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Re: Internal inconsistency wrt year 0000

From: C. M. Sperberg-McQueen <cmsmcq@acm.org>
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 07:13:04 -0600
Message-Id: <>
To: "James Clark" <jjc@jclark.com>
Cc: "Ashok Malhotra" <ashokma@microsoft.com>, <www-xml-schema-comments@w3.org>
At 2002-04-25 02:09, James Clark wrote:
>It's not equivocal if you want to allow negative years.  If you allow
>negative years, you have to allow 0.  There is nobody that makes -1
>correspond to 1 BC. WikiPedia isn't authorative but I gave you many
>references and they all support the same conclusion.
>Certainly there is no justification for claiming ISO 8601:2000 is incorrect,
>and thus no chance of ISO 8601:2000 changing to make -1 correspond to 1 BC.
>Surely it is an intolerable situation for both W3C Schema and ISO 8601 to
>allow -0001 but for each to give it a different meaning.

James, are you saying that ISO 8601:2000 makes the rule that any
year before the common era is written not as itself but as its
next neighbor?  The year 1 BCE is written with a 0, the year 2 BCE
is written with a 1, ... the year 46 BCE is written with a '45',
and so on?

That would certainly absolve the ISO spec of the charge that they
had acted in ignorance of the Gregorian calendar.

But it is hardly going to be a usable notation for those most in
need of those dates, is it?  How many classicists are going to be
willing to write the year 46 as '-45'? I agree that discrepancy of
usage is intolerable, but I am not certain it is the Schema WG which
has created it.  We have, by now, four centuries of usage which the
ISO spec appears to have decided should be ignored.  I don't see why
we should follow their lead. Perhaps you can persuade me?  But saying
"everyone" does "negative years" in a particular way seems to me to
be either false (classicists do not write the year 46 BCE using
the string '45') or a category error (the notion of 'negative'
is defined for integers, but not for years), or both.

So can we start this discussion again more calmly?  I am astonished
and outraged at the stupidity, idiocy, and arrogance of the
usage prescribed in ISO 8601:2000, and you are outraged at the
arrogance of XML Schema.  I'll try to keep my outrage in check, if
you'll keep yours in check.  And then we may be able to have a useful

Received on Thursday, 25 April 2002 09:14:53 UTC

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