“The Peculiar Date Standards of Americans”

September 28th, 2006 by Potato

I’m not talking about dates as in the stuff that happens before the awkward 5 minute silence as you clumsily try to say goodnight on the doorstep, I’m talking about the day of the month, in numeric form. Many people prefer a date format that looks like DD-MM-YY (or YYYY) since it’s a nice progression from short time periods to longer ones. Still others prefer YYYY-MM-DD for the same reasons, and also because it sorts nicely on a computer (plus if you see a date format that has 4 numbers at the front, it’s very hard to get confused about which standard you’re using). Other people (apparently Americans/Canadians for the most part) prefer a MM-DD standard; I know for a long time that was the standard I used.

This standard, some say, is peculiar. Now, I must admit that it does cause confusion, and there have been a number of rough Aprils spent looking at expiry dates on food and trying to figure out whether it was March 5th or May 3rd… but I don’t think the format is so confusing. It meshes well with the way we format our time (HH:MM), that is from larger to smaller divisions. And since the month is usually the most important thing to look for when going through a set of papers, it makes sense to put it first (typically you can remember the month you did something in but not the exact date, and papers from different years will likely be in different folders). It also follows the way we tend to say the dates: March fifth versus the fifth of March or five March (though those last two forms, particularly the middle one, do appear with some regularity).

Of course, in saying that I find that I’m at a complete loss to explain why ten dollars gets the dollar sign put in front ($10).

Do you ever find yourself caught… trapped somehow in that hazy time period between 2 and 4 am, uselessly pondering things that not only can you not change: but that also don’t matter in the slightest? Yeah, me neither… though I have started to wonder if I had a small stroke or something, because my typing has gone hugely downhill all of a sudden this last week. I thought that maybe something got into my keyboard at work, but tonight I’ve found the same problem at home: tonnes of typos (far above and beyond what is normal for me), particularly with the way my two hands sync together, and the way my thumb syncs with the rest of my typing: my spaces are often coming a character or two too soon or too late. Or maybe I’m just over tired and my hands are clumsy.

My point, and I shall make it shortly so that you can finish this post and go back to not sleeping, is that “The Peculiar Date Standards of Americans” WMAGNFARB.

Oh, and I really need to get a good short story finished in the next few weeks, and I haven’t even had any half decent ideas to write on sticky notes and lose in the last little while…

One Response to ““The Peculiar Date Standards of Americans””

  1. netbug Says:

    Sheesh. I don’t check your site for a day and there’s a vomit of posts you put up.

    And ya, I find myself awake at 4am wondering if the clowns will eat me.