon as possible?
    > Note that in some locales, use of "Common Era" and "Before Common Era"
    > is already well established. For example, the Chinese already use the
    > term "公元" which means "common era" and "公元前" which means "before
    > common era". So, for the "zh" Chinese locales, we may conclude that
    > the "values" are already correct, but the "keys" are wrong. However,
    > in many other locales, translations of --or customary equivalents
    > for-- "BC" and "AD" naturally enough continue to reference the birth
    > of Jesus of Nazareth.
    > The addition of "CE" and "BCE" to CLDR will greatly facilitate the
    > efforts of localization specialists who wish to produce localized
    > software and electronic services for the widest possible audiences
    > without having to worry about offending anyone whose religious beliefs
    > and preferences may differ from those which have been traditionally
    > dominant in the Western world.
    > Best - Ed

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