Mystery month

Americans like to do things their own way. Forget the rest of the world. I blogged already about the American way of telling time. Well, Americans also like to do dates their own way. A fish doesn’t know the water, so yet again this is something I wasn’t even aware of until I moved abroad.

American children are taught to write dates in a month / day / year order. And generally children do what they’re told (and then they grow up into adults). Well, it turns out in classrooms in many other countries in the world (including the Canada and the UK), children are instead instructed to write dates in a day / month / year order. WHOA.

This leads to a lot of confusion. Think about it. What is 06/10/2013? Is that June 10, 2013? Or October 6, 2013? Well, the answer is, it depends – on where you are. This initially wreaked havoc on my personal filing system and records. Because, over time, I subconsciously migrated from writing dates in the US date format to writing dates in the British date format. So, when I saw a date written in my own hand, I wasn’t even sure which system I had used. D’oh.

Eventually I got into the habit of writing out the dates completely, as the French do, with the day and month clearly enumerated as such: 8 avril 2013 (or 8-April-13 or April 8, 2013). Yes, it’s longer to write out, but it saves you time down the road when you’re trying to figure out whether those accounting records you meticulously kept for yourself mean that you bought the stock on January 11, 2009 or November 1, 2009.

To confuse matters further, other countries follow  a year / month / day format (2009/11/1). If you think about it, the American system makes the least sense of all of them, because the units are neither in descending nor ascending order. But, I learned long ago to stop trying to apply logic to many things.

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1 Comment

Filed under Communications, Practicalities

One response to “Mystery month

  1. Pingback: Street wise, number wise | Home Strange Home

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