IATE Term of the Week: Daylight Saving Time


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Every March and October comes the time where we ask ourselves confused: Do we set the clock one hour back or one hour forward. Fortunately, blogs, newspapers, radio stations and TV news always inform us anew what to do, when it is time for the transition from and to daylight saving time. In all of the three time zones in the European Union, the clocks are set one hour forward every spring and one hour back every fall. In 1996, all EU States adopted daylight saving time with the aim to “extend” daylight and consequently save energy.

On the one hand, daylight saving time provides us with more time to spend long mild summer evenings with friends and family. It also lets us enjoy month of more sun, which is conducive, for example, for the overall well-being and mental health. On the other hand, it does not meet the set goal to save energy. Admittedly, people do not switch on the lights as often in the evenings in summer, but then again they turn on their heaters earlier in the morning in fall and spring. Therefore, there is no advantage due to energy saving as the consumption is balanced out.

IATE daylight saving timePeople still have not really gotten used to the transition practice. Farmers criticise the whole concept of daylight saving time, because the time shift twice a year apparently has a negative effect on their livestock. In addition, sensitive people complain that they are constantly tired during the day and lie awake at night after the time shift and struggle for days to get back into their routines. Studies have also shown that during the transition there is a higher risk for heart attacks and accidents.

These controversies are the reason why the European Union wants a special commission to reconsider the advantages and disadvantages of the daylight saving time. As part of this reconsideration, the EU asked their citizens for their opinion. From the 4th of July to the 16th of August, people could fill in an online questionnaire about the daylight saving time. The EU was interested, for example, in the individual experiences during the transition period. The response was overwhelming. Only in the first three days over 500 000 online forms were filled in. Even if the commission decides that the daylight saving time is obsolete, after considering the questionnaires and all the other facts, the European Parliament and the EU States still need to vote on it and approve. Until then, we are kept in suspense.

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Blakemore, E. (2018, March 09). The Strange 100-Year History of Daylight Saving Time. Retrieved August 17, 2018, from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/daylight-savings-time-arizona-florida-spring-forward-science/

Seidler, C. (2018, August 16). EU-Umfrage zur Zeitumstellung: Wird die Sommerzeit jetzt abgeschafft? Retrieved August 17, 2018, from http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/zeitumstellung-sommerzeit-fuer-immer-infos-zur-eu-umfrage-a-1223494.html

Seidler, C. (2018, August 16). Noch schnell abstimmen: EU-Umfrage zur Zeitumstellung endet – SPIEGEL ONLINE – Wissenschaft. Retrieved August 17, 2018, from http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/sommerzeit-winterzeit-eu-umfrage-zur-zeitumstellung-endet-a-1223406.html

Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.