Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Date Order

As I write this, it is the third of May. Tomorrow morning, at two minutes and three seconds past one in the morning, it will be: 01:02:03 04-05-06. We get to go "ooh" about that because it's such a "rare event". Until the fifth of June next year, when we can look forward to 02:03:04 05-06-07. And so on for the rest of the decade.

Of course, if you use the North American date format (I say North American because I believe that they use it in Canada - please correct me if I am in error), then this "rare event" happened last month, because 04-05-06 would have been the fifth of April to you, rather than the fourth of May, as it is to me. Apart from the additional fun of being able to say "May the fourth be with you", there isn't a lot to recommend one date format over the other in this specific context.

However, as a general rule, I'm not very fond of MM-DD-YY. If offends my sense of logic and order. It makes no sense. For a start, I always use a four digit year these days, having spent all that time and effort in the run-up to the millennium making sure the world didn't come to an abrupt end. That gripe aside, it makes so much sense to me to put DD-MM-YYYY, going from the most granular level of detail to the most general. I'm also very comfortable with YYYY-MM-DD, which is handy if you want to sort things easily by date order. I am given to understand that in some countries, that is the default date format, and good for them. But MM-DD-YY or MM-DD-YYYY? It jumps about all over the place! It makes no sense! Take it away.

And whilst I'm on the subject, I'll have to start thinking 11/9 rather than 9/11 any time that subject comes up. It's the only way to stop to madness of the dodgy date format from sneaking into my consciousness and making itself comfortable there.

16 comments:

Jay said...

Ugh. I absolutely agree with you. It's not so bad once we reach the 13th of the month like say, 12-13-06 because then you stop and go, hang on, the 13th can only be the day and not the month. But still, that's 12 whole days in a month and 14 days in a year that are fraught with confusion.

Qenny said...

That's true, not all dates are confusing. I think I'd be more forgiving if there was a consistent way of saying dates, e.g. if everyone who uses the MM-DD-YYYY format consistently said July the 4th, for example (possibly without the inclusion of "the").

But they don't, do they? It's often the 4th of July. So, no excuse there, and we're stuck with confusion for 121 days of the year. If I have my maths right.

Jay said...

I meant to type 144 days, by the way. It IS 144 days, ins't it? 12 days of confusion a year multiplied by 12 months... unless I've missed something.

I don't really have a fixed way of saying dates, but I usually go with 1st of May, 2nd of May, 3rd of May and so on, which I suppose is more American (as per their date format). It just rolls off the tongue - well, MY tongue anyway - a little easier than May the 1st, May the 2nd and May the 3rd.

Qenny said...

I think it's 121: 11 x 12, because for each of the first 12 days of the month, there is one day were the confusion can't happen. 1st of Jan, 2nd of Feb, etc.

I usually go with 3rd of May or whatever when speaking, but I thought that the other way around was more American, e.g. September 11th. Also, since their date format is month first then day, the latter would be a better fit. But it's not consistent. I'm sure I've heard Fourth Of July said more frequently than July The Fourth; however, with the 11th day of September, that's usually month first.

We must both be really bored to be expending so much typing effort on this!

Jay said...

You know what? I've just read that last comment I typed and I made NO sense whatsoever. I meant to type "12 days of confusion a MONTH multiplied by 12 months.." and yes, you're right there IS one day when there is no confusion. 121 days of confuson it is. And again, you're also absolutely right to point out that May the 1st IS more American than 1st of May, as per their date format -smacks forehead- I don't know what I was saying.

I think maybe it's a lot safer to write out the month instead of keeping it all numerical e.g. 4th of July instead of 04-07-06.

All this thinking about dates has got my head spinning. I need a nap. Oh wait, I've just had one - it's actually time to go to work. -sigh-

frobisher said...

HELLO! yes it should be dd-mm-yyyy.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Forgive me if I don't stay awake to celebrate this momentous occasion. I'm totally in agreement with the dd-mm-yy or yyyy

Qenny said...

I'm so glad we're all in agreement on the correct format. idv, I'm surprised you aren't going to stay awake. Doesn't this kind of thing have some witchy significance, like a solstice on steroids, or some such?

frobisher said...

I think he's got that broomstick up his arse again :)

Qenny said...

oo-er. I hope there aren't any splinters.

Reluctant Nomad said...

I like number things like this...being a radio 4 fan, I lapped it up when I heard about it on the radio this morning.

Am also not a fan of the US date format - not intuitive at all!

Tickersoid said...

I'm with you. The Americans have got it wrong.

Da Nator said...

Oh, sure. And I bet you use the metric system, too.

U-S-A! U-S-A!!!

DogGirl said...

I'm glad this bothers someone else too. Big-to-small, or vv. Non-symmetry bugs the F out of me too. Balanced asymmetry, fine.

I need help.

DogGirl said...

Oh, and grammatically...

It's the 4th of May, the 12th of July. It's May 4, July 12. No 'th'

I don't correct people in person, I'm skairt of slapping but while we're being all technical here...

Qenny said...

da nator: I do use metric, but not all the time, unfortunately. It just makes so much more sense. I have no idea how many yards are in a mile, or how many fluid ounces in a pint. Except, the US pint and the UK pint are different anyway, and we use fluid ounces, and you use cups. Metric is just so much easier!

doggirl: what about May the 4th? I've stuck on a "th", but included a "the". Does that work for you?